Last night, I was out for dinner with my two best friends. We’d not managed to meet up for a while and so there was lots to catch up on. Both my friends are married and one has a baby. We spent around 5 hours together last night and only 20 minutes maximum of that involved talking about children, or indeed our husbands for that matter. Our conversations were about work, TV, films, books, events we had been to, holidays, mutual friends- the list goes on. When I go out with these amazing ladies, I am first and foremost Lora and then secondly a Mum. Being with them is pure and utter ‘Me’ time and it is amazing. I’d had quite a full on Mum/school transition week and so the escapism was extremely welcomed. Another plus for me was the chance to head to the city centre. I live in the suburbs of Edinburgh and they are spread over different locations, so the best place to meet is in town. We went to a fairly new restaurant in St. Andrew’s Square called The Refinery. If you haven’t been before, do check it out. The only slight disadvantage was the fact that it was so much easier for me to drive there and so it was a night of lime and soda’s while they sipped on their Prosecco. I came home feeling refreshed and was delighted this morning to wake up without the worry of a hangover- especially as I’d agreed to take Tom a cycle while I ran.
Next weekend, I am out again (two weekends in a row is actually a rarity for me!). This time, it’s a group of Mums from school who all have children in Tom’s class and a couple also have a second child in Tiny’s class. We have been friends since Tom started at the school and we always go out to celebrate each other’s birthdays. Next weekend will be pre-drinks at the birthday girl’s house, dinner in a local restaurant that we love, followed by more drinks at another local bar. It will be full on Prosecco drinking, possibly some wine if we stray from the Prosecco and finally, perhaps a cocktail or two to end the night. Our chat does have a big focus on our children, school, our husbands and some tv, books etc all thrown in to the mix. Its great to have a group of friends with children of the same age, at the same school, living in the same area as you do have plenty in common to keep you chatting well in to the wee small hours. With this group of friends I would say I am half and half- I am equal parts ‘Lora’ and ‘Mum.’
In a few weeks time, I am on a night out with a group of fellow adoptive Mums. These are people who just absolutely ‘get it.’ We already have a Facebook group and a messenger thread where at least one of us posts daily about our tales of woe from that day/week. Sometimes we are able to give advice, other times we really do not have any answers and so can only offer our empathy and support. We all have very different family scenarios and children with very different ranges of need. We have met up a few times for drinks, as well as meet ups in the holidays with all our children. On these days/nights out, all of us get to be 100% ourselves. We are all on that crazy trauma train together and know we can all laugh, cry, scream and rant to our hearts content without every feeling judged. Everything we say is in a place of complete safety and everyone there just understands. There is never any need to try and explain to them why our child is behaving in such a way- they just know. I absolutely love being with this group. It is full on ‘Mum’ time, although when it’s a night of drinks, ‘Lora’ often appears two.
These are the three main groups of friends in my life. Over and above this though, there are a group of friends that are a further source of support even though they have never been met. This is a community of adopters on social media. Again, these are people who just ‘get it.’ We talk about a range of topics connected with adoption and offer one another support. Sometimes again, it difficult to know what to say, but even a simple ‘sending you strength and hugs’ can be enough to let the person know that they are not alone. It’s not all Adoption chat though- for example I was discussing a recent gift of a bottle of Blue Nun wine!
The last two of these groups are ones I have only really had in the past 6 months. Prior to this, I relied upon my best friends and mum friends. Whilst these two are undoubtably amazing friends and ones I love spending time with, each time I had something to rant about in connection with the boys, it took a bit more explaining and whilst everyone was so supportive and empathetic, they weren’t able to truly understand it. When I was having a really bad day, week or month with the boys, I knew I had plenty of friends, but I couldn’t help feeling a huge sense of loneliness. I longed for someone who talk to who knew how infuriating it could be when your child was in full on controlling mode, or how upsetting being told you are the worst Mum in the world is for the gazillionth time can be, or how you are physically and emotionally drained beyond all comprehension. For 5 years through stages of CPV, aggression, anger, and extreme controlling, I struggled on along with just my husband for support (he is amazing too). Although we had each other, I still felt at times, desperately low. Since meeting this group of fellow adopters though, my life has changed. I know I have a life line in my hours of need. I can post a rant with as many expletives in as is necessary and I know no one will be offended or judged and I’ll get at least 5 responses within 10 minutes. Everyone in our group says the loads we all carry have become that tiny bit lighter as our problems can be shared openly with each other.
So what is my advice regarding friendships? Surround yourself with a range of different types of friends. There will be times that you want to just switch off from all things adoption, but then there will be times that you need someone to listen to your account of your child’s meltdown about not being able to find their socks. Someone who won’t utter the words ‘all kids do that.’ Someone who will recognise that this is because it will remind them of the feelings of loss they experienced in their early life- that is someone who ‘gets it.’ If you haven’t found any of these people yet, please do reach out on twitter where you will be met with open arms and a lending ear @empowerattach
I am delighted to be adding this blog post the the Weekly Adoption Shout Out, also known as #waso and also The Adoption and Fostering Weekly Round Up. If you have enjoyed this post, please do consider heading to the latter of these and giving a vote for it in the weekly poll.