So, Can I Friend You in Real Life?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Last week, I wrote about the importance of women having women friends for xoJane.com. The piece came about after reading this popular New York Times story on the unique challenge of making sincere friendships in adulthood, post-college.

Although I didn’t get into it in the xoJ essay, the whole “friend-ing as parents” thing is its own strange bird. The NYT piece devoted a short section to the awkwardness of it all, and I almost stood up and yelled, “Preeeach!” while reading that part. The premise of it is nuts: Two parents — strangers, essentially — have young’uns who are the same age or in the same playgroup or class. Somehow this automatically means you and the other parent are cool-like-that buds?

The logic is definitely flawed. But what are you supposed to do? In those very early days,  you’d friend another new parent because your kids have the same pattern aden + anais bamboo swaddle blankets. Arbitrary? Not really. Not when you’re working off of two hours of sleep and craving the sound of adult voices.

Honestly, back then, making new mama friends was almost like sticking your hand into a jambalaya hot pot, hoping you pull out something recognizable and palatable. (No okra!) Add to that, the fact that so many of your non-mom friendships changed once you become a parent. It makes sense — the common ground between you has shifted — but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

Yes, women having grown-up girlfriends is important. And  as overwhelming and all-consuming as motherhood can be, it’s that much more essential to have your homies, your “help you dig up your dog“-type friends close by, at the ready  with a firm shoulder, an open ear, a kind word or just a knowing nod.

2 Comments
  • 1
    Catherine says:

    “I’ve had my share of seemingly good girl friendships dry up and vanish because one of us moved away (unavoidable distance) or simply moved on (intentional distance) leaving patchy memories soaked in sour feelings behind.”

    Hi Nicole, I love your article and the comments. Very helpful! Not being able to spend time with my “huckleberry” friends really hurt me. I miss them. We stay in touch via e-mail or postcards (as in, the traditional ones) but life events can’t be summed up in e-mails and postcards so it obviously isn’t the same as being with them (as for the ones with sour endings, I’d rather forget about them).

    I have mum-friends here, but again, it isn’t the same because for some reason, I couldn’t get close to them the same way I did with friends from school or college, or even pre-parenthood. I guess the only reason is I couldn’t commit to friends the same way I did when I was still single (to quote from you again, “You get older and start negotiating new paths, ones that include big-ticket items like partnership and parenthood.”) It’s even harder to meet more people, seeing that I already have trouble catching up with friends who are Here and Now… Like anything, friendship requires a lot of time, work, and of course, money (I add the latter, remembering how, in my early 20s, I sometimes avoided getting together with friends because I couldn’t keep up with the spending, given my measly salary).

    I’m seeking inspiration from the last half of your article…

    • 1.1
      Ms. Mary Mack says:

      Glad you liked it, Catherine. Also happy to hear that you’re inspired to step out of your friend comfort zone and meet some new people!