May 04, 2010

The Evolution of My Friendships

A friend posed the question out of Facebook: What does friendship mean to you?

Even though I know her status update was triggered by frustrations with a friend of hers, it really got me to start thinking about how my friendships have evolved over my 34 years of life.

Grade School: I often wonder if my experience at Catholic School was the same experience that the other kids had in Public School. Even in 5th grade, the girls were horrible and mean. I wasn't asked to be in the Fluorescent Club (i.e. girls that painted their nails in fluorescent pink, wore pink scarves and pink shoes...pink pink pink).

Middle School: I begged my parents to let me go to Public School. I knew all the kids- most of them I had played softball or went to Girl Scouts with so it wasn't going to be a horrible transition. I remember my BFF in 6th grade. Her name was Carrie and we did EVERYthing together. Her older brother played hockey. Thus began my fascination with  boys and hockey. This fascination led me all the way into high school. I seemed to make one close friend at a time with a few sprinkled friendships on the side. Middle school was awful and confusing- I followed my older sister around like a puppy and thought her burnout friends were the coolest. After getting into some trouble from these said friends, I began to get involved more in school-related activities- softball and music.

High School: By 9th grade, I had a very core group of girlfriends. We all lived in about the same neighborhood and were all involved in pretty much the same activities. We had our smattering of boys mixed in but up through 11th grade, had a great time together. 11th grade marked the beginning of my high school sweetheart days. A sweetheart that went to another school. A sweetheart whom I adored. My core group of girls didn't like my spending time with this guy all the time. My core group of girls dumped me. Shunned me. Left me to fend for myself IN MY SENIOR YEAR. A year when friends usually get together and desperately try and put together their lasting memories. My memory was my girls turning to walk the other way when I came down the hall. Girls who blatantly left me out of plans. Girls who ruined just about everything great that high school was turning out to be. I'd love to give you a storybook ending with me and my high school sweetheart riding off into the sunset giving everyone who might be watching the finger as we proved everyone wrong. That definitely did not happen.

College: College is where I found my lifelong friends. I switched schools in the midst of my freshman year, but heading to Concordia-St. Paul was one of the best decisions I ever made as I met some of the best, most talented people I will ever know in my lifetime. By the end of freshman year, high school sweetheart and I parted ways as he headed off to Chi-town to attend Northwestern on scholarship. I didn't bother with boyfriends much in college, sure, I dated, but I really just wanted to have fun. I am still as good as friends today with a couple of my college girlfriends.

Post-College: Post-college is crazy. It is scary. It is exciting. This is where all the life changes start to happen. The first of us met a guy. She was no longer interested in club hopping. We of course threw at her the "You met a guy and now you've changed" deal. We lost our friend. It was down to just the two of us and any new stray friends that we picked up along the way from work, hobbies and what not.

After that, I wasted two years dating a guy who didn't know his head from his ass and I finally kicked him to the curb to find the real love of my life and my now husband.

There are a few of us who remained- who were my bridesmaids. We swore to remain friends no matter what life changes were thrown our way. I've found that pact to be harder and harder to keep the older I get and the more my family evolves. The four of us couldn't be at more different places in our lives and sometimes I wonder if those bonds are strong enough to hold together. Having a child, I experienced the biggest life change ever. I knew my friends cared about me and were happy for me; however, have had more than a slight disinterest in being a part of my son's life. They haven't seen him since last July. They missed his 1st birthday. Outside of YouTube, they have never seen him walk or talk. He has no idea who these women are. For some reason, it bothers me. I feel like I'm expected to be a part of all of their big moments, but the biggest moment of my life is walking and talking and they seem to care less. No matter how many times I invite them over to my house, there are always convenient excuses.

While these three women are all magnificent people, the differences in our lifestyles is becoming painfully obvious. Over the past 20 months since giving birth to my son, I've used these friends as my outlet. A window into the world of adults. However, it is no longer the same. I want to talk about my kiddo but nobody wants to hear about it. Things just feel different.

There is still the one friend. The first of the pack to go off and get married. The one we shunned. Her and I actually made up and we are good friends again. We get each other. Even though I got married several years after her, our lives have been strangely parallel. We both had to deal with miscarriages and infertility. We got pregnant just 4 months apart, we both now have healthy baby boys very close in age and we both deal with the same crap from our husbands! Why don't I spend more time with her you ask? Unfortunately, after she got married, she moved about 2 hours outside of the Twin Cities. Now that we have kids, it is even harder to get together. Despite the distance, we still e-mail and comment on each others' posts on Facebook. We're not really phone people, so we don't talk on the phone much, but somehow, we're still there for each other as needed. We both wished that we lived closer, but are going to do the best we can to support each other- even if just electronically or, a couple visits a year. I really have grown to appreciate our friendship despite the setbacks we had way back in our mid-20's.

I am slowly easing into the world of mommy blogging in hopes of finding other moms out there with babes my son's age. I ache and long to have adult interaction from those who actually understand what it is like. Having a baby is awesome, but it is also challenging. It is a complete 180 from the life I knew before, and I am searching high and low for people who understand what that is like. I second guess trying to make new friends because at 34, doesn't everyone already have their friends? Why would they want a new one! I need to get over that as I am sure there are many women who feel exactly like I do.

Overall, the older I get, the more my priorities change. I would far rather spend time with my husband and little boy over anyone else at any time. At the end of the day, and essentially, until the end of time, he has become and will always be my one and only best friend. And now, I get to include my son into that package. Life is good!

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