I have great friends from all different times in my life. I have my grade school friends, girlfriends from high school and college, and those who I met as an adult through my career and motherhood. They all hold a special place in my heart. I feel so grateful that I am able to keep up with them on social media. A quick “like” lets them know I’m thinking of them and no one has to put forth a ton of effort. A text here and there, maybe a coffee every once in a while, but most of them understand that as a mom of four, I am busy. I don’t have time for high-maintenance friendship.
But my best friend is the most high-maintenance of all.
We were roommates in college and have been through a lot together. I was there when she got married junior year. I supported her through her divorce and second marriage. I have been with her for jobs and moves and drama with her sisters. I even flew to Vegas with her for marriage number three. It has been a commitment for 25 years. We are as close as can be, but she demands way too much from me as a friend, and I can no longer give her what she wants.
Despite having had a few husbands, she has no kids. She never had any interest in children. For her, it’s all about spoiling herself and her dogs and her man. And she treats herself well. She has designer bags and shoes and an expensive SUV. She and her husband have a trendy loft in the city. She has traveled the world and her passport can prove it. It’s a pretty fun life. But it is not the same life I lead. And I will never have that kind of life. I have four kids and a husband and a minivan. We aren’t even living on the same planet, and she doesn’t understand the difference.
I’m not in the car for hours driving from sales call to sales call, and I can’t talk on the phone every time that she wants to chat. I will often see her on my caller ID and send it straight to voicemail. I don’t have time for it. I’m cleaning my house or helping with homework or driving to practice. I can’t sacrifice my time with my kids to listen to her bullshit. That probably sounds shitty, but that’s really what it is sometimes. I’m sorry that your nail tech did a bad job and your gel is already chipping. But seriously, did that deserve a phone call? A text with a pic and a “that sucks,” from me should be enough. But for her, it’s not.
Speaking of nails, she truly cannot understand why I don’t get mine done every two weeks like she does, and even worse, why I can’t drop everything at a moment’s notice to go with her. She feels like I have “lost myself.” I have quit trying and let myself go. No, I haven’t let myself go; my focus is just somewhere else. I loved to get my nails done when I worked out of the house. But frankly, it just isn’t a priority for me these days. I’d rather spend that money on shoes for my kids. A mom and someone without kids simply don’t have the same priorities. I understand that. She does not.
How have I not tried the newest restaurants or seen the latest movies? Well, because date night isn’t every night. No, I haven’t finished “Virgin River” yet, because I don’t have hours to binge. I’d have to check into a hotel for the weekend in order to make that happen. She heads to Mexico for a quick five days and I go to Target on Thursday night alone. Those are pretty parallel excursions if you look at the worlds in which we live. I see it. She doesn’t.
We went away on a family vacation a few weeks ago. She knew when we were leaving and when we would be back. Almost 10 days at the beach with our family, and we had been looking forward to it all year. The first day we were gone, she called. I texted her asking if everything was okay. When she responded that she just wanted to chat, I told her that we were on the beach and I’d get back to her when we got back the next week. Two days later, she FaceTimed me three times while we were playing mini golf. This time I called because I figured three calls in an hour must have been important. The reason for the call? She just missed me. Fuck! It’s too much. It’s like I’m not allowed to have any fun without her.
To be fair, I do call her. But it’s when I can give her the attention that she needs. I set aside plenty of time to be a good friend and listen to what she has to say. I want to know what’s happening in her life, but I don’t need a play-by-play with a half a dozen calls a day. I don’t even check in with my husband that much!
I know that her life hasn’t been easy and that she gets lonely. I guess that’s where I can’t understand what she is going through. You are never lonely when five people depend on you. There isn’t time to wallow in your sorrows, unless its 3 a.m. and you’re lying awake, alone in your thoughts. She has plenty of time to think. And that is hard.
I won’t say that I feel sorry for her, because I don’t. She has a really great life and she is happy. She doesn’t have the same lifestyle that I have because she chose not to — not because she couldn’t. I did choose the mom life over a career. I don’t regret that. As a matter of fact, I wish I had done it sooner and had more kids. We are very different in that respect. But having said that, I don’t bemoan my daily minutia to her because I know she can’t relate. She doesn’t want to hear it, and I don’t bog her down with it. I wish that she understood that enough to extend the same courtesy to me.
She is my very best friend and I would do anything in the world for her. In a true emergency (the wrong dressing on your salad doesn’t count), I would drop everything and be right by her side. She knows that, and she would do the same for me. She was in my wedding. She was the first one at the hospital when my daughter was born, bearing a giant Starbucks and a receiving blanket. When she turned 40, I had a cake delivered from her favorite bakery. The summer she got shingles, I delivered ice packs and a giant Coke. She is my heart and soul.
I love our dinners together and the once-a-year pedicure. I just wish that it could be enough for her. I wish that she could see that a quick text to say “hey” sometimes is all that I have to give.
I want her to be in my life forever. I hope that we can continue to share the best and worst of our lives with one another. In the end, there is no one that I would rather talk to than her. I just can’t take 45 minutes at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday to do it.