When You Feel Like You're Failing As A Friend

by Joelle Wisler
Originally Published: 

I have a confession to make: I used to take my friendships completely for granted. When I was younger, my friends were just…there. I played sports with them and sat next to them in college classes and gossiped about boys with them. We spent every spare moment together, watching each other fall in and out of love and make good and bad decisions and struggle to create the lives that we were dreaming about. We were each other’s constant companions.

Well, dreams do come true. Now, I have a husband and children and work and apparently a deep, personal relationship with folding laundry. In order to maintain my friendships amidst the chaos, I have to try to coincide my nonexistent time with my friends’ nonexistent time. This often involves calendars and highlighters and weeks of planning. I have even stooped to pretending to exercise in the morning so my friends and I can hang out together. We sorta jog along, still talking about boys, but they’re our sons, and we are mostly just talking about how in the hell we can get them to use the toilet in a less disgusting way.

My friendships have also become more complicated in this phase of life. Life is bigger, it isn’t just cocktails and history finals and finding out what happens next on the Bachelorette (I mean it is still a little bit about that). But mostly, our lives are filled with scarier things like aging parents, impending teenagers, and the awful reality that we have to make dinner every single night.

And while my friends continue to be my sounding boards, my confidants, and my faith in humanity, I feel like I sometimes fail at being a good friend because my time is always being hijacked by something that inevitably needs wiping.

We ALL fail at being good friends sometimes because:

We miss calls when someone really needs us, because we are neck-deep in motherhood.

We don’t always say the right things when friends come to us for advice.

Sometimes, we talk too much when we should just listen, because we’re just so excited to speak real adult sentences.

We have forgotten birthdays.

We get so involved in our own worlds that we don’t make time for the big things going on in our friends’ worlds.

We get upset when we aren’t invited to things that maybe we wouldn’t have gone to anyway.

We have held grudges when it’s stupid.

We have created drama in our minds when it doesn’t actually exist.

We have drifted away.

We have even lost friends because we weren’t there for them in the way that they needed.

But we also have to remember how we DO succeed at being good friends:

We do listen. Often, much more than our partners do.

We keep those secrets.

We talk about the big stuff — kids, parents, Spanx.

We laugh, sometimes until our drinks fly out of our noses. We laugh because we know what each of us is really going through, Instagram filters off.

We tell each other we are beautiful. Women know how important this is to hear every once in awhile.

We notice things. Friends can recognize those subtle changes in body language and a new shirt.

We lift each other up. I always walk away from my true friendships feeling better about myself.

We can call each other when Google doesn’t have all of the answers. Sometimes, talking to someone who has experienced a kid with a high fever or a weird rash is the most comforting thing.

We make the time when there is no time.

And we forgive — because we love each other and know what a shitshow this time in our life can be.

I can’t wait until we are all 80 and have not one single fuck left to give. We will still talk about boys, I’m sure, but hopefully we will mostly drink whiskey and toast to ourselves that we did the best that we could.

Hear what our real-life Scary Mommies, Keri and Ashley, have to say about this when they give their (always real) thoughts in this episode of our Scary Mommy Speaks podcast.

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