I had a baby and became a crap friend.
At some point when I wasn’t looking, I became a shit friend.
The type of friend people start whinging about a lot when they’re at dinner and they’ve stopped discussing whether Ali could totally go all Fatal Attraction on Tim’s arse on The Bachelor.
The type of shit friend who never returns phone calls. Or emails. Or er, text messages. The type of friend who LIKES your FB update as soon as you post it but who then 20 seconds later doesn’t answer your personal message. The type of friend who is notoriously unreliable.
You know the type of friend I’m talking about. She’s always the one saying, “Sure I’ll bring the three bean salad to the BBQ on Saturday.” And then she arrives late AGAIN with a bottle of Pepsi Max (AGAIN) from the servo down the road. And then she leaves early because blah blah blah <insert excuse about CHILDREN>. Or worse, she just does a no-show instead.
You’ve had that friend. I’ve had that friend. And now, suddenly, dammit I AM that friend.
And I’m not entirely sure how I got here.
Because once upon at time I was a great friend. I remembered all the important stuff. Your birthday. Your kids’ birthdays. The anniversary of your dad’s passing. The name of the boss you loved two years ago who got transferred to Perth. I dropped everything to be with you the Saturday afternoon your dog died. I fixed up your resume for you when you went for that job. I moved heaven and earth to get us front row seats (okay, third row seats) to Prince. I was connected and reliable. I sent birthday cards IN THE MAIL FOR GOD’S SAKE.
But that was then.
Now I am deep deep in the trenches with three kids. And my ability to maintain friendships appears to have evaporated along with my ability to get to the hairdresser. Or talk on the phone to anyone ever about anything for longer than 2m 47 seconds. Or watch any TV show past 8.30pm without falling asleep ten minutes in.
As I struggle to stay on top of the grocery shopping and the cooking and the laundry and the laundry and the laundry and picking up 3 million pieces of %$*&^%# Lego off the carpet and sitting through my four year old’s magic shows that NEVER SEEM TO END and breastfeeding my eight-week-old while I spoon feed my 18-month-old porridge which he seems to prefer to mash into his hair and try to recite the full lyrics to Sophia The First for my four year old who is DESPERATE to know them … the emails and the text messages and the phone messages from friends and colleagues and some woman in New York who’s an artist whose put me on her exhibition mailing list KEEP COMING.
They’re like aliens. The more I open and respond to and delete – the more they seem to pop up. I feel like Will Smith in Independence Day. Okay, not really. At all. But you know.
I have no hope of getting to them all. Actually, some days – many days – I have no hope of even getting to one. And believe me when I say this annoys me far more than it annoys you.
And then by the end of the day when all the kids are finally asleep and I know I should be returning calls, the truth is all I really want to do is sit on the couch, watch crappy TV and not speak. I’m spent. I have used up all my words. Okay that’s not true. But I’ve said the words “No” and “Put that down” and “Uh uh uh” and “I’m COMING!” about 5 million times. By 7pm I have nothing left to give anybody as much as I’d like to. By 7pm I cannot stand the sound of my own voice.
But don’t think I’m not thinking about you. I am. I’m trying to stay in the loop on Facebook. Keep up with your news. LIKE your photos as some kind of lame way to show you I care. I do try and ring for all of 45 seconds when I can. And I’m still cheering you on; I’m just doing it from the kitchen with a disturbing amount of baby vomit on my pyjama top (and it’s 1pm and I’m still in my pyjamas. You with me? My life right now is a zoo.).
What I’m hoping as I navigate this new workload of motherhood is that you’ll give our friendship a temporary leave of absence. A sort of long service leave. You know how we have to wait a few months before the new season of Offspring starts again? THAT. Because while I’m a crap friend now, it won’t always be this way.
I’ll find my way out of the fog. I’ll start getting some sleep again. I’ll hide my daughter’s magic kit.
Don’t give up on me just yet. Because I’ll be back with a vengeance. I promise.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.