AS a mother I encourage the children to make new friends all the time – at school, in playgrounds, on holiday, and so on and on and on.
I suggest to them that it is in fact lovely to have lots of different friends and new pals to play with all over the show, but it has occurred to me that I don’t practise what I preach.
What I’m prescribing to my offspring is basically my worst nightmare – making new friends.
If asked, I would say I’m a people person. I love company, and hearing different people’s stories and journeys.
But maybe I’m a fraud. You will never catch me strolling up to someone on the adult equivalent of a climbing frame, saying “Hi, I’m Peta. Would you like to be friends?”.
I have had my two best friends since school and apart from them I can count on one hand the amount of people I would actually class as a friend.
Plenty of people I have a chat with and lots of people I like . . . but friends – nope.
I was about 24 – sure of who I was, who I liked and had met enough people to realise I wasn’t going to get much better than the friends I had.
Perhaps it’s because I can be a little unsure of trusting new people or maybe I like to keep my actual everyday life private.
Or my last conclusion could be that Instagram has filled any friendship voids.
I hate that the poor ol’ ’gram gets blamed for so much, but maybe the connections and “friendships” I have through the “grid” have filled any gaps in my cast for newbies.
I have met some amazing people online who I share with regularly but are they the same as real-life friends if they don’t have to deal with me on my bad days too? Maybe not.
Plus the demands that virtual pals put on us and our already hectic lives are much less.
I know that when I am somebody’s friend I absorb their ups and downs and bestow mine on them too . . . even when they don’t want it. Lucky them.
So how many people can I give my all to?
Maybe I am putting too much pressure on my treasured real-life friendships and should have different friends fulfilling different roles – the listener, the bottomless Prosecco drinker, the relationship adviser.
I count myself very lucky that my little crew and our children tick all my boxes, so I never feel my eyes wandering for fresh friend flings, but what if I am missing out on a soulmate?
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Sometimes I wonder if I should spread my socialising wings, rather than just having a friendship flutter with people I meet online.
I’ve never consciously written off making new friends, but this year, maybe I will think about seeking out a new friend or two.
Then I’ll see if the motherly mantra I give my kids really is good advice.