Most mornings, even when my little one is at Nursery school, when I could be getting on with my writing work, or enjoying time without any children for the first time in years, I meet a mate for a cuppa.
It could be construed as a complete waste of time and I'm forever moaning about how little gets done at home, but, honestly, is it? We chat about every day things, everything and nothing, just for an hour or so and then we get on with our day.
It can be very frustrating with two little ones - she has two girls amost the same age as my two boys - they are all firm friends - and we are able to air tantrums - hers / mine/ theirs - and turn it all into a laugh. Such things can be otherwise traumatising, take their toll and affect us for quite a while after they've passed.
It is very healing, is what I'm saying.
Lately, my ex-husband has been one of the subjects and it has been an enormous help to
My friend and our ritual came about by accident. We knew each other through Sarah, someone we're both still close to and, when after dropping our eldest kids off at school, would both wander off in the direction of the shops and get chatting, as you do.
They say the more you talk, the more you have to say, so our chats ended up over sit-downs and enjoyable cuppas in the Co-op cafe, rather than standing around outside it for 45 minutes!
There's no end of a subject that's not fodder and other mums we know come and go, but we are steadfast in our avoidance of housework for just that little bit longer.
Girlfriends have held me together over the years, particularly since my marriage breakdown, but before that, they have always been my life blood. Living away from family has created a need for like minded company through the good times too and as I get older, so my friendships age as well.
Debbie and I were neighbours growing up - that's nigh on 40 years we've been friends. She married young and while I was working in London or travelling the world, she was stuck at home with a (now Ex) husband away in the Royal Navy and two young children. The tables have now truly turned and it's me on the other end of those postcards. [Grrr!].
Others are in Jersey and New Zealand (roughly 30 years standing), Australia, Essex and Hampshire (25 years), plus those who've read her dating exploits will already have heard of my friend Sheila, who has been around seemingly forever, but during these last few years has really come into her own, guiding me back towards my old self and helping out in every conceivable way, with me rarely having to ask.
Considering her journey to us takes a good two hours, this is no mean feat and I worry that I won't ever be able to repay her. But she reminds me of the times when I have helped her, travelled to her and supported her and it's taken as a matter of course that this is what women do. And, naturally, we do.
My other friends say the same and I am honoured to be blessed with mutually respectful relationships that have seen our fair share of ups and downs all round.
Considering the intimacies shared between us all, a split can yield an enormously painful and devastating impact, something those of us who have regrettably experienced it can testify to. And yet this is something we could share and try to get over with our other girlfriends. (My heart still occasionally aches for two women I used to know, more so than for any man).
It's important to have people around you who know who you really are - before you became a wife / mum and might have lost yourself for a while. Indeed, it is they who will help renew you.
So even though my friend locally and I didn't know each other pre-kids, nor the other mums we mix with, as all our children get a little more hands-off and we spend that bit more time over a relaxing coffee, the women behind the motherhood are quietly emerging and this is pure joy.
Surely, there is nothing wrong with that? Sooner or later, we'll all be heading back to the workplace and this precious time will be lost. I, for one, will be too.
Happy Birthday Claire!
Who are your girlfriends?