I have a confession to make: When life gets hard, I sometimes go quiet. When I’m burned out and running on empty, I retreat. The thought of socialising with friends can feel like “one more thing” on my to-do list. The mere idea of talking – even with friends I love – seems too exhausting. And I worry that I’d just bring everyone down.
When work is stressful and I feel like all I do is nag my child to clean up his clothes and school bag(s), when Angel (our basset dog) won’t stop barking and the house is a disaster, when I’m on edge with my husband and I haven’t slept more than a few hours a night, all I want to do is climb under the covers and curl into a ball and sob.
When life gets overwhelming, friendship can sometimes fall by the wayside. It gets harder. Because when your day is one long sprint to the finish line, you’re too exhausted to check in with anyone. You think that you don’t want to hear another person’s voice, including your own. You want to turn off your mind. You worry about what others would think if you told them how you’re really doing, how you’re really feeling.
So when life gets hard, I go quiet. And as a result, friendship can get hard. It becomes a cycle too—the quieter I get, the worse I feel and then the quieter I get. And if I’m not careful, friendships can get quieter too. They get harder. They get trickier.
But let me tell you, it is during these times – when we’re burned out and emotionally maxed out and tapped out on everything – that we need our friends more than ever. When life gets overwhelming and I go quiet, that’s when I miss my friends the most.
Here’s the thing that no one tells you: any relationship that matters can be hard sometimes. And friendship is no different.
Of course, motherhood changes friendships. As parents, our priorities shift and friendships can fall farther down on that list. It makes sense and it is natural. After a long week at work, gritting our teeth through difficult bedtime routines and staying up until the wee hours of the night to catch up on laundry, we want to just collapse on the couch and talk to no one.
But now that my child is older and I’m on the other side of toddler tantrums and bedtime routines, I can say without a moment’s hesitation, that we need our friends more than ever during the tricky times.
We need those late-night texts that consist entirely of memes because our mind is too fried to type in coherent sentences.
We need those last-minute playdate pick-ups that extend into pizza-and-wine nights and a whole lot of laughter.
We need those walks around the neighbourhood filled with comfortable silences.
We need the unexpected pop-ins when the house is a mess and we haven’t showered in two days.
And we need those friends who let us vent and whine without judgment. Because our true friends love us even when we complain, even when we go quiet.
Our friends remind us of who before we were “Mama”, who we are now, and who we might become. They are our soft-landing and our safe space. They are a respite from the swirling hurricane of demands and worries and obligations. They are a breath of fresh air when they say “I get it” and “me too” and “I’m here for you.”
And the good ones—the really good ones—understand that we go quiet sometimes and they love us anyway.
So here’s to the friendships that muddle through the tough times together. To the friends who know exactly when to check in with a funny meme or a “how are you really?” text. To the friends who make us laugh until we cry and let us cry until we laugh. And to the friends who bring us back to ourselves when life gets overwhelming and we go quiet.
Photo credits @betterhomesandgardens