Friendship: In Her Words
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Friendship: In Her Words
by: Brisa Rojas
photography: Amanda Spurling
When life gets hard, there’s something that’s more comforting than chocolate, warmer than a hot water bottle and more enjoyable than a glass of bubbly. The bond that women share in friendship is inspiring, fun and just plain beautiful.
Here we celebrate female friendship with some WA women sharing their stories about who, why and what makes their friendships flourish.
Amanda and Melissa
Amanda and Melissa met at an information session for new mums that quickly developed into an official playgroup. “I remember thinking I wasn’t really into that kind of thing and that I would go once to check it out, but wasn’t likely to continue. I ended up going to every session and formed a playgroup with most of the women I met there,” says Melissa. “I remember Amanda as a really sweet, friendly woman and she was at most of the meetings with me.”
Amanda found the meetings to be a great opportunity for new mothers to bond. “At the time our babies were just over a month old, so we were all still struggling with the sleeping, crying, feeding…” she says. “Getting to know other girls in the same situation as you and who have similar concerns about your baby and motherhood was fantastic.”
The pair quickly developed a friendship built on mutual support and admiration of one another. “I really admire her creativity, and I am constantly amazed by the projects that she is involved in,” says Melissa. “Also there’s the energy she must have to work part-time, take care of a toddler, have her own business and be involved with various other projects such as the book she is putting together.”
“It is always refreshing to have another person’s perspective on your situation,” Amanda says about her friend. “I think Melissa’s social work training helps her see solutions to the big problems and to not stress about our little frustrations or self-doubts. I’ve always appreciated people who can laugh at the frustrating things in life and Melissa is good at that.”
The support provided by the friendship has been especially valuable for Melissa as her family lives overseas. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Melissa had lived in a number of countries including England, Brazil and Japan before moving to Australia. “I came to Australia because I met my Aussie husband while living in London on a working holiday visa. We chose Perth because my husband had heard good things about it and at the time it was much more affordable than Sydney,” she explains.
The decision to settle in a new city meant that Melissa had to overcome the challenges of making new friends and establishing networks. With a baby, the opportunities to get out and about were also limited. “We knew nobody when we arrived, and it is taking time to make friends as in this stage in our life. We don’t go out the same way we did when we were younger, but the friends we are making seem like they will be long term friends.
I find that although I’ve moved so many times and particularly in my adult life, that the friendships are what make life experiences worthwhile. I have a core group of friends at home that I can count on anytime to be there when I need them, but I find that I usually make a few close friends when I settle somewhere for a while whom I grow to love.”
The courage Melissa has had to move away from her family is a quality that Amanda finds inspiring. “I don’t think it would be easy leaving your home country and moving away from your parents – especially when you start your own family. But it’s great that Melissa manages her time, work, home-life balance well, even though she doesn’t have her mum to call for support.”
Melissa says that being able to count on Amanda for support has been a wonderful blessing. “I have always felt that [Amanda] would be supportive, and I have to admit that I’ve always held her in particular in my mind as someone I know would not hesitate to help me out if I needed it, which is something that has made it easier to be a new parent so far away from all of my family.”
Amanda also receives a great deal of support from Melissa as well as her other playgroup friends. “More recently our group decided we’d swap babysitting services with each other,” she says. “It’s great to be able to leave Ava [Amanda’s daughter] with Melissa and actually spend one on one time with my husband, doing things we used to do before we added to our family. Melissa has offered me advice and encouragement; with our impending overseas flight to the UK. She’s taken Lucy herself to Canada, which I think is a courageous achievement.”
Both of the women agree that female friendships are important connections for the soul. “Friendship brings depth and richness to our lives. It allows another person to speak into our situation and offer their view of our world,” says Amanda. “I think that we all want to know people love us, accept us and understand us; friends do just that – despite our frailties and faults. I think life is best lived sharing your experiences. I don’t think we need to feel isolated and alone when there are girls who are going through the same things and who can offer support or understanding.”
