Well, the good news is that I don’t appear to have offended any family members with my last post, “On Family”! Apart from my mum, that is, who took a serious disliking to the photo captioned “Those old strong women”. Sorry, mum. This time I’m shifting my focus to friends, so I will once again be waiting with bated breath for sounds of approval (or at least, silent acceptance) from those I may happen to mention (or allude to) henceforth. I think I’ll take this opportunity to remind readers that this is merely a mother’s attempt at documenting her honest and heartfelt advice for her little girls, and that any accidental slippage of sacred truths is entirely innocent.
As with all posts in this series, I will be using the general structure of the keepsake journal that inspired me to start this blog, ‘My Prudent Advice’, as a guide. The headings below are taken from the journal and the answers are mine, written to my daughters, Anya and Ellora.
Here we go with Chapter 2…
The qualities I value most in a friend: Being trustworthy and non-judgemental. All being well, you have a lifetime of making new friendships ahead of you – do not make the mistake of thinking that the ones you have at this point in time are your only friends for life. Friendships are usually forged over shared experiences – classrooms, hobbies, careers, life events (such as having a baby of your own). Each will serve its own special purpose and either stay with you for the long haul or fade to fond memories. Those friendships – both the long and short term kind – will inspire you, uplift you, and occasionally hurt you. Building the strongest friendships takes time, mutual respect, a shared sense of humour and (in my opinion) a great many holidays, but my advice to you is to do this only with those in whom you feel you can trust your life.
The key to being a good friend is: Knowing when to stop and listen. I do not pretend to be the world’s greatest friend – I’ve made my fair share of mistakes when it comes to friendship – but I know that people need to turn to their friends for advice in all manner of ways. Sometimes it may not even feel like they’re asking for advice (these are often the times you need to listen the hardest). The truth is, we all need some sort of sounding board from time to time and, in my opinion, your no. 1 job as a friend is to recognise when someone is talking to you about something which is important to them and to put down your phone/pain au chocolat/shopping bags and listen. If it feels like a good time to offer a glass of wine, it probably is (clearly, I’m imagining you as adults here!).
When a friend made me feel loved: I’m lucky enough to have some absolutely brilliant friends and there are too many stories of feeling loved to list here. If I had to choose a stand-out example, however, it would have to be the way that my closest friends were there for me during, and leading up to, our wedding day (hence the photo choice above). If you can find bridesmaids who will agree on a dress during the first shopping trip, deliver a Maid of Honour speech that makes every one of your guests weep like a baby or indeed ‘crump’ in a dance-off with a professional for a large audience then you must be doing something right.
How I stay in touch with friends: If I get too specific here then it’s bound to sound outdated by the time that you read this. It’s safe to say, however, that the answer can be summarised to this: my phone! Text messages, iMessages, email, Whatsapp, FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, Instagram… Perhaps by the time you’re grown up there’ll be a uniform way of staying connected with friends because I for one am usually behind with at least one of these! It makes me think of another quality I value in friends: being patient when it comes to waiting for me to reply to messages (I frequently blame you two).
Advice from my friends to you: This is when I wish I’d read ahead and prepared for these questions! Rather than pause here and gather advice offline, I’m going to hope that at least one of my lovely friends reads this blog and can think of something reasonably sensible to write in the comments section… although I may live to regret this (play nice!!). All advice welcome… old friends, new friends, ‘real life’ friends, social media friends, school friends, work friends, mummy friends and, go on then, even you Jenna 😉
I hope you and I have a certain type of friendship: I think most mothers dream of swapping clothes and girly days out with their daughters… spa treatments, shopping trips, discussing a new book over lunch and a bottle of prosecco. You may think I’m leading to something more profound in my answer, but no, I want all of these things please. First and foremost, however, I want you to feel that you can talk to me about anything and everything. I promise to embody every single character trait I’ve mentioned in this blog post when it comes to being your friend. Just know that being your mother is my default setting and you can’t blame me if she responds first.
Thank you to any readers who’ve made it this far – I’m really enjoying this process and hope that it resonates with you on some level. Watch out for the next post, “On Love”, landing soon and do enjoy my lovingly compiled collage to end this particular post in the mean time (sorry, friends – I love you all really! And sorry if I haven’t replied on Whatsapp for a while – I still blame the kids)…
P.S. Please don’t be offended if we’re friends and you’re not in any of these snaps – I either can’t find any digital photos of us together or I really don’t like the way I look in them 😉