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March 22, 2011

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Friendships. The Casualty of Kids (and PPD)

I know some of you have hinted at this in your own blogs and I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time myself.

When you are pregnant people tell you things like how much your life is going to change and people who you thought were your friends will disappear.
Chicken and I took a good look around and thought…”who will it be?”

We thought we had a pretty good idea, but we were wrong. There are lesbians who’ve been tight with us for years who have pretty much dropped off the face of the earth for close to a year now. Too busy, they say…but FB is a demon. We know they are in our neighborhood, out and about.
When the boys were itty bitty, they wanted to stop by and could find the time to come over and hold a baby. But when the babies started getting more active and coming over involved more ‘twin wrangling work’ rather than sitting around and eating/talking/relaxing while a baby slept in your arms….they stopped coming over.

It’s hard to just ‘visit’ with people when you are trying to raise twins. There is always something that I need to be doing or a kid to be watching or….the list goes on and on. It’s hard to meet other moms at playgrounds and groups because I’m going in two different directions and can’t stand there and talk. And mostly, it’s hard in this city. Because as much as I really do love my neighborhood and love this city, there aren’t ANY gay/lesbian families near us. We’ve got friends in Jersey and upstate and Brooklyn, but it is very difficult for us to get to these places cheaply and easily…
The last time we ventured to Jersey for an afternoon birthday party we spent over $100 on a Zipcar and then got it back late and incurred a $50 fine (which was later reversed because I argued it…) PLUS the cost of the birthday gift! It’s just not something we can do every weekend no matter how much we miss our friends and want to see them.

We’ve been lucky to make some ‘mommy’ friends here in our ‘hood, but we know that they…like us…might not stick around. It’s easy to have a baby in Manhattan. It’s much harder to have children. There comes a point that most people make a run to the burbs (or Brooklyn!) or a smaller city or pack it all up and head to the country.
We don’t know where we’ll end up and most of my friends here in the city are also unsure.

I grew up in a life of uncertainty. I had a different address every year for most of life. We have lived in this apartment for 6 years which is the longest time I’ve ever remained in one place. I have never lived in a house my entire life. Owning a house is a completely foreign concept to me.
As much as I accept my gypsy soul, I also want some level of stability for my boys.
I’d like for them to have a home and grow up with the same friends. I’d like to make friends, really GOOD friends–other parents and raise our kids together, going to the same schools, babysitting for each other, hanging out at different houses.
This could still happen, even here in NYC. It doesn’t have to be ‘somewhere else’. But I feel like everyone I meet is only here for a limited amount of time before finding greener (and bigger and cheaper) grass somewhere else.

And the friends I used to have? The childless ones have slowly faded away, seen only once or twice a year. Others have moved away for good. Some have disappeared completely–even though they may live very close by. Those with children are understanding, but have busy lives themselves and don’t live close enough to just get together at random.

When I moved to NYC 13 years ago, I formed a fast, tight knit group of friends. We spent almost every weekend together. Then one by one…the 3 year window* hit and most of them were victims. Our circle was broken.
A new circle was formed when Chicken and I met. This time my social circle looked like a cross between Sex and the City and The L Word. Many, many, many parties and all of the debauchery that goes with crazy parties. I outgrew the debauchery and lost my circle of friends who were still going strong. It was fun while it lasted.
And then came my solo travels and the MBA and the baby plans and Chicken traveling 5 days a week for work. Friends were lost. Friends moved. Friends were outgrown.

I know I haven’t been the best friend this past year and I’m thankful so many people have stuck by me even when I couldn’t have been very pleasant to support.
I haven’t been myself and haven’t had the energy to do much other than focus on my kids and get through the day. There have been phone calls ignored and emails unanswered and plans cancelled because all I wanted to do was sleep. Just being a friend and exerting that kind of energy sounded too challenging and fatiguing.
But it’s a new year and a new reality for me now. I’m ready to get myself back and that means either getting my friends back or making some new ones.
Either way–I need more of a support group than I currently have. I used to have a very strong circle of female and male friends. I miss it terribly. I ache for it. My best friends are scattered all over the world now. I can’t get them all back in one place. But, I can be a better friend to them and try my best to make new ones now.

*Three years is a changing point for people who live in NYC. Most leave by the 3 year mark. If you stay past 3 years, chances are you are either staying for good or at least for a VERY long time.