Frances and Margaret
Frances and Margaret have been friends for over twelve years. This dynamic pair met when Frances began shopping at the Cottesloe boutique that Margaret part-owns. Theirs is a friendship full of laughter and fun, and by spending a small amount of time with them, you realise just how much joy each of the women gains from the friendship.
Both Frances and Margaret felt that they connected from the moment they met. “We’ve always just had this amazing rapport. It was an instant thing, absolutely; it’s never faltered for one second. It’s a good, honest, fabulous friendship,” says Margaret. For Frances, she remembers that there was nothing uncomfortable about the friendship developing. “There’s never been that, you know when you get to know someone and you’re not really sure about them. I’ve never had that with Margaret,” she says.
They agree that their friendship is built on a mutual respect of each other’s lives, their differences and the time they have spent together. “I think Margaret is very wise, very down to earth and she’s very fun,” explains Frances. “She’s very unbelievably optimistic. She sees the good in people and she is very clever. She’s just amazing and always happy with a smile on her face. Margaret has seen some tough times but she’s still very happy.”
Margaret also finds inspiration in her friendship with Frances. “I think she is an amazing lady. It’s a very mutual admiration in our friendship,” she says. “This lady is kind, she is very clever and very good with people and she has integrity. And you can count on her – she’s just lovely.”
The support that the women provide each other has been infallible, especially when Margaret suddenly lost her husband four years ago. “My work and my friends saved my life – it didn’t matter if I went into the shop and cried, people came and cried with me,” says Margaret. “Just to know that there are people out there who care as you’re going through the grieving process, it helps you make those steps forwards which you have to do if you want to move forward with your life.”
But this support has not just been limited to the hard times as Margaret explains. “I would say it’s been an ongoing support because people have things that happen in their lives over twelve years and I mean she pretty much has always known that, I’ve been there and I know what she’s going though. Frances has been so kind to me over the years and she is such a fabulous friend to me.”
Frances sees the support as binding. With her family living in Holland, she says that Margaret has become her urban family. “When you have family away you need to look at your friends. I’m probably closer to Margaret than I am to my sister or even to my mum,” she says. “I think that Margaret is so good in her kindness, her generosity, and for me she is always there in a non judgemental, very supportive and very loving way. And she takes over roles that maybe a family or a husband can’t fulfil, she fills that void. I’m very grateful for that, she’s like an angel.”
One aspect that Frances values most about Margaret is her non judgemental attitude. “One of the main things that Margaret doesn’t do is that she doesn’t judge,” Frances says. “If I do stupid things or if I go off track sometimes, she never says ‘How could you do this,’ she always understands. Sometimes you have friends and they might care for you and they might love you but they’re not always the ones that are truthful to you because they have their own lives. I know that with Margaret that if I look good or if I perform well Margaret will be happy for me. She loves people doing well and looking beautiful and that sometimes is important especially with girls.”
For Margaret, it is the many things that the two have in common that she finds deepens their friendship. “I don’t think we are different, I think that we are very similar ladies. We have the same principles, the same values. All the things that you are looking for are just there. We like music, we like kids, our families are important,” she says. “You know when you think about your friends and you accept them warts and all – well I’ve never thought that about Frances. It’s not like those friends where they’re your friends because you’ve known them a long time. It’s a very grounded friendship. It’s a friendship where we both know that we can count on each other.”
The women share one of those unique bonds in friendship, where they sometimes don’t even need words to communicate. “We share a lot of stories, the good and the bad, I think it’s connecting with each other where sometimes you only need half a word and you know Margaret can look at me and she knows what’s going on. Sometimes we talk and we use a lot of words but we know we don’t always need words,” says Frances.
It’s no doubt that this bond will stand the test of time as both Frances and Margaret value each other so deeply. “Some people have friendships where they are friends and then they are not friends, but we are friends forever,” Margaret says. “I think sometimes when you are going through a tough time you need to have someone stable so that you know if all else fails you have someone that you care about that will say come on, tomorrow is another day.”
Flourishnote: We’d love to hear what you think makes a friendship flourish. What are the things that matter?
You may also like to read this article about Love, here and one about the financial costs of bubs, here.