By Alyssa Delle Palme
Motherhood is like a circus act and in my show, I perform the art of plate spinning. Family is obviously the most important plate and I focus intently on its speed. As a mother, I work to spin a plethora of plates on the top of various sticks including my career and paying bills. All too often, my precious “time with friends” platter begins to slow down and wobble. But let me tell you something: friends should never fall to the floor. When life is too hectic, get rid of television or texting. Your BFFs are beautiful china you take out on important occasions. Life wouldn’t be as special without them.
My high school experience was full of sleepovers, midnight makeovers and dance parties with girlfriends. After we graduated, we went our separate ways. College, travelling, starting careers, getting married and having babies filled the gap between then and now, but no matter how long it has been since we last talked, we can always pick up where we left off. Today, life with a baby, job and family means time with my friends does suffer. There is always too much to do and not enough time. It’s a challenge and I fall short at times, but I work to nurture these relationships because my friends fuel my soul.
On a rare occasion, I get to enjoy a night out with my girlfriends, but we usually have to get creative to squeeze in quality time together. My friend Kaylee and I like to kill two birds with one stone by meeting up during our lunch break for a power walk. We get to catch up and burn calories at the same time. Other necessary activities, such as grocery shopping, can provide opportunities for fun friend time. Kaylee and I cruise through the produce aisle together and laugh about life’s absurdities.
Ottawa mother Chantal Sarkisia says before her son was born, she would never invite friends over unless her floors had been washed.
“Now, I would never cancel a get-together just because I haven’t vacuumed. I have a tidy house, but there is always a pile of laundry that needs to be folded. I have learned to lower my expectations.”
Sarkisian says keeping friends close takes hard work and dedication. “You need to be organized and stay true to your word. The best thing to do is book a date, write it in your calendar and stick to it!”
Like Sarkisian, I make my pals a priority by scheduling them into my agenda because promises to “get together soon” are easily lost in the weekly chaos.
After I graduated from college, I moved across Canada to pursue my broadcasting career. While I was away from home, I worked to maintain my old friendships, but I was also forced to branch out and make new friends. I met, Jane, when I signed up for a Running Room clinic. She was twice my age, but we shared a lot of the same interests and that’s when I realized, age is just a number! Jane served as both a second mother and a great friend while I was away from home. Meeting new people can be nerve-wracking, but I’ve come to know some amazing people because I encouraged myself to broaden my social circle.
My mix of old and new friends have taught me important lessons over the years. I have learned to tell my friends how I feel about them. I like to write letters or leave random compliments on their Facebook pages. Sometimes, I’ll blurt out “I love you” before hanging up the phone. To be a good friend, you need to be vulnerable. It isn’t always easy, but it’s important to share your insecurities or weaknesses because it allows you to develop a level of trust that will strengthen your friendship. A good friend also shows up during good times. Obviously, you would be there if she should ever need a shoulder to cry on, but it’s important to share her happiness. That means dining at her new restaurant, attending her fourth baby shower, dropping off a house warming gift or praising her latest accomplishment through a simple text message.
Friendships can survive motherhood. A quiet evening in can be just as fun as a night on the town. Ask your hubby to watch the kids and invite your girlfriends over to watch the season finale of The Bachelor or the Stanley Cup playoffs. Start a book club or host a Sunday brunch. Get-togethers don’t always have to be the social event of the year. Work to maintain your friendships, despite hectic lives and overloaded schedules, because it’s important to your well-being. Friends are essential to our health and happiness. Never forget, there is always time to fit in friends.