My friend and cousin, Kim, texted me that she wanted to have a girlfriend get together just for fun. Jeans, t-shirts wine and food. Not for any particular reason, or to be the hostess at a handbag/makeup/jewelry sales party. Just the girls hanging out and catching up.
I told her that she needed to hang out with us “old” women more, because truthfully we find any excuse to sit in jeans and t-shirts, stuff our faces and wash it all down with wine. But I understand her dilemma. Seasons of life dictate how we live our friendships.
My friendships at 42 are so much different than the ones I had at 22 and 32. (We won’t even go as far back as elementary/junior high days-whew!) At 22 I was fresh out of college, newly married and ready to dive into a career—it was an adjustment enough just to be working 40 hours a week and having a house to take care of. My college friends and I kept in touch via Christmas cards and the occasional lunch, but it was my work friends that I spent the most time with—great people, but not as deep of friendships that I’d had with the friends I grew up with.
Fast forward a decade and I’m in the throes of being the mother of young children. A stay-at-home mother of young children, and they outnumbered me. As much as I felt very blessed to be staying home with them, honestly there were times I would greet my husband before he even got in the door, talking his ear off, desperate to have a conversation beyond “magic words” and how many bites of vegetables were required to leave the table. There were a few years when I felt like he was my only lifeline to the adult world. I remember praying in the car one night that God would put more friends in my life, and crying over it because I felt like such a loser for having to pray for friends in the first place.
I did get out of the house beyond the grocery store by attending Book Club, Bible study or taking the kids on an occasional playdate with other moms. Those friends really helped me grow beyond Mommy Mode, as we bonded over things like helping each other hang curtains or paint a room in one of our houses. I still craved the days of close friendships with my girlfriends where we went places sans children and were just wiser versions of our younger selves, but I became a new kind of grown up from these friendships—and I cherish them.
Now I’m in a good place in life with my friends—probably my favorite so far. My kids are no longer solely dependent on me—I don’t need a babysitter to go anywhere. Coincidentally, a lot of the friends I’ve made in the last ten years I’ve met through my kids and their activities. My friendships with other women vary in so many ways. Some friends I see all the time, others I won’t catch up with for months at a time and yet we still connect like we always have since seventh grade. In part, I think the reason why I’m in such a good place with friendships is that I’ve gotten better at knowing myself—what kind of people are good for me, and what relationships are not. Many of my friends have fed my faith life and all of them have shaped me to who I am right now. The friendships I’ve had with women who were older than me by decades have taught me that getting older is whatever you want it to be. So, despite wishing I had the metabolism of my twenties back, I wouldn’t want to go back to that time in my life. It’s taken me this long to figure some things out!
I’m hoping Kim will have a chance to hang out with us soon. We might even forego the jeans and wear sweats while we make toasts to friendships with our wine. To old friends and new, who loved us as we once were, love us for who we are now, and will be there for us as we move towards knee surgeries and Depends undergarments. Thank you, Lord, for friends!