The Gift of Friendship

Of all the gifts my sons have given me, I like my friends the best.

I had friends before my sons were born. I think. Yes, I definitely did. I am still hanging on to a few of them. I value those forever relationships. Those friendships of my choosing. Selected because we had the same sense of humor or interests or simply because we had grown up in the same way. The friendships that stick do so because of that history we share. I love that.

And then there are these gifted friends. The ones my sons gave to me. My mom-friends are like book club books. I had no intention of reading them, but I wanted to go to the meeting, so I took a chance. And like those book club books, the chance has always been worthwhile.

I met my first mom-friend on the sidewalk. After 100 or so laps around the block, I saw another stroller coming toward me. Casually and surreptitiously, I maneuvered my carriage directly into the path of the approaching stroller. “Hi,” I grinned. Too broadly. Too eagerly. Too lonely.

A tiny girl with big brown eyes unclipped herself from that stroller, toddled out, and patted my baby on the head. I smiled at her mom. She smiled back. My sweatpants and unbrushed hair were no match for her stylish jeans and long blonde pony tail. Without our babies, we never would have met. We never would have talked. She never would have invited me to her house on that very same day. And invited me back. And to the beach. And to her book club. She never would have saved me from my endless laps around the block. From those early lonely days of new-momhood.

And she was only the first. There were more.

Another mom-friend was procured on the way into Gymboree. I was walking in and she was walking out. Our eyes met briefly. “Do you want to join my playgroup?,” she asked. “Yes,” I replied, to a complete stranger, “I do.” And together we discovered that our kids both feared Santa and loved the Easter Bunny. We discussed pre-school choices and teething rituals. We laughed at each other. And with each other. She carefully removed skin from grapes before feeding them to her daughter. And to my son.

Because she moved when the kids were little, we lost touch. Almost. Sometimes, I see her grown-up daughter on Facebook. So pretty, so happy, so mature. But when I look at her, I mostly see her toothless grin. Drool on the carpet. Her mom peeling grapes.

As each of my boys was born, I collected another group of friends.

The Oldest Boy Moms:

These are the ones I worry with. Curriculum. College. Alcohol. Loose Women. We’ve discussed many dilemmas. Many times. All of our oldests experience firsts at just about the same time. As do we. We are a group of mom-firsts. It is a messy place to be. It is nice to have friends, down there with you in the mess.

The Moms of the Middle:

They are all younger than me. When my oldest boy played basketball, his friends’ moms and I would sit and watch. And critique and worry. These moms, these moms of the middle, sit in a restaurant. And laugh. And worry. But laugh, too. They are a big group. Because my second boy has a big group of buddies. I think we mirror my son’s friend group. Except we’re louder. And not as good with secrets.

Last But Not Least:

And, well, their numbers are small. When you get around to that last boy, you are tired. And a little friended-out. But I am so happy I have these friends. With them, I realize how much I’ve learned. And how much I can still learn. And in the end, their kids will be just fine. As will my last boy. If I can figure out how to keep him away from Instagram. And girls.

Some day, my boys will move on. To things more exciting than me. And then, there will be less to discuss. Less to manage. Less day-to-day boy talk. When they take what they’ve learned and head out the door, I hope they leave my mom-friends. So together we can remember. And laugh. And cry.

Because I am simply not interested in strapping the dog in a stroller to head out and look for more.

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