Today, I was reminded about the importance of friendship in my life. Friends keep us afloat in this world. They see us through the various phases of our lives, cheering our successes and lifting us from the pavement when we crash and burn.
I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing network of friends from all phases of my life whom I admire and love. I also have a husband who is a dear friend to me, and I cherish him. But today, I am reflecting on one particular relationship that is almost beyond description for me (but this is a blog, so I must find the words). I am thinking of my friend, Jen.
I have known Jen since elementary school, and we have stayed close throughout our lives. The thing about really life-long friends is that they get to be part of your make up. Now, Jen and I are not carbon copies of each other. Far from it. She lives in the city, is covered in beautiful tattoos, and is pursuing yet another amazing professional degree. I am an ink-free, stay at home mom of two boys who lives out in the sticks. But, through the many evolutions of our individual lives, the thread between us has only grown stronger.
I moved from Pennsylvania to Washington (USA), sight unseen, in 1998 with my husband. Luckily, we loved Washington and have lived here ever since. But, having every single person on the planet that I knew be a plane ride away was a big adjustment. HUGE adjustment. I am an extreme extrovert, and my relationships are like water to me. Too many days without my loved ones, and I will die. And, I come from a big family who loves to be around each other. I grew up walking distance to my grandmother’s house.
Through this transition, Jen was my constant, writing me letters and sending me homemade videos, so I could hear her voice and see her own adventures unfold. This was an era pre-Facebook and pre-everyone using cell phones. Jen made every effort to always make me feel connected to our common past while also celebrating where we were in the present, which helped me remember who I was despite feeling like I just jumped down the rabbit hole.
Then 6 years later, she actually moved out to Washington herself. I always loved being out here, but this truly changed everything. Someone who actually knew me from my childhood was now part of my day-to-day world once more. It’s not only that I loved her company, but she helped me connect back to myself…the real, raw, unfiltered me.
And the side bonus was that she and my husband grew to be good friends, which is not something that always happens with your spouse and your close friends. He fully understands the importance of Jen in my life and didn’t bat an eye when I said I wanted her to attend the birth of our second child.
And speaking of birth, I will back up to another big life change, which came when I had my first child and transitioned to being a stay at home mom. Once again, Jen was right there anchoring me. Being a stay at home mom has always been the right fit for me, and I am lucky enough to be able to do it.
But, going through the utter and complete identity change from being a professional, working woman in the city to being a stay at home, suburban mom is enough to rattle anyone’s psyche. It took years of adjustment. Every aspect of life as I knew it changed, and to have such a close, long time friend who reminded me still of who I was deep down inside helped me to be the best mom I could be.
While Jen gives me a ton of praise and confidence boosting emails, texts and phone calls, the real treasure is she can be present with me without any pretext or posturing. We don’t even see each other that often, but when we do, we sit down together like no time has passed and laugh until our sides hurt. Time ceases, and we talk candidly and openly about anything and everything. This is really important to me, because I spend a lot of time compartmentalizing my personality.
I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I behave a certain way around my children, my son’s school, neighbors, etc. I’m still myself in these situations, but I try to filter or share things as appropriate given the current company. So, it is a wonderful relief to have someone with whom I can sit down and say anything and know it’s all good. Jen is my lifeline back to myself.
It’s amazing how I may be mulling something over, under the surface for days, and then I get an email out of the blue from her that addresses the exact same sentiment, but in her own life context. I got to tell you, that makes me feel sane, and there are days I need that reminder!
While I suppose this is one big love letter to Jen thanking her for her friendship, this is also meant to emphasize the importance of life-long friends. I know whatever happens, Jen will be with me in one form or another. I can see us now with gray hair, laughing in rocking chairs together. These are the relationships that bring out the best in us, and they are the ones we should work our hardest to maintain, even when the day-to-day grind of life and mommyhood make it seem impossible.
How has a special friendship impacted your life? How do you maintain these important relationships while juggling the responsibilities of being a mom?
This has been an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara B. of Washington (State) USA.
Photo credit to the author.