- January 28, 2013
- Posted by: Sharon Greenthal
- Category: empty nest
The close friends I have now, for the most part, are friends I made when my children were very young. The pre-school rule that mandated all students in the class be invited to every birthday party may not have been as important for the kids as it was for the parents, who all stood around chatting and getting to know each other as their little ones tumbled or sang or painted or baked cupcakes, depending on the theme of the party. Picking up our children from school was as important for our socialization as it was for our kids’ sense of security when they walked out and saw us there, juice box and cookies in hand. Eventually, us moms (and dads) all began to get to know each other and form friendships, and after a few tentative “let’s have dinners,” bonds were formed.
Some friendships faded away, but the good ones, the ones that really mattered, have endured. Not that there haven’t been ups and downs – lives take twists and turns that can interfere with the continuum of relationships. But going through all of the milestones together – from kindergarten to middle school, high school proms to college graduations, PMS to menopause, B’nai Mitzvahs to, more recently weddings and grandchildren – it’s all become a collective set of memories and moments that we share and reach back to over and over to remind ourselves that we are all in this together, that we’ve made it this far and will make it farther still.
My experience was vastly different from the experience of another mom that I read about. The author talked about her feeling that she didn’t belong among the moms at pick-up each afternoon at her children’s school. Most of the comments were in agreement with her, ranging from feeling too “granola” for the other moms to feeling like the pick-up was a latter-day high school cafeteria. My heart broke for these moms who felt so isolated, but I was also a little irritated, too – for goodness sake, we’re all adults now. If someone isn’t nice to you, look around and find someone else. If someone isn’t as “granola” as you, march yourself down to the local food co-op and find some moms just as crunchy as you are. Join a club, volunteer, go to the park and chat up the other moms pushing their kids on the swings. No one will make friends by waiting for someone else to speak first, and if you’re rejected, then so be it. I went through dozens of women and more than a few hurt feelings before finding the ones who were a love-match for me. It’s not easy.
The time we have with our children when they’re small is brief, and among the gifts those years bring is the opportunity to meet other women who are going through the same experiences. Being a parent takes courage, emotional fortitude, and a little bit of good luck. Finding friends who matter takes much of the same.