Friendships in adulthood are weird.
When you’re a child, it’s so easy.
“Hi, I like your shirt. Want to be friends?” Then you play for hours and beg your mom to let your new friend live with you.
As an adult, it goes like this: “Hey, I like your shirt.”
Person whispers, “Oh, thanks,” and sidles out of the makeup aisle keeping one eye on you like you’re trying to play grab-ass.
But as we go about our daily routines, we encounter the same people and begin to create a rapport with them. When you have children, navigating that awkward step between “Hi” and “Do you want to be friends?” gets a bit easier.
“Frankie talks about Jordan all the time. Want to get coffee sometime and let them play?” Not only does it put the focus on the needs of your kids rather than yourself, it also makes rejection less personal.
If you have multiple children, hobbies or are an extrovert who loves doing all-the-things, like me, you’ll eventually find yourself in a place where you’ve begun to categorize your friendships.
So far, mine consist of:
1. The Besties
These are the women you’ve been friends with for years, and while you no longer live near each other, they still hold a special place in your heart. Even if you haven’t seen them in six months, you’ll still catch yourself talking about them as though you the two of you just enjoyed a coffee and dessert date at Ikea. You fall back into the rhythm of friendship as if no time at all has passed between visits. You imagine yourself retiring and visiting RV parks around the country with them.
2. The Baby Belly Friends
You experienced pregnancy around the same time. Who else to complain about new stretch marks and body odor with than women who are dealing with the exact same crap? You’ll stay in touch, but eventually they will fall to the wayside as your babies grow and your unique schedules solidify.
3. The Preschool Moms
As previously noted, these are the moms whom you initially befriended for the sake of your kids’ friendships. Nothing makes you feel better about the rough and tumble way your two boys behave than seeing another mom of boys gritting her teeth while trying to wrangle her walking Rock ‘Em ‘Sock ‘Em fleshbags into the car. A mom who understands that when boys play there will be tears is the best kind to have a glass of wine with. A quick “SOS” text and a lunch date is scheduled so you can have an adult to talk to while your kids entertain each other.
4. The Mutual Friends
These are the friends made through friends while hanging out with friends. Sometimes these lead to awkward acquaintances, other times your friend’s “You two would get along so well” turns out to be the holiest of truths. Girls’ nights and holiday parties will never be the same.
5. The Couple Friends
An absolute must for keeping a happy spouse while enjoying a social life. Finding a girlfriend who has a husband that your partner likes hanging out with is pretty much the best. The guys talk sports, video games, or whatever-the-hell while the moms drink cocktails and the kids trash the house. Bliss.
6. Co-Worker Wives
No one understands the pains and frustrations of my issues with my husband’s job like his coworkers’ wives. While I can talk to any of my friends about my husband’s job, the co-worker wives get it. Everyone needs space to talk that doesn’t require a half hour of pre-explanation.
7. The Extracurricular Moms
This applies to anyone dragging their kids to a preplanned activity on a regular basis—dance, sports, music. I honestly never in a million years thought this would be a category in my life. We got our oldest daughter into soccer as a last-minute idea. Thinking about being a soccer mom filled me with an icky feeling of conformity. I’m a tattooed, pierced, purple-haired, Paganish mom who swears! What am I going to have in common with these suburban women? But cheering on our girls and watching them grow together has granted us a closeness that has blown us all away. Having women who not only understand but assuage my fears of raising a tween girl in today’s society has been a sanity saver, too.
I may not have a best friend—one person who knows all the things about me, whom I can share every detail of my life with, and who can finish my thoughts. But I have many good friendships with women who are experiencing the same phases of life that I am, and through our commiseration, laughter and tears, I have all that I need.