So today I spent an afternoon in the company of good friends.

We had struggled to find a date during the long school holidays when we were all around and had landed on this afternoon. Even with this date one of our usual four was unable to make it and yet another was leaving on holiday the next morning and was mid ‘pack’.

These are friends I met when pregnant with Eldest. We first made each other’s acquaintance whilst sitting on bean bags and floor cushions (surely not the most amenable seating for heavily pregnant women) at the house of our ante-natal teacher being taught about the mechanics of childbirth (not sure I will ever get over that pelvis and doll combo) and the pros and cons of drugs during labour.

I am not sure we really bonded permanently then but the beginnings were stirring. There were 7 couples expecting their first child. In the normal course of events I am sure I would never have met any of these women; our circles, professions and locations being quite disparate.

Eldest decided to make an early appearance and I missed the last session- I have since found out that this caused ‘quite a stir’ amongst the remaining course members.

Luckily for me the charity who provided the course also ran post baby support ‘get togethers’. At the first one it was me, eldest and one very heavily pregnant member who was overdue. The others were in the early throws of new borns and couldn’t make it.

The next session two weeks later saw nearly a full turn out. One lady was beautifully presented and waxed lyrical about the wonders of parenthood. I went home and cried for 2 hours.

A fortnight rolled by and super mum didn’t make it. Probably getting her nails done. It took about 5 minutes before someone admitted that they were struggling. Relief washed over me like a warm shower. And the five of us bonded and never looked back. We met regularly even after our charity provided support stopped. One lady moved away but the rest of us met nearly weekly until about two years ago when post school extra curricular activities, work and other mundanities precluded such regular meetings.

Our eldest children are now 11 and a half. And we try to meet every school holiday with varying degrees of success. Sometimes half a year may go by.

It never matters. Once we get together again it is as if time has not passed. It is like we only met the previous day. Our kids (they now number 10 between four of us) get on like a house on fire despite not sharing schools or Cub packs or sport teams. We make tea in each others kitchens. No one bristles if a child is disciplined by the ‘wrong’ mother. We are all going through the same stuff with the kids at the same time. We always feel better about ourselves and we feel like better parents, or at least more accepting of ourselves as parents, after a long chat. We bare our souls.

And so I count these women as some of the most important in my life. There are others equally important to me, including men too. It is nothing to do with the length of acquaintance. The common link is a shared history from some part of life, an ease, similar experiences, an ability to fall back into conversation as if you have never been apart, and a recognition that the pace of life means not meeting up as much as you would like, but knowing that that doesn’t mean the relationship is any less important or precious.

These are the best sorts of friendship. I love all my friends from whatever walk of life and count myself lucky to have them.

I know a lot of those friends read this blog- so there you go- feel told. Ok?

Footnote…that photo above…that is not a picture of the friends I met up with today. All of us have had at least two children, some three. We don’t jump. Without clenching…