Debbie Leigh: Parenthood: never a truer test of friendship

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ON a rare trip to the cinema I became slightly concerned that a worrying trend was developing.

Generally a lover of French thrillers and gritty British dramas – yes I do realise that makes me sound like a pretentious person – I appear to have developed a weakness for a very different kind of film.

These days I find I’m attracted to films about parents. Baby-bore alert.

First I found it impossible to resist SJP’s I Don’t Know How She Does It, next Friends with Kids.

In my defence, this latest “mom rom-com” tackles something I can relate to, the decidedly un-Hollywood issue of how becoming a parent affects your relationships.

First you have the sleep deprivation, which turns some into zombies and others into even more terrifying monsters; throw in somersaulting hormones which ensure any comment, however complimentary, is perceived as a personal attack; plus the fact that while heavily pregnant or breastfeeding, most women feel about as attractive as that ginger bloke from The Full Monty.

Yep, those early days can be tough.

In fact, sticky beak your way into a conversation between a gaggle of newish mums and you’re guaranteed to hear them slagging off the dads for crimes most men wouldn’t even know existed – not doing night feeds; never getting home before baby’s bedtime and, worst of all, failing to understand that the answer to their wife asking “have I got time for a quick shower before you go to work?” should ALWAYS be “yes”.

But hey, men being men is no surprise.

Why do we expect them to suddenly become sensitive, thoughtful creatures just because there’s now three of you sharing a house?

What can be even more upsetting and unexpected is the wedge – and I’m not talking about the oh-so-now summer shoe – that babies can drive between you and your pals.

I’m the first to develop elbows sharper than Victoria Beckham’s at the thought of becoming BFFs with someone just because we both got pregnant around the same time.

But there’s no denying that once you have a sproglet you suddenly have something in common with people you would have previously taken 10 flights of stairs to avoid.

I’m not saying parents like to whinge (I know far too many to risk such a claim) but we do like to seize every opportunity to share our little horrors’ horror stories.

And if owning a cat is the closest you plan to get, you can feel kind of left out once the parent clique get gabbing.

Likewise, new mums soon learn that most childless mates see yet another moan about sleepless nights as the green light for them to tune out and begin mentally compiling their weekend to-do list.

Gone are the days when you could while away a good hour over the phone, dissecting the weekend’s antics and planning party outfits.

In fact you might as well give up any hope of phonecalls with childless friends as your bathtime/bedtime commitments versus their after-work commute mean there is no longer a good time to talk.

As the film’s characters discover when their best friends have kids, their needs – boozy birthday nights out and lengthy post-midnight discussions about where past relationships went wrong – suddenly take a back seat.

Even worse, their once fun-loving pals metamorphosise into grumpy hermits with less charisma than one-time X Factor winner Leon Jackson.

If you’re not careful, or lucky enough to have truly great friends, you can easily drift apart.

Just remember, true friendship is when two friends can walk in opposite directions yet remain side by side.

BE CURIOUS: One of the events at a previous Be Curious festival.

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