A welcome beep of my iPhone, a What’s App message from half way around the world. A girlfriend sending a joke, telling me about her day, asking me about mine. A ream of (desperately solicited at 3am) advice on what to do about my 8 month old (who has mysteriously stopped sleeping through the night), an inspirational news story from the Rio Olympics, a photo, a microwave recipe for chocolate cake, five little words that make everything better: “It’s going to be fine.”
Thank goodness for The Girls.
This is not the first time I’ve found myself calling a new place home. I had prepared for some pitfalls before moving half way around the world again. Jet lag was an obvious one, and yes, that was rough. Finding a place to live that I like as much as the one I left behind – also a challenge. Finding a school for my daughter, working out where to buy school shoes, navigating my way around the local supermarket and figuring out how much bottled water I need for a week of cooking: all legitimate head scratchers; all things I had prepared myself for.
What I was less prepared for was the omnipresent ache of missing. Missing The Girls. Missing the mummy friends, missing the old friends, missing the newer friends. Missing my daughter’s little buddies. Missing the women who have become part of the fabric of my everyday life.
Where would we be without The Girls? Well, this is something I’m fast finding out, and the truthful answer is – for the time being at least – a little bit lost. The days are still full of the wonderful busy nothings – the funny moments and the difficult, the hilarious conversations about the colour of dragons, contemplating where that aeroplane is going, and the negotiations about peas at meal times. There is dancing on the living room rug and jumping on the bed and painting and play doh and Barbies and dress up and cuddles and all the lovely things a three year old and an 8 month old bring to the party. But the truth is, without the mummy friends to share it all – without The Girls – the days are just a little bit less.
So here’s praising the mummy friends, because from where I’m sitting on the other side of the world from mine, I am appreciating them more than ever. The Monday Morning playgroup to look forward to after the weekend, the afternoon meet-ups, the play dates we shape our weeks around. The women who come to the rescue when the baby is sick or the car battery dies, who appear on the door step with pureed vegetables because you’re too ill with morning sickness to make your toddler’s dinner, and who offer lifts to and from nursery just to give you a break. The ones who proffer bottomless pots of tea and arrive brandishing bottles of Prosecco, making us laugh at ourselves because it’s much more fun than crying. The chocolates eaten in each other’s company while watching the kids play somehow don’t count, the sleepless nights so much more bearable with the knowledge that you’re not the only one.
Here’s praising the old friends. The ones who you text when you’re a version of yourself you don’t like very much, and who understand and love you anyway. The ones who do the same on their bad days. The ones who remind you who you really are when you’re feeling utterly exhausted and fed up. The ones who knew the then you, and know the now you, and have had your back everywhere in between.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about moving, it’s this: the people we leave behind never disappear, and they never become less important. You only gather more of them, like precious jewels, as you go along. I’m looking forward to the new relationships I’m bound to form, the new friendships waiting to be made. As I miss the old ones, I feel excited about the people who I’m sure are going to come into my life in this next chapter.
But the ones who went before are always there.
And thank goodness for them. Thank goodness for modern technology making the world smaller and for that beep of my phone that has kept me company over the last few weeks. A friend saying, “My baby didn’t sleep either”, or “We miss you”, or “It’s going to be fine.”
Thank goodness for The Girls.
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