Today something unlike anything I’ve experienced since 2009 happened. I took a nap. A really long nap. Like three hours long, long. Even more unbelievable is the fact that my children were sleeping one un-sound-proofed floor beneath me and didn’t make a peep. Not for three blissful REM-filled hours.
Did I mention I napped for three hours???
As I was coming out of my afternoon coma, I had a rare opportunity to ponder the last whirlwind week of work-related travel. Since I work from home full-time now, I don’t often get to see anyone on my sales team anymore, especially my manager. Nicci and I have worked at CDWG for more than 10 years together and were friends long before she was ever my boss. A little surprising is the fact that we understand the boundaries of our current relationship without having to compromise our friendship bond. While at times my tenure with the company gets the best of my ego, it doesn’t take much of a reprimand from Nicci to put me back in my place. The truth is, I respect her and I want to see her succeed. Since my performance and overall professional behavior is a reflection on her, I am not resentful of falling in line for her, even when I know there are more than a few instances when she wishes she didn’t have to ask me to in the first place. Unfortunately, our friendship has had to take a backseat due to the miles that separate us and the fact that we both lead very busy lives as mothers and wives, in addition to our full-time work schedules. This past week gave us a chance to reignite the friendship connection while fighting Houston traffic from one customer meeting to another. There may have been a few margaritas involved as well. One topic that came up in conversation was the inevitable change that occurs between a woman and her social circle once she starts having children. Motherhood may cause a woman to withdraw completely from her girlfriends and focus exclusively on her family, gravitate toward old or new friends that also have children or, in some cases, move toward closer friendships with childless women if for no other reason than they remind you of a time that once was. But there is something else to consider.
I think we just get older, and as we age the problems we face tend to get bigger and have bigger consequences. Whether we want to or not, we also become more accountable. Losing a job now isn’t quite the same as when I was fired from Mountain Jack’s in college because I added gratuity to a table of two who came in as we were closing because, a. I was pissed, and b. I had a sneaking suspicion they weren’t going to tip me anyway (I’ll save my restaurant customer profiling for another blog). If we lose our jobs now, we’re screwed, with a capital F. Some of us choose to have children and pets who rely on us for every bit of their existence on this planet. Things happen. Our kids in particular have been sick on and off for a month and one of our dogs recently had surgery on her paw. That’s a lot of pressure, a lot of time and money spent and an awful lot of thanklessness. On top of these things that seem to take up all of our time, we also sometimes start losing loved ones – grandparents, aunts & uncles, even parents – people who helped define who we are as people. Like I said, life becomes magnified as we get older. This is how parents of teenagers can so confidently assure their children that life isn’t nearly as bad as they perceive it to be. And don’t believe what the ads say – there is no reversing stretch marks.
So considering all of this, how then do we find the time or even the head space for our girlfriends? We oftentimes don’t, even though we probably need them more than ever. But (and this is a big but), what we don’t need are girlfriends who can’t simply cut the shit. Know what I mean when I say that? I used to be one of those people who said I didn’t want to meet anymore people because I already had so many friends and I just didn’t have the time to foster new relationships. That was foolish of me. I actually do have time for women who get it. Women who get that life is hard, that appearances are not always what they seem and who don’t feel a constant need to pass judgment on their fellow hard-working, circumstance-enduring “girlfriends.” I also have time for women who don’t always tell me what I want to hear, but who genuinely want me to live a happy and fulfilling life. As luck would have it, I’ve met my fair share of these lovely ladies, some as recently as a year ago. Turns out, one was right under my nose for years in Chicago and I only discovered her true awesomeness once I’d moved to Colorado. I’ve also met a few women who I once believed had my best interests at heart, only to be left heart-broken time and time again. I assure you, this is not my version of a Taylor Swift album. But I also can’t wrap up a post about friendship without talking about the one.
In my case, I met the one when I boarded the school bus on the first day of sixth grade. Our respective elementary schools were merging and I was nervous about seeing all the new faces. I took a seat next to Katie, we talked about our mutual love of horses, and history was made. At least a hundred high-risk horseback rides and 23 years later, she is still the one. The one I went to Cancun with at 16 and kept tally of how many strawberry daiquiries we drank and how many boys we made out with. The one who still can’t believe she is friends with me despite my outright Mean Girls behavior all through highschool. The one I conspired with to put on the biggest house party Milton, Wisconsin has ever seen. The one who knows my “type” so well that she actually pointed out my next boyfriend in freshman Chem at UW-Madison. We dated for a year. The one I called (and still call) every time I had a pet emergency or worse, lost one. The one, though unnamed, who knowingly stood next to me as my maid of honor on my wedding day. The one I’ve called crying more times than I could even try to count, not least of which were the last days of my mother’s life when I would call her wailing from inside my car in the parking garage each morning before going to work. The one who loves my children like they are her own. The one whose pain is my pain, whose happiness is my happiness. The one who cuts the shit, always.
To have a friend like her is to truly be blessed. Love you, girl.