What Matters In a Friendship

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I don’t care if your house is a mess. I will move the laundry off the couch, sit down and help you fold it while we laugh about how much we hate putting the clean clothes away. I don’t care about your big, slobbering, rambunctious dog. I will accept his kisses and toss his tennis ball. It’s also fine that you don’t have any food in your fridge since I ate before I came anyway. I like your cheap coffee and your microwave popcorn too.

I don’t care if you go out of the house looking like that or if you bought your purse at Payless or if every single piece of clothing you own came from the Goodwill. Likewise, if you shop exclusively at Neiman Marcus, I can handle that too. We will both survive if your roots are showing, if you have a weird mole, a hideous and regretful tattoo and if you’ve recently gained fifteen pounds and none of it is in your boobs.

I don’t care what you eat or don’t eat or if that is organic or even if it isn’t. I don’t care how you feed your children or if you sleep with them, push them in strollers, let them watch Sponge Bob or if you could only breastfeed for a week. I won’t judge if sometimes you are so tired that you give your children chicken nuggets for dinner, put on a Tinkerbell movie, pray they fall asleep early and make yourself a margarita because you’re so damned tired and over it all. I have been there too and you know what? A few parabens and food dyes once in a while are not the end of the world.

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If your child is fussy and throws a royal fit when we are out in public, I don’t care. We all have bad days and of course I will hold your baby while you take the toddler to the bathroom only to find that he has already peed his pants.

I don’t care if you have a dead-end job or if you haven’t yet found your passion. It doesn’t matter to me if you go to yoga twice a day or church once every three or four years and only to make your grandmother happy. I do that too. One day you will finish your novel or start your business and I will be there clapping and grinning and shouting with joy at your success even if we are ninety-seven by the time you get there.

You can cry to me. Tell me about what an ass your spouse has been and how your mother won’t stop tearing into you about each and every little thing and how sometimes you wish you could just get in the car and start driving and leave everyone behind.  For a little while. I have these fantasies too. Mine involve a dark, cold, hotel room where I can sleep and order room service for three days straight while watching every trashy show on TV that I can find.

It’s okay that you can’t cook and that you haven’t thrown me a fancy dinner party with homemade tablescapes that you saw on Pinterest. We can get takeout. There’s this amazing, little, cheap Thai place on the corner. You’ll love it.

I don’t think you’re a loser because you made a stupid mistake and lost your job and now you fry chicken for a living. I’m proud that you went back to school and followed your heart to finally get a degree in what you love instead of what your dad loved. Who cares if you’re thirty-nine when you graduate?

None of these things matter.

If we are friends, this is all I care about:

Are you kind?

I care that you are kind.

Do you mean well even when things don’t always work out? I care about that.

I care that you love, that you are friendly to little kids and servers in restaurants. I need you to be nice to animals, even if they are ugly and whether or not you choose to eat them.

I care that you don’t hurt with your hands or your words. I care that when you mess up, you admit it and that you can apologize sincerely, because of course, everyone makes a poor choice once in a while. We slip sometimes. The ability to recognize our wrongs are learn from them is more important than being perfect.

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Your politics don’t matter to me. Your religion is insignificant, but I care that your words and actions aren’t based in hate. I care that you can tolerate people who are different. I care about empathy and compassion.

I care that in the midst of the noise and clutter of our messy lives, that in the tiny moments we find to connect there is meaning, there are smiles even through tears, that we part feeling just a little bit stronger, a little more hopeful.

That we are better off because of our friendship, that we are not alone – nothing else matters.

Related post: 10 Tips on How to be a Good Friend

Talk To You in 30 Years

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The other day a friend apologized to me for running up to me at an event, asking me a question and running away to chase her two-year-old. She was worried I thought she’d been rude. I immediately had to think…wait, when did she ask me a question, what was it, and did I actually answer her?  You see, I also have a two year old who is a giant CB. (No, no get your mind out of the gutter) A giant CONVERSATION BLOCKER.

I mean, honestly, I cannot remember the last time I was able to have a full conversation or complete a sentence with someone else when my child is around.  I’m pretty sure there have been at least five to 85 people in the past two years who I have completely lost contact with simply because they have become convinced that I either have a severe case of adult undiagnosed ADD or that I am always on the verge of a mini stroke. I can’t complete a flipping thought to save my life. I repeat myself. I walk away from people mid-sentence. I walk away and never return or by the time I do actually return the person who I was trying to talk to is gone. I forget things, constantly.  If it’s not written down in giant letters, with blinking lights and hanging on my actual forehead, I will forget all about it.  So, it’s time for an apology.

