“Friends are the Bacon Bits in the Salad Bowl of Life”
-Pizza Place Sign
Reading Mum 101’s Suburban Envy? (WTF?) post got me thinking that it has been six months since we made our big “city change.” In January, we packed up all of our belongings and relocated across the country to Perth after six years in Sydney. I grew up in Perth (my family are here) and Dad 101 was living here when we met (his family is spread all around this very large continent), and once Immy was born the pull to be back close to family was much stronger, so this is where home for our little family of three will be.
As well as being closer to family we had a list of ‘ideals’ for our life in Perth. We were looking for;
Grass: After living in a 1 1/2 bedroom apartment in Bondi we craved some outdoor space that we did not have to share with thousands of backpackers! Don’t get me wrong, we loved our beachside lifestyle but it was time for some grass of our own.
Home: We knew that we would initially be renting a home and had a list of requirements which, as well as the grass, included – we preferred a house to another apartment, with at least 3 bedrooms, a bathtub, some character (preferably with wooden floors) so it felt like a home, a garage and a pantry cupboard (it’s amazing what you put up with in a small apartment).
Location: We decided that we needed to live close to the city so DH would not have too much of a commute to work. It also had to have an easy run to the city via public transport as we did not want to buy a second car. It was important to us that DH still have a little bit of daylight after work each day free to play with Immy.
Lifestyle: As well as the wonderful benefits of being closer to extended family we were looking forward to the warmer weather, less rain, less traffic and better roads and the friendlier, more relaxed pace of life we remembered Perth to have.
So, the challenge has been to again put down roots in a new place, to build a new community around us. This has definitely had its moments with some highs and (unfortunately) some lows, which I have entitled ‘The Good, The Bad (But Getting Better) and The Ugly!’
New friends: We started chatting whilst watching our daughters’ swimming lessons one Saturday and exchanged details. You got in contact and invited Immy and I to join your mother’s group, even though Immy is younger than the children in the group. The regular coffee dates, chats with other mums and playtime for Immy have been a real Godsend to us. Thank you for making the effort to get in contact – many other women would not have bothered to reach out to a stranger in this way.
Old friends: A friend from my teenage years got in touch with me after 10 years and has been so welcoming, kind and friendly. It is good to see her again and to meet her lovely daughters. I really appreciate her time, company and good ideas.
Good friends: Of all the friends we stayed in contact with during our time away, one has really made the effort to include us again as a part of her family and social circle since we have been back. It is good to know that true friends stay close even after time apart.
The Bad (But Getting Better)
I had forgotten how long it takes to establish new friendships.
Given that I am not working, I have found this more difficult then when Dad 101 and I moved to Sydney. I get out and about with Immy and ‘see’ (as in, lay eyes on) lots of people and try to be friendly but for the most part do not seem to get past a superficial level of pleasantry.
Our home is positioned an easy walk to 2 lakes with walkways and bike paths and playgrounds full of Mums and children, Immy and I attend a local playgroup, we go to storytime at the library, and to Wa music and movement class, and I make an effort to be friendly and chat to other mums we meet. But it is taking time to find friends.
I think I was spoilt by my friendships in Sydney; mainly friends made through work and in our apartment building. I was also one of those lucky Mums who actually had a good mother’s group experience, really connecting with five lovely new mummies who were all quite different but we still enjoyed an easy friendship. In Sydney we would catch up for an impromptu coffee and cake or a walk along the promenade. I miss that spontaneity, the easy nature of those friendships. I stand at the playground or at music and all the Mums seem to be there in pairs. I am the one without a partner – its like the music stopped and I was the one without a chair!
I know it takes time and I will continue to get out and about regularly, taking every opportunity that comes to form friendships. It is slowly getting easier, Immy and I were invited for a lovely playdate just this morning and we all had dinner with a nice couple from Dad 101’s work one night this week.
There have been times when I have felt very, very alone. One example occurred at a local playground. Immy had a pretty magnificent fall off the playground equipment, one of those split seconds where I reached out and couldn’t quite catch her as she fell. Unfortunately her face absorbed most of the impact! She was understandably very upset and I was holding her and comforting her sitting right there on the ground where she fell, trying to also fish around in my handbag for a tissue to dab away the blood. There would have been about seven other women in the playgound that morning, and not one of them came over to assist or to see if we were alright. NOT ONE. I felt like bursting into tears myself right there and then.
I ask that others who are reading this, especially mothers, take a moment to think about my experiences and be kind to other Mums in your community. We are all tired, and busy, and getting our heads around this ‘mothering’ business but you never know when you might be missing out on a fabulous new friendship, on meeting someone who you really click with.
Have you ever relocated away from family and friends? How did you find a new support network?