When I became a mother, I remember my own mother telling me her own grown daughters were her closest friends. She said, "I don't have time to make other friends anymore."
I, of course, thought that was kind of sad. I had friends that weren't family. I had my close friends from high school and colleges, still. Some that I saw often and some that I kept in touch with over Facebook and email. I was making friends in church and in my neighborhood.
Of course, I also counted my mom and sisters as friends. Of course.
As a young mother, there are many hours where even though you are surrounded by people--the little ones you are responsible for growing into big ones--you can feel oh-so-very-much alone. The kind of loneliness that makes you weep when you finally see another adult who smiles at you. It's hard to explain if you haven't experienced it.
For the first twelve years of being a mother, I stayed at home. I was with my kids all day long and worked when they were asleep. My husband worked long hours and was generous with my need to leave the house alone as soon as he came through the door. We were both exhausted... but grateful.
Of course we were grateful. Of course.
But that doesn't change the fact that we were just plain tired.
I craved friendships. Other women and mothers to talk about our children and our level of exhaustion. Maybe just to smile and laugh and say "me too, girl. Me too."
In the last few decades, there have been many women who have filled that loneliness for me. As I have moved multiple times and changed states, cities, neighborhoods, church groups, school districts, there have been many wonderful friends to make those adjustments easier and give some variety to a sometimes monotonous life.
When I started to work outside of the home again, I noticed that it was more difficult to maintain those fellow-mother friendships. Being able to drop everything and head to the park wasn't an option anymore. And I didn't have any kids to take to the park as they were all in school. I've been at the park in the middle of the day and wondered about the lone adults, just watching everyone (my kids!) play. Yeah, I wasn't going to just head to the park without my kids.
Even a spontaneous lunch became more difficult. I often had a meeting or a lunch with a new or potential client... "but let's meet for lunch really soon."
I've had to learn to schedule! Me! Schedule!
"I can meet for lunch on Tuesday at 1 or Friday at 11. Do either of those work for you?"
And once my kids get home from school, I bust home to help with homework, music practicing, driving my kids to activities, spending some quality time. Oh yeah, and the family wants dinner, so...!
Sometimes I leave at night to spend some time with friends. But then I feel guilty. I should be with my husband. Or my kids. Or finally reading that book I need to know for work. Or, I don't know... maybe exercise???
It's weird, seeing friendships move and change without me physically moving. Friends going to concerts together. Friends traveling the world together. Friends having girls night together. Without me. Not because I couldn't, but because I haven't keep those relationships strong enough to be on the list.
Listen, I get it. I tell this shiz to my kids all the time: "You get what you give." "The more you put in, the more you'll like what you get out." "You can't expect a tree to grow without watering it." Etc etc and Zzzzzzz.
I have new work friends and relationships. I have a few friends who I am only growing closer to as we have to work harder to spend time together and serve each other. I have made a few new friends because of the new connections I have made working and not spending those hours alone at the park.
It's made me think a lot about the length of a friendship. It isn't always forever. It isn't always for a decade. Sometimes it's for a year. Or for an event. Sometimes a friendship is strongest on Facebook and Instagram. That doesn't lessen the relationship. It's just a different kind of friendship to add to your life.
Some of the friendships I have made online have been some of the realest I have ever had. There is such support and love. I have met a few of these friends in real life, and we embrace and chat as though we had been friends for decades.
Of course there are all kinds of friendships. Of course.
As I am getting older, though, I see my mom's comment differently. I serve my kids often. I tuck them in, I hold them when they are sad, I celebrate with them when they are happy. I take care of them when they are sick, I feed them, I work so they can have clothes, I help with their homework. It is true that you become closest to those whom you serve... and who you allow to serve you. My kids serve me with kisses and hugs and holding my hand.
They are becoming my best friends. The kind of friends I will have even if I move. Even if Instagram dies tomorrow. Even if they travel the world with other friends. Just like my mother is one of my best friends.
You're right, Mom. Of course you are. Of course.