by Mallika Bhatia
Facebook has ruined the definition of being friends. People can’t truly differentiate between acquaintances, classmates, colleagues, neighbours-that-one-occasionally-says-hi-to, fellow group-members, and actual friends. Everyone is a ‘friend’ on social media. I guess this must work for some people, but when one becomes a parent, it changes. It’s like parents transform into a new species altogether.
The parents-species has limited free time, at least a hundred chores to complete in a single day, and a few little humans hanging on to them that need to be loved and fed. These little humans also need to be cleaned, kept disease-free, and cuddled a lot. The parent-species, while performing the above mentioned tasks, may also have their own careers and health to take care of. This species rarely gets to sleep through the night, and is often found patting or rocking their children even when it is dead-dark outside.
After a few years of the parenting experience, their roles may change suddenly. Homework, driving to football and dance lessons, and dealing with hormone related tantrums may be added to their list of responsibilities. While trying to carry out all of these tasks, the parent-species needs to make sure they are patient with their offspring, and yet maintain their own sanity.
Maintaining their own sanity may be dependent on several factors, including the kind of people they hang out with, i.e. the friends they have. Here is when the definition of friend becomes important and what also becomes vital are the friends who are willing to have the parent-species as their friends.
The last minute plan cancellations, the issue of not finding a babysitter, the discussions over poop colour, the constant dark circles and unwaxed legs, the yawning in the middle of a conservation, the not drinking while breastfeeding, the differences in parenting style: everything needs to be accepted. It is all one whole big challenging package.
All jokes aside, with so many conditions and exceptions it truly isn’t easy finding people you can call friends. The ones who would stand by you, help you when you are down, hang out just because, listen to you crying (as a parent I find several reasons to cry, happy reasons, too), go shopping or out for drinks, just be there to comfort you in your braless, pajama state, repeat ‘it’s just a phase’ several times when you complain about your children, and have everything else that defines a friend to you. So many more parameters, right?
My advice is, in trying to find these friends, try not to look for it all in one person. It adds too much pressure. Let different friends play different roles; not everyone is good at everything. You can have a friend that you hang out with, a fun friend, a deep conversations friend, a bitching friend, and so forth.
Choose wisely and take your time before you start calling someone a friend. Here, you also need to remember that Lisa, your fun friend, may sometimes want to talk about deeper life issues, and Anita, your heart-to-heart conversations friend, may want to do something fun one day. The roles may overlap, but don’t let that make you want more out of them. We all have our core strengths, and we tend to keep going back to those, even in friendships.
Another piece of advice is, don’t be too stringent with your criteria. If you simply accept what a person has to offer, you will be much happier in all your relationships, not only friendships. They are who they are. They may show you love in their own way. It may not be the same as your way, so focus on the love and care they are providing. Intentions are truly important, not just actions.
And to avoid the biggest friendship blunder, don’t expect a lot.
If you finally end up finding someone who is okay with all the conditions and criteria, then please check what is wrong with them! If you find nothing wrong, then start worshiping this person. They are what you and I need to aim to become: all accepting and loving. Isn’t that what friendship is about?!
Mallika Bhatia is Life Coach with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Diploma in Hypnotherapy, with more than 13 years of experience in this field. She is a writer, a blogger, and a published author with regular dedicated columns in two National Dailies in India. She also manages The Hope Tribe, a platform to share true stories of people who overcame obstacles and became real heroes. She practices in Munich at her office in NeuHarlaching or over Skype/FaceTime. Her website has more details about her work & for regular doses of wisdom, like & follow her on Facebook.