So I did this friends thing on facebook….

and I’m not sure how I feel about it! It was this status that you copy and paste that said …………………….write down how you met me……….. and most of the people seemed to be from church. I loved it and it reminded me of the friends I do have but….

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my church, deeply. But I do feel I’ve placed it and the area it is in on a bit of a pedestal when I should have been concentrating on where I am in Chesterfield. Just to be clear, my church is about ten miles from where I live, so not a massive distance, but when it comes to having close friends and community, it seems to make a massive difference.

I won’t lie, since having children I’ve been frequently lonely. I feel like I’ve wasted time being lonely actually. When I could have just been out there having fun and being with my kids and not worrying. That makes me sad. I should have concentrated on my own community where I live and made friends. The post natal depression didn’t help! But I’m fine now.

I know I did make a few and you are out there, but life with small children and friendships is actually quite difficult. Most women work as well as bring their children up and also have partners as well. So life is busy and time limited.

Everyone says “go to groups!!!” but to be quite honest I find a lot of groups to be more dispiriting that not going. I find it a fake indoors environment where you sit around talking nonsense or worrying about your child’s behaviour and being unsure as to whether it is “appropriate” (another word I don’t like). and trying to make friends with people who, quite frankly, don’t appear to want to actually be friends. Maybe it’s just our English non embracing of others, our restraint, but I don’t like it.

If I was staying here, I think I would have made more of an effort, invited people out, gone to the park and spoken to people. It’s actually quite easy, I did it yesterday, we went to our local park and stayed quite a while, J made a friend (amazing how easy we find it when we are three) and ran around for ages. The little one shuffled round climbing on things and I chatted with J’s friend’s grandma. It was great.

I have actually loved being a full time mum. Loved it. And I will keep on loving it. But now, I am going to embrace this time and love my kids and teach them and enjoy them. (and learn from them hopefully). J goes to school in a year, and I have beaten myself up in some ways because everyone seems so obsessed with nurseries and I seem to have been continually asked since J was born if he was going or when he was going to nursery.  Particularly when he was going through a tough time like when he went through a hitting phase (like nursery would sort him out??!!)

J hasn’t gone to nursery and still isn’t at the moment is the answer. And you know what? he is an intelligent, well adjusted and knowledgeable three year old. With all the traits of a normal three year old, including some defiance, screaming heebie jeebies, and refusing to leave the park when asked saying he wanted to stay there forever. He makes friends easily when out, he is sociable and he seems very secure. Again, not going to nursery when very young is not a bad thing… (neither is going, may I add to my working friends, I know how hard it is).

Having said that we will try and find a pre-school when we get to Ireland. But only because he is getting to that age where I feel it would be helpful and I think he would enjoy it. I have often felt that by being at home, what on earth have I given him? But more and more as he gets older I feel I am seeing what we have given him, and that is good.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not slating working parents. I’ve been there, done that, and this parenting decision is entirely our decision. It is because I’ve been there, done that, that I made this decision. I did my nurse training whilst my daughter was little. We are also in the privileged position of (just) being able to do it financially.

So I suppose the point of this is, parenting is difficult, but I’m not sure we get it right in this country. There are so many lonely parents, being sold this image of parenthood that it just doesn’t live up to. Being told that nursery is the right place for their child, being made to feel that they have to work. Being told “you can have it all” when in fact it is incredibly difficult and something always has to give.

I also don’t get why we as parents don’t get this sorted, there seems to be a sort of paralysis of parents being perpetually lonely or unfulfilled. This doesn’t seem to have changed in the last 20 odd years (remember I have a 23 year old daughter too). I know I am generalising massively but I am speaking from my experience of trying loads of different kids groups over the past three years and meeting lots of different parents.

So, I’ve decided to try and do my bit from now on by simply welcoming other parents with a big smile and an ear to listen wherever I am. By being open and welcoming and take it from there. No agenda. No preconceived ideas.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

(Psalm 127:3-5)

(I’m really hoping this post is not offensive, massive apologies if it is…parenting and friendships are tricky subjects, I am working my own thoughts out really, I feel like God is doing stuff in me at the moment, working things through…)

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theshepherdsadventure

A Jesus follower who with her family are attempting (probably comically) to start a different type of life in a totally different place, but starting where we are and rolling with it and seeking God all the way, well trying to... #theshepherdsadventure

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