The thing about getting older and having kids is that it's full of bittersweet moments.
Those days of living with your best mates, partying all night, staying in your PJs all day, getting up without much of a hangover, become a distant memory. You all move away from each other, get new partners, new jobs, new homes. Those gatherings, that were once based on getting drunk at one of your flats, become less and less frequent. When the first one of you has a baby it starts to slow down. Visits become perhaps an odd afternoon if you're passing that part of the country. When nearly the whole gang has babies, the weekend gatherings are pretty much non existent. It's no one's fault, it's just a fact of life. Everyone has their own lives with their own stuff going on. Meeting up becomes hard work, working out availability, travel time, and thinking about where everyone will sleep.
Some friendships last the test of time
We recently visited a university friend of mine. She's got a little boy who's just a day younger than my daughter. Last year they came down to us in May when the babies were about 16 months old. The trek up north from Norfolk is long and painful, but we are used to it, having done it so many times to my parents since our daughter was a few months old. Last year the babies loved each other. I was pretty sure the toddlers would get on well again, now that they are older. And they did. My friend and I kept showing them videos from WhatsApp to remind them or perhaps re-introduce them to each other, and I was talking about my friend and her son for a few days before we went. It didn't take long for them to become friendly, with my friend's son asking for lot of kisses!
During the weekend we also managed to see some other university friends who live nearby. I hadn't seen them for 16 months, and even then, it was only for about two hours at a baby friendly 30th birthday party. That was the first time they'd met my daughter. This time there were toddlers, a school aged child and another baby. We all met up at a play area and went for a coffee.
That bittersweet moment
It was lovely to see everyone, but I came away from it feeling sort of sad. We only had a couple of hours together. There were four couples and six kids between us. The amount of one on one chat time I got with my friends wasn't long enough.
I found myself sort of yearning for my past. In some strange way, I wanted it to be eight years ago, where we all stayed up late drinking wine and chatting, getting excited (or frustrated in my case) about jobs, engagements, weddings and houses.
I know I shouldn't be sad, I have so much to be thankful for. I know I should live and enjoy being in the moment. It's not that I'm not happy being a mum, I love being a mum. It just hit me like a bus. I looked at my friend, with her two children, one at school and another toddler, and thought, wow... we are mums. We're not the 23 year olds I remember.
But as I looked around I felt so proud of what we've all become.
We have grown up. I don't know how it's happened, but it has. It felt bittersweet.
Before we knew it, the weekend was over. I hope, and actually truly believe, that even if it is only every 18 months, or maybe once a year, my friendships with my university friends will continue to last the test of time. And I really hope our children continue to get on and play together too.
Yes, our wicked university days are over. In some respect they were the best times of our lives. But those times have been replaced with motherhood and family life. It's a different life, but one with a love like no other.