I’m hiding out in my car during my lunch break at work. The employee room is full and I’m just not in the mood to look at dog memes with coworkers or talk about what I’m having for lunch. I’m worried about one of my boys because, after five years of elementary school with almost zero major incidents, in the last two weeks we’ve been to the principal’s office twice.
“I just feel like I’m failing him somehow,” I text my friend. “What am I doing wrong?!”
“Stop. I love you, call me right after work,” she replies.
I promise her I will. And then, I can’t help it. The tears start to come. Crying at work. Ugh. At least I’m in my car. My phone dings, it’s her again.
“Also, a man came to see me today regarding his enormously swollen scrotum and bent wiener… I practice cardiology.”
And there it is. I’m laughing. Like really laughing, even with my cheeks still hot from tears. This friend always manages to save me this way. There’s a very good chance there’s no man in the cardiology clinic complaining of a “bent wiener” you guys, and if there is, then I’m praying since she is my funny friend, I’ll be forgiven for the share… but that’s not the point. The point is this: My friend knows exactly what to say to take me from full-on crying — from feeling like the biggest, loser-y, self-pitying sad sack in the world — to cracking up in less than a minute.
This particular friend is the one who keeps you sane by reminding you of the funny bits of life when things get rough. This is the friend who can take your scariest life moment — when you’re most sad, most frustrated, most defeated — and by some miracle manage to make you laugh when you’re least expecting it. This friend is the one who reminds you that yes, the fact that your kid wrote “I like ‘em thick and juicy”on a post-it note at school is completely inappropriate, and yes, you definitely need to talk to him about that, but also… Sir Mix-a-Lot. Need she say more?
She’s the one I called from the hospital when my son decided to swallow a nail when he was three. He’d taken down a painting in his room and somehow gotten the nail out of the wall and into his mouth. There’s still a lot of mystery surrounding how or why he decided to eat it, but when he came down the stairs that night as I sat at the computer and proudly relayed the story, I didn’t believe him. I didn’t believe him until I saw the x-ray myself, the cartoon appearance of a nail smack dab in the middle of his ribs. After being rushed to the children’s hospital and spending twenty four hours under observation, the doctors told us we would have to wait for it to pass through his intestines, and to bring him in immediately if he exhibited signs of duress such as fever or vomiting, which could mean a puncture to the intestines.
“I’m really, really scared,” I told her.
“It’s going to be okay,” she reassured. “You’re just going to have a lot of poop on your hands…”
“Oh, SO much poop. Literal poop. On your hands,” she promised me, “but it will be okay.”
I laughed; she knows potty humor gets me every time. I exhaled, I believed her. She was right. A week later, after I’d investigated a multitude of BMs in a Ziploc bag, I cried uncle and let my husband take over. The treasure showed up the next day, on his first attempt, much to all of our relief (though I found it entirely unfair that my husband got to claim the victory on his first try).
This is the friend that you know is never going to judge your perceived “failings.” In fact, you want to share them with her because you know she’ll help you find the humor in it. You might send her a picture of the fancy dinner you accidentally burned up for your family. At first you’re not exactly pleased with the situation. You don’t own fabric napkins, but if you did, you were definitely going to use them for this meal. I mean you made lemon zest, which required actually purchasing a zester. You take a picture of the blackened bits of chick peas stuck to the pan. #dinnerfail, you text her.
“OMG,” she texts back.
And now you’re cracking up — like can’t breathe, kids-ask-you what’s-going-on cracking up over it, because you know someone else fully gets the tragicomedy of the situation. It totally stinks … but it’s also hilarious. Cereal for dinner suddenly doesn’t seem like the end of the world.
Sometimes it might just be the mom on Facebook you barely know who helps you find the funny, or an Instagrammer who leaves you nodding your head in agreement and double tapping every time she posts a #momfail that you can fully relate to. But if you’re really lucky, you have one in real life. She’s the one who supports you and loves you to the ends of earth, of course, but she’s also the one who can make you spit out your coffee in a public setting, and just a second after you’ve told yourself you were pretty sure you were never, ever, going to smile again. Ever. (You’re dramatic like that.)
She’s the one that reminds you that while life can be tough, it’s ALSO super freaking hilarious sometimes, and she’s there to make sure you never forget that.