Saturday, 13 June 2015

Having kids and keeping friends

I'm struggling with something. I'm grappling with the past.

It's not a mid life crisis, it's more of a "oh my goodness I blinked and my life has been turned upside down" crisis.

For those that know me, my wife and I have two beautiful kids under the age of two. They are absolutely the apple of my eye, especially my two year old son who I cannot help but hug, kiss and wrestle every minute I'm with him.

They said life changes with kids. They weren't wrong. While I wouldn't change a thing, I can't help feeling insecure about the life I've left behind. The weekend sleep ins, the lazy cafe brekkies, the "hmm shall I go watch the old boys or Essendon" conundrum. The money from two incomes, the wine tours, the wine! 

For me, the hardest thing about having kids is not the lack of sleep, the pockets becoming substantially shallower, or the lack of footy I'm getting to. It's not even the release of my golf membership which rocked me to the core.

It's the lack of time, energy and money I can dedicate to my friends. 

On Friday nights I used to be the one drumming up people to come and have a drink or six at the pub. Now I'm the one hiding behind a computer screen hoping nobody sees me because I hate having to say no. But that's what I have to do. There's kids to feed, bath and bed and dishes to do.

So it's bloody hard when my friends suggest a catch up dinner or a few beers and the footy and I have to say no again. I feel like I'm not holding up my end of the friendship bargain.

I can't talk for women, but mate-ship is a big thing for guys. The camaraderie of a footy or cricket club, or the banter built up with mates at work, the laughs over a few beers are something I crave. I think it's essential for guys. But it is almost impossible with young kids. 

Growing up is funny. I'm 32 and nostalgic. I reminisce on the good old days, yet I also shake my head at the wastefulness they possessed. The hundreds of bucks spent on beer, taxis and food. The interest on credit cards that were used for travel I couldn't afford. The "early morning" 10am wake ups from Mum! 

I wouldn't want to do it again but I miss it at the same time. I miss being able to do what I want when I want. Then God slaps a healthy dose of reality in my face by making my little man crack me up laughing at 7am, or by running up to me and hugging my legs while I'm rubbing my eyes trying to wake up.

Having kids has taught me one important lesson about friendship. You won't lose true mates once you have kids. Even if you can't see them as much as you used to, you will stay in contact with them in different ways. They will understand you don't have as much time as you used to (in the case these friends don't have kids themselves). 

Sure you'll decrease your circle of friends down to the true ones, but I think that's a good thing when you've got work and family to fill in the majority of your time. 

So while I look back with fondness on the days I ran amok with dozens of mates, I truly value the mates I have kept over the years. There's probably not as much banter and beers, but that's more than made up for by way of laughs and bottles of milk with my two little legends.

Kids will bring out the best in your family life as well as the best of your friends.

All the best,
Dom Meese

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