Rich - FamilyEducation


April 07,2009
My daughter loves her friends; there is no mistaking this. She pours her heart and soul into her friendships. She's attentive to her friends, compliments them for their pretty shirts or outfits, and always takes note of who wore a bow in their hair at school, or who got a new haircut, or is sporting a new new pair of shoes--she's a people-person, through and through. She looks to make friends wherever she goes--sometimes too much; an outing to the park is not complete for her if she hasn't made a friend along the way. "I made a new friend!" T. will gush to me when we leave the park. Or, if she didn't manage to find someone to play with that day, her shoulders will droop. "Didn't you have fun?" I'll ask her. "I didn't make a friend," she'll answer melodramatically with a heavy sigh. She is drawn to other children constantly, like a moth to a flame--as Scott and I often joke. Some days she'll count her friends on her fingers and smile, as if counting riches. And while all this friendship cultivating and worshiping has been going on, I've been thinking lately about my own friends--those near and far. Sometimes, when times are tough, I'll feel strangely friendless, and walk around with drooping shoulders, like T. I'll get bogged down thinking about the friendships that didn't work, or why so-and-so stopped e-mailing me. Other times I'll marvel at how long so many of my friendships have endured--over the years and across great distances. I think the older I get, the more I think about what friends mean to me in my own life--not just the friends I've come to know through being a mom, but all my other friends as well. The other day I made a new friend--at least it feels like a new friendship. It was some weeks in the making--not the accelerated process T. goes through with her friends. But over the weeks I shared in the same thrill T. must experience when she finds a new friend on the playground, or at the grocery store, or in the library. And while it was forged from our shared experiences as mothers, it feels less like a mommy friendship and more like the type of friendship I would have been thrilled about in my pre-child days--meeting a like-minded person who this time happens to also be a mom. Friendships matter to me; they feed the soul, whether you are small or pushing forty, an extrovert or an introvert; whether they are forged from the common bond of motherhood or shared work experiences. I think it's important to take stock of friendships from time to time, weigh the new and old and bask in them a little--even if so many of them are far away friendships, with little or no chance for "face time" in the near future. I like to imagine the friendships of the future, too, the ones still out there waiting to be made. Sometimes I'm tempted to do what T. does--spread my fingers and count my riches. Have your friendships changed or not changed with parenthood? Do you see your perspectives on friendship changing as you grow older?