“Mom friendships. Hold them, fold them, or run?
I sit across from her, tucked away in the back corner booth at our busiest Panera. Even after the lengthy lapse in our friendship, her face is one I know and love. We talk about ‘the sh*t this kid is pulling now’ and ‘that man in my house.’ We discuss articles and recommend books. We talk about each of our school’s policies over pedicures once we’ve killed our carb allotment for the month. It seems so easy, and yet, we are both working really hard to rebuild what was lost. This one is worth it.
I have similar friend groups as most of the women I know. Their presence in my life or ‘ranking’ depends on the level of vulnerability and downright gritty honesty we share. I love my Facebook groups of women! They are light, easy friendships that make us all feel good! When things start to get icky or we find they bring any level of drama to our lives, a simple ‘block-drop’ and like magic they are gone! The friends I meet out once every couple of months offer a level of familiarity and an escape. These are developing friendships that offer fresh perspectives and the possibility of growing into something lasting. There is one major element that separates gal pals from my ‘ride or die’ besties: forgiveness.
When I got my driver’s license, I promptly totaled two cars. I don’t know about you, but when I eff sh*t up, I do it spectacularly. The same is true in my friendships. Eventually, I am going to say and do the WRONG thing; probably, the worst thing. My mistakes haunt me and shame me. My life-long BFF is everything snort-laughing in a dressing room, blackmail-worthy stories of our youth, and hand-holding with quiet tears of compassion a BFF ought to be. Even more, she is someone I look up to and admire.
You see, there was a time I was awful to her. I totaled that friendship; crashed it into a tree and then dropped it into the murky abyss of a deep, dark lake. When what I had done hit me, I was crushed. I will never know why she accepted my apology, but not only did she meet me for lunch, she helped me rebuild our friendship. What we have now I treasure second only to my relationship with my husband. She chose to love me when I deserved nothing. I am in awe of her to this day.
That is not to say all friendships can or should be revived. I was recently contacted by a wayward friend that I loved with all of my girlish heart during those tumultuous teenage/young adult years. Good god, those are lovely memories! It was almost like a storybook; two innocent girls, staying up all night giggling…until that chapter ended. The end of that story was dark; for me, it became a horror story. It has been nearly two decades since and I cannot adequately articulate the tumultuous emotions that flooded my body when she asked me out for a coffee.
After days of deliberation, stomach pains, and distinct, almost guttural shouts of ‘NO’ in my head, I had to let her know that this is not something I am able or willing to resuscitate. Those girls, in that time and place, will always be special to me, but that is where they must stay. It was incredibly difficult to tell her. I was plagued by my own, personal character flaws. ‘How can I say no when others have given me a second chance?’ I thought. The truth is, I had to say ‘no’ because the thought of ‘yes’ was making me viscerally ill.
My first ‘mom-friend’ was a mental health savior! We were both at home with two under two. We took a ‘baby and me’ music class together. I awkwardly went up to her after class one day and said, word-for-word, ‘Would you be my friend?’ She kinda laughed, nervously. When she invited us to her house for a play date it was like being invited to the White House! When my oldest proceeded to poop on the carpet in her bathroom, I wanted to die. Clearly, I was not meant to have mom friends.
Actually, we had a great friendship for many years. We both really wanted it to work, to the point of skimming over anything annoying or negative that came between us with politeness. We never mentioned or worked through anything…because that’s what grown-up friends do, right? WRONG. Eventually, we did the extra ‘polite’ thing and stopped planning lunches. Then, we stopped responding to texts all together, like ‘grown-ups.’
When we ran into each other last year, it was like no time had passed. I missed her. We cautiously and slowly tried again. Things are different this time. We are trying to grow something that is real, raw, and lasting. At this point, with my first two nearly grown, I’m too old and tired to outright ask someone to be my friend. When it comes down to it, a friendship that starts with poopy carpet on the first ‘date’ deservers a second chance!”
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tara Ahrens of Fort Wayne. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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