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Dear (insert name here),

I would like to say that I’m sorry.

I am so sorry that while you were telling me all about one of the most important parts of your day, week, year my two-year-old thought it would be a perfect time to take a massive poop and announce it to all who were in a 280 mile radius of us.

I am sorry that while we are trying to have a very serious conversation about real estate, politics, spouses, careers, reality TV, Dr. Visits, restaurant reviews, a new wine you recommend (do you have some with you now?!) home renovations, family, money, and vacations my two-year-old repeatedly yelled mommy at the top of his lungs until we both could no longer ignore it.

I am sorry that while we were trying to catch up about life in general my-two-year old was asking for a snack as if I haven’t fed him in 5 days, 6 hours and 3 minutes.

I’m sorry that by the time I got him said snack I literally forgot what we were talking about so we both put up the white flag and surrendered to the fact that we may never know. The conversation we were attempting to have has been put into a secret vault that only toddlers hold the key to.

I am sorry that the friend, sister, daughter, cousin, wife, niece, granddaughter who used to listen to you without any distraction is suddenly like trying to talk to a puppy, on crack, who just saw a squirrel and possibly has to pee.

Please take note that this is in no way a reflection of how I feel about you.

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This is just me… oh crap my kid is chucking sand at another kid, oh shit he’s under water, oh my god how is he already up by the playground, HEY PUT THAT ROCK DOWN MR.!!!, What are you eating now??? Is it actual food??? Okay sorry where was I? And THIS is exactly what I mean.

Just know that I miss you and I promise when my child turns 33 I will be able to sit down and catch up on all the awesome things going on in your life.

Until then it’s literally going to be a crap shoot. I am left with no choice other than to tell you I will see you in 30 years, for now I surrender to the toddler.

My deepest apologies,

Me.

Related post: 10 Reasons Why I Can’t Come to the Phone

11 Signs That You’ve Found Your MBFF

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Your kids are about the same age, and you saw her at the playground, or at mommy-baby yoga, or La Leche League. A sanctimommy started ranting. Maybe how formula is poison, or cloth diapers will destroy the earth, or lizard aliens push vaccines on unsuspecting earthlings. Your eyes met hers. And in synch, they rolled.

In the sleep-deprived trenches of motherhood, your MBFF (mom best friend forever) is always there to lend a hand or a buttwipe. Here are 11 signs that you’ve found her…

1. She’s seen your dirty laundry, literal and figurative. You don’t clean when she comes over – in fact, she’s lucky if you manage to put on a bra. Your lady knows that if she wants to sit on the couch, she’s gotta move the laundry. If it’s clean, she might just sit on top of it. That’s love.

And just like she’s seen your house at its worse, she’s seen you the same way. She knows you sometimes morph into Mommy Dearest when you’re extra low on sleep and caffeine. You yell, you threaten, you tell little darling you’ll throw his Duplos in the garbage if he dumps them one.more.freaking.time. Except you don’t say “freaking.” She hands you a glass of wine and pats your back. That’s true love.

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2. She’s picked up the pet names you use. You’ve caught her asking, offhandedly, how Prince Tinypants is doing at potty training. When she called your kid Prince Tinypants, it seemed normal.

3. She can parent your kids – and you can parent hers. You might kill your mother-in-law for telling your kids what to do, but if your BFF barks an order, they better hop to – or else. In fact, you might be standing right there when she tells Prince Tinypants to stop grabbing his penis in Target. And you’ve certainly told the kid she calls MumMums to stop hawking loogies at the dog. And he listened, too.

4. She’s always there to say you don’t suck. When a grandmother tells you off because Prince Tinypants bit her kid at open gym, you can call your MBFF and weep into your cell phone from the parking lot. “She said he’s a m-m-m-monster,” you stutter.

“You’re on the rag and she’s a raging troll bitch,” your MBFF says.

“You’re right,” you sniffle. “And I am on the rag.”

5. She sticks up for you. In fact, The raging troll bitch never would have reduced you to tears if your MBFF had been there. Maybe your MBFF would have just stood behind you and glared, thus stopping the troll mid-rant. Maybe she’d have shouted her down in a delightfully Jerry Springer-esque hold-my-earrings sort of moment. Or maybe she have positioned herself behind the troll and just made blowjob motions with her mouth until she shut up. But whatever had happened wouldn’t have ended with a puddle of tears. Except possibly for the troll bitch.

