My five-year-old is my best friend: The struggle to make friends as a young mum

“You’re my best friend,” said my five-year-old as we walked home from Montessori. She didn't hesitate after I wondered aloud about which of her little classmates had the honour of being her ‘best friend’. Play dates and parties were on my mind. Who would be her pals, who would she group with to begin the new school year? I was excited for her but surprised by her answer.

I told her of course, that she was also my best friend but I meant someone slightly shorter, who could keep a conversation about slime going…

I was even more taken back when I realised It was true. My best friend is a five-year-old mini-me. We hang out constantly. She knows me better than anyone.

My own mum told me on numerous accustoms that being friends with your daughter was not advised. You’re a parent, not a friend, she would say. I did try. I tried to step into the authoritarian role, but I couldn’t pull it off. So here I am, a grown-ass woman with a best friend whose favourite topic of small talk is poo.

Maybe that’s why my head is full of play dates and parties and plans to be embarrassingly involved in school activities. I want some new best friends. I was the first of my own friends to have a baby, and slowly but surely, these pals began to drop off the radar. Time got the better of those fierce friend groups you have when you’re young and too early for me. Now I’m left with three or four people who I managed to cling on to, himself…and our daughter. Mostly the last one.

The loneliness that comes with being a mum is inevitable. We all feel it. When you’re a younger mother, you may not have friends with kids to gravitate towards. To latch onto when you hear one bitching about a sleepless night. No one you can simply nod at and say ‘same’.

As for the friends you had post-parenting, they are far too easily lost. We lose ourselves for a while, and how do you make time for friends when you don’t have time for yourself? It’s nice to scroll through posts that instruct you firmly to get some me-time. It is also easy to scroll right past them because they are almost laughable. My me-time is sleeping or scrolling. So many mums are the same because you have so little head space for friends when your heart is full of family.

So maybe my excitement for my daughter to start school is not simply about watching her develop relationships and learn how to be an upstanding member of society. It might be selfish, but maybe it's more about me. More about the chance I might get to open up my friend group and allow in some people who don’t know (nor want to know) how to make slime.

Anna Murray is an Irish student mum to one little girl.

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