One thing you can be sure of is most of us have friends.  People who we laugh with, cry with or simply know that they are there should we ever need them.

My 13 year old Daughter has some lovely friends but, at 13, they are all still learning about how to be a good friend or what makes a friendship last a lifetime. I am lucky to have a wide circle of friends in locations all around the world, and I have learned lessons throughout my 46 years on all aspects of this, sometimes, tricky subject.

So what makes a true friend special? One of my closest friends lives a few miles away and we talk/text/Whatsapp most days. She knows me. She gets me. Our children are equally comfortable at either of our homes. All this is important but what is even more important is the fact we share special times together and both know if the chips were down we would be there for each other.

I obviously have other friends too and my relationship with them is equally as good but in different ways. When we moved 160 miles away from our hometown I missed my friends. The beauty of mobile phones, texting and of course social media helped enormously. The world is a much smaller place now with the ability to contact loved ones and friends at the touch of a button, I found new levels to many of my friendships. What I have also found is that, no matter how many days or weeks go by, when I do make contact with any of them we just pick up where we left off. It doesn’t matter how many miles are between us, my true friends and I will always have that bond to be able to resume our friendship at any given time.

All of the above is fine as long as you have people in your life that are willing to give as much as you give. What about if there is no one willing to go that extra mile to be classed as a “true friend”? I have witnessed one sided friendships and it’s not pleasant! It has happened to me. It has happened to my Daughter. My advice? Either accept them for who they are, enjoy their company when you are with them but treat like for like. If they don’t commit too much neither should you, or move on if you feel it is too upsetting to have them in your life.

Making decisions about the people you surround yourself with can be difficult, but it is important to ensure you have positive influences to help you through the stages of life. This has been made very clear to me over the course of the last 2 years. We welcomed our beautiful baby boy into the world in June 2016. We already had 2 children who were 9 & 11 at the time. At this time the 2 older children were at the stage where they were very well behaved when we went out to restaurants with them and were happy to join in with our conversations or equally happy to bury their heads in their ipads! No trouble at all!! We were also comfortable with asking grandparents to babysit or even have them for sleepovers. That changed with Baby number 3!! We were back to ‘baby days’! I wouldn’t change a thing BUT this has meant we have had a glimpse at life with a little more freedom and stepped away from that back to ‘new parent’ mode!

Never have my friends been needed more than these past 2 years!!!

We have a very supportive family and my parents have reverted back to the days of wiping sticky hands, building with Megablocks or Lego and playing with Brio train sets with ease, but it is the change in friends that has become most apparent.

Some of my closest friends have continued to support, some from afar and others very close up, but what I learned over the past 2 years is people started to make decisions for me & my family that had an impact on our relationships with them.

People assumed that we have a baby so won’t be up to socialising! No more parties. No more evenings out.

Now I’m not a party animal BUT I do appreciate a good gin and tonic or glass of fizz with some adult company now and again, but where there was once a plethora of gatherings to choose from we now have less invitations. I can assure you this is not a failing to engage friends enough for them to want our company, it is more a sense of them not putting us to any trouble with the logistics of having a baby and having a life! I understand, I really do.

Having a baby is a big deal. Most of you reading this know that only too well. We all make sacrifices too numerous to mention and I am certainly not moaning about the fact my social life has taken a back seat. What I do want to highlight is how easy it is to make a decision for someone instead of perhaps taking the time to have a chat and pass the decision making over to them.

My true friends will always be by my side and my good friends are there for a chat too. I have come through the last 2 years pretty much unscathed on the friends front but there are plenty of people who do not. It can be a lonely time. Appearances can sometimes be deceptive. Your bubbly friend might not be as happy as you think behind closed doors and might just be too exhausted to try and form any kind of plan for a get together or even a coffee.

So if you are reading this and someone pops into your mind, it may be because they need a friend, give them a call or text them. Ask them to meet you for a coffee or offer to pop round for a chat. You never know you might just be that one friend that helps them through the minefield of new parenthood when others assume they are ok. Go that extra step and make someone’s day!