6. She listens to you complain about …. well, anything. She knows you love your dear partner, and his/her inability to shut drawers doesn’t a divorce make. Your MBFF knows your feelings on each sister-in-law, your mother, your kids, and even your dog. You know the same about her. Sometimes, you just need an open ear and a shut mouth – someone to listen to how you’re worried Prince Tinypants is a budding sociopath. That’s your MBFF.

7. You pick up each other’s slack. Did you forget cookies for the PTA meeting? She’ll stop at Publix on her way over. Did she forget baby wipes? You’ve got a buttwipe with her name on it. She’ll always buy you a coffee on her way to the playdate – and she doesn’t need to ask how you take it. Even your husband can’t manage that.

8. Your cycles have synched. Someone’s aggressive-uterus overpowered the other, and wham! You always know when you’re MBFF has a visit from Aunt Flo, because she’s camped out at your place, too. You’ve bonded over cramps, and weighed the best period options: tampon? Maxi? Reuseable pad or cup? You know way too much about each other’s vaginas by now.

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9. You’ve given up on quarantines. Her kids have the snots? Your kids are bound to have them in a day, so you might as well get your ass over there and parent for her while she recovers. You don’t worry about passing germs back and forth, because by the time they surface, the damage is done. 

10. You’ve helped her clean. There are no secrets here. You know the disaster that is her master bath, and she knows what your dining room looks like. You’ve done her dishes. She’s scrubbed your bathroom. You’ve washed floors and wiped tables and even probably cleaned snot off each other’s kids. Maybe poop. It takes true love to clean up someone else’s poop.

11. Sister wives make sense. You know your life would be so much easier if you could just shack up, share childcare, divide up housework, and not spend all your time talking to people the approximate size of hobbits. Except for that husband-sharing part, you’re in. Maybe you can compromise with a compound. Don’t lie: you and your MBFF have discussed it.

Related post: The 10 Mom Friends Every Mom Needs

A Thank You To My True Friends

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I confess, I judged each of you before I got to know you. Skinny, rich, probable Jesus Freak, Miss Perfect.

I imagined lives for every one of you before we ever spoke and these were idyllic lives where your children never got on your nerves and you went on family vacations where no one vomited for any reason, least of all drunkenness. I made up these lives where none of you had room for me and my mess. I imagined that your collective worst problem involved not having enough time to address seventy-five personalized Christmas cards and I thought, well if that’s all they know of suffering then they will hate me. I will scare them half to death and they won’t let their kids around mine for sure. So I hid from you.

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Thank you for not being as scared as I was. Because you had the courage to “go first” and be the vulnerable ones, I could drop the charade once and for all and admit my shame and my failures. You have no idea how enormously freeing this was for me. Thank you for, after learning my darkest secrets, still letting your kids play with mine at Chick-Fil-A on rainy days when I feel like I will go insane if I have to be stuck in the house alone with a preschooler for one more minute. Oh, and thank you too for not judging my vanilla shake with extra whipped cream and cherries and for understanding how much I needed it.

You get me. You understood on some unconscious level that I am an introvert, but that I still need companionship and that I am sometimes too shy to call or text or to reach out and ask for other people’s time, so you did it for me – all of you. My gratitude for this is so great that I will pick your kids up at school, feed them, bring them lunch when you are out of bread and peanut butter. I will bring them to my house and throw them in the tub with mine if you are sick or sad or just plain exhausted. And I know you’d do the exact same thing for me, because you already have.

My friends, I’m glad you too have dark pasts filled with stupid mistakes. Thank you for surviving hardship and heartbreak and becoming bad-ass, beautiful women either because of or in spite of your obstacles. You inspire me. I want you to know that when you own your stories and tell me with a smile how you overdosed, and you were pregnant at 19 with a drug dealer’s baby,  and you have a child that is severely disabled, and you had a man literally try to kill you, and your mom was a paranoid schizophrenic and you used to be a stripper and you had freaking cancer and lived to tell about it or worst of all that your kids had cancer and God knows what else crazy you’ve made it through, that you show me over and over that I am not alone, that none of us are alone. I forget this sometimes. My brain likes to revert back to a scared little girl place of unending loneliness and you remind me every day that this isn’t real. Loneliness is a big old lie. We’re in this shit together and we’re going to make it together.

