Saturday, September 22, 2012

Juggling Friendships

If I have learned anything since high school it is that friendships do not always stay the same, and they are molded not by length of time but by milestones. I remember going back over Thanksgiving break my freshmen year of college and having a gush fest with my 3 best friends about how we were so lucky to have met in high school because we met our closest friends so early in life and things would always be that way. Most of those friendships did not survive the first year of college. I can’t speak for them, but I was meeting new people with similar interests that lived down the hall or had several classes with me. I also spent my first two summers traveling instead of hanging out at home. I met new best friends. The same thing happened when I transferred schools. It happened again when I married my husband, and when I had children. Some friendships faded, some rekindled, and others blossomed.

I can look back and pin point exactly when my attitude towards friendships changed. I had arranged a surprise visit for a friend’s birthday my junior year of college. Her birthday was a Friday and it was a 4 hour drive to her home from my school, so I did not make it until close to midnight. She was falling asleep and tired and I was disappointed because I missed her so much. The next day I found out she stayed up almost all night talking with a few other people and I was crushed. I was a bit immature I will admit, but I missed her a great deal and had been struggling making friends at a new school. I went back to school convinced we would not be talking to each other again. I began making a greater effort to meet new people and to hang out with acquaintances. I was also dating my future husband at the time. One night in the computer lab, he asked about my friend, and I said I had not talked to her in almost a month, and I told him what had happened. He laughed at me. I went home and thought about whether or not I needed her in my life and if her friendship was worth the effort. (By the way, I completely know how this story sounds. I sound immature and petty and it was a stupid thing to be so angry about.) The next day I called her to apologize. I told her that I missed her and did not want to give up our friendship when we were both in such exciting places in life: school, dating really great guys and figuring out who we were. She is still one of my closest friends and I begrudgingly have my husband to thank for rescuing that friendship.

As life changes, friends come and go. The good ones stick with you through thick and thin. You miss some friendships that crumble. I lost many single friends both male and female when I married my husband. My friends changed again when I had my first child.

By nature, I am not a friendly person. I am more introverted and tend to only talk to people when I am forced to do so for work or other reasons. I like to be home. Now that I am a mom and live at least a half a country away from all my friends, my friendships are again being tested. I am thankful for the many social media outlets available that help me stay in touch, because my kids and phone calls are the worst combination ever in most cases. A typical conversation with a friend who does not have kids looks something like this:

Me: We were out the other day and I was thinking about (Hey sweetie, please don’t climb on that you could get hurt.) I was thinking about…

Friend: What was that? Something about climbing?

Me: Oh the boy was climbing on the desk and I was trying to make sure he didn’t (SCREAM! Hey kiddo, it’s ok! I know you stepped on the book) Anyway, what was I saying?

Friend: Something about a book? I can’t hear you…

Me: Hey, I need to change the girl’s diaper so I will just shoot you an email later.

Pretty frustrating. My husband and I get compliments all the time about how well behaved our children are in public, so I have given up trying to keep the volume down at home. We have yelling competitions, we sing at lunch and things are just too loud for anything other than necessary phone calls unless I call while the kids are eating and I skip a meal. There are different rules with my friends that also have children though. It is as though there is an unspoken Parent Code that tells you to just skip over the kid talk. Here is a typical conversation with my friends with kids:

Me: I am sorry things are so crazy for you right now. I can definitely (Hey buddy, can you put that down?) I’m going to put you on speak phone while I change him. I can definitely understand why she was upset. I will try to reach out to her…

Friend: (Can you bring that over here? You don’t need to be doing that.)

Me: Did I tell you what happened last week?

Friend: Yeah, how did that turn out? (Yes, I need a footlong meatball sub with cheese…)


Friend: Ok, so how did it turn out? (Here is your sandwich, hon.)

Me: Well, it worked itself out….

I have close friends that are single and close friends that are married with babies. We find different ways to make it work. Sometimes months pass between our conversations, but when the relationship is important to both people it is as though no time has passed.  Late night and early morning calls happen. Texting (as much as I despise it) allows for a little human contact. Email conversations build the relationship, and Facebook allows you to see their lives unfold at near stalker level and makes you miss them even more. We send birthday cards, small gifts, little notes. The best thing is that the friends you would walk through fire for, are the ones that find a way to make the friendship as high a priority as is possible.

To all my friends: Thank you for the effort. I miss you and I look forward to the next time I can be reminded that I am not just a mom and a wife!

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