A Real Friend

Do you have a real friend?  A friend close by with a kid close in age that you can call or visit with or without baby in tow?  They're hard to come by, and even harder to keep, but it's worth it to try.

When I became a parent, I gradually lost most of my childless friends.  Sure, we still chat once in a blue moon.  One of us will make a point to write on the other's facebook wall or send a chain letter email every once and again.  Some of them would even stop by for dinner after my babies went down for the night, which used to be quite nice.  But it's hard to keep up adult relationships with those who like to have a conversation consisting of real sentences and maybe even paragraphs once you have a child.

Communicating in sentences, telling stories, learning about the other's day in fluent conversation is simply not possible with a toddler around.  Friends without children can get frustrated quickly.  New friends you try to make will lose interest or find you rude when, just as they're telling you something close to their heart, you need to interrupt them to stop your two year old from licking a DVD.  They'll give you another chance, sure, but when they've gotten three words more into the story, and you have to, again, stop them to coerce a pen out of your baby's hands that she had set her heart on destroying your furniture with, they'll start to lose steam.  By the time they have to shout the end of the story over your toddler screaming about nothing in particular to nobody in particular, well, you've pretty much lost them.

Unless you've found a goldmine of understanding within them, they'll feel like a heel, and you'll feel like a bad friend, all while your babies happily sip away at a 50 percent grape juice water mixture you just handed them before they decide it would be more fun to turn the cups upside down and "water" the carpet, so that you can't even properly walk your disgusted friend to the door when they leave.

This is why it's important to at least attempt to find a mom friend.  Mine found me, and I have a feeling I will be forever grateful.  We were at the pool a few months ago, and she was very friendly.  She gave me her number.  I didn't call.  Sometimes, you're just so overwhelmed with your family, your cleaning, your routines, you feel like you just don't have the energy to even make a phone call.  And if you do make that phone call, then what if you actually have to meet that person somewhere?  The effort can be too much.  Make it.  I'm telling you.  It ends up being a relief in the end.

In my case, she eventually called me.  She stopped by.  I still didn't call.  We ran into them outside in our condo complex a few times and chatted while our babies played.  I still didn't call.  She dropped off presents for the babies, randomly.  Okay, okay.  I called. 

The babies and I traipsed over there this afternoon, and as the stay at home mother of a singleton who is only 14 months old, her house was veritably spotless.  The babies promptly wrecked it, pulling out toys, exploring off-limit areas and generally being a nuisance.  She didn't mind.  She wants a mom friend, too.  She made me coffee, and we got about two dozen half conversations in, which has got to be a record of some sort in mommy friendom.  Of course, I have all sorts of questions for her that are unrelated and split because of the way in which we had to talk, but that just gives us all the more reason to get together again.

It was really worth it.  I often feel too tired to try to coordinate anything with anybody.  Getting the three of us out of the house on just the small adventures we have to the library and the Walgreens is stressful enough.  If you've got a friend who's willing to put up with your children, you've got a keeper.

And you know what I said up there about childless friends not understanding?  That's not true.  Some of them will, just as some friends with children won't.  If you've got a friend who's willing to put up with your children, you keep that friend close.  Age doesn't matter, whether or not they have kids doesn't matter.  A kindred spirit is a kindred spirit, and we all need one of those

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