I got through the darkest time of my life because I had true friends. Thank you for skipping the small talk. Thank you for every single time you made me laugh and exclaim “OH MY GOD! Yours does that, too?” Thank you for not being perfect, for having kids who throw fits and won’t sleep. Thank you for having husbands who are weird/irritable/ watch too much football/ secretly text other women and dogs who destroy your houses. Thank you for not cleaning up too much before I come over and for fully owning up to the fact that your gorgeous boobs are so not real.

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You try as hard as I do. Your struggles are real. We all daydream of an alternate reality sometimes: an easy breeze through life’s milestones where everything doesn’t always have to come at some enormous expense. But maybe these trials are what brought us together.

I often feel like you girls, my village, my tribe, my very foundation, are the reward in a divine deal. So yeah, I had to live through some shit, but in return I get to have each one of you in my life. You’re my helpers and my guardian angels. You’re the ones who hold my hands and cheer me on while I walk barefoot over the hot coals and you’ll be there to party with me on the other side too. Because when one of us makes it, we all make it.

So thank you, with all that I have and all that I am, for being there when I was drowning, for seeing that I couldn’t swim and for reaching into that dark, cold water and pulling me out alive.

Related post: What Matters In a Friendship

The 10 Mom Friends Every Mom Needs

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Before you have kids, finding friends is all about you; who you want to hang out with, who you have the most in common with and who you can you can depend on for a good time. Once kids enter the picture, though, friendships take on new meaning. You need friends who understand exactly what you’re going through and won’t be annoyed when it takes six months to get a lunch on the calendar and can’t maintain a phone conversation for more than three minutes. You need moms who just plain get it, and make motherhood easier, not harder, for you.

Do you have the right mix of moms surrounding you? Here are the ten moms every mom needs in her life:

1. The MacGyver Mom. She’s prepared for everything, always. Find yourself at a nasty rest stop with no sink in sight? She’s got the Purell on hand. She carries enough extra snacks for your kids, always has Band-Aids and baby wipes on her and keeps a few extra booster seats in the car for impromptu playmates.

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2. The Mom Who Can’t Be Grossed Out. She wasn’t phased when your kid puked in her car, and gets a sick thrill combing other people’s kids hair for lice. She’s the first one you call about that nasty rash… on them, or you.

3. The Mom Who Lives To Cook. This mom gets off on receiving compliments on her cooking, and she’ll go above and beyond to get her fix. She’s always inviting you over for dinner, creating meal wheels for sick friends and bringing homemade goodies to book club. She’s a complete culinary over-achiever, but you don’t mind because, hello — home cooking?!

4. The Crafty DIY Mom Who Knows Every Home Remedy. Whether it’s a cabinet door that won’t stay closed, how to get Vaseline out of your toddler’s hair, or where to find 2000 popsicle sticks at 3AM for a school project due in five hours, she’s your girl. And she already has everything you need, right there in her tidy little craft room.

5. The True Blue Friend. Nothing shocks her, she never judges you and she never, ever makes you feel like a failure of a parent. She may not be your go-to for the best time ever friend (if she is, she’s gold,) but you can count on her for anything, anytime.

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6. The Neighborhood Fun House Mom. Her house is like a magnet. She always has snacks, games, kid-friendly new releases, and most of all, never seems to mind entertaining the whole ‘hood. She might be an angel in disguise.

7The Mom Who Likes A Good Glass Of Wine But Hates Drinking Alone. Wine mom never minds if you need to bring along a kid or two to your lunch and won’t give you a hard time for being late. You never feel guilty in her presence and she’s always up for a good time. She’s chill, she’s happy and she’s… wait, is she passed out?

8. The Mom Who You Can Ignore Your Kids With. You adore her, she adores you, and you have kids who play well enough together that you can pretend they aren’t there and catch up. It’s the trifecta of mommy-friendships.

9. The Mom With A Baby. The last thing you want is another baby, HELL NO, but a sweet little baby fix every now and then? Yes, please. Plus, once your kids are no longer the cute ones, it’s nice to be reminded of just how trying those days were… especially when you have a tween or teen slamming the door in your face. (Younger Kid Mom also serves as excellent free birth control.)

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10. The Mom With Older Kids. She’s out of the trenches. Her hair is done, her clothes are stylish (and clean), and her kids are reasonably independent and well-behaved. Hanging out with her makes you feel like there might be hope for you yet… Someday. Maybe.

Related post: The Six Mothers Every Mother Hates