Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Thought About Friendship (and Moms)

Last week I wrote a post about Best Friends. In it, I asked for stories from other people about what having good friends mean to them. When my extraordinary friend and writer, Shannon, said that she would put down some thoughts about this ever-important relationship in her life, I was thrilled. See her essay below and, if you’d like to read more about Shannon check out her blog.

As always, let's hear from you. I know ya'll must have a friend story you're dying to share!



by, Shannon Rigney

There are many qualities of my mother that I would like to emulate. She's funny as anything. She has good fashion sense. She makes a mean steak, and a great rice pilaf. I hope that one day my daughter looks forward to spending time with me as much as I do with my mom.

But, the quality of my mom's that I would most like to acquire is that she is a great friend. To see my mom with her closest friends is to watch a give-and-take of love, honesty, and humor. She treats her inner circle of friends like family. They're with each other forever. One way that my mom and her friends make sure that they stay glued so tightly is they carve out significant and regular time to be together. Mostly they have a glass of wine and some cheese, but they also cook together, go to movies, or just hang out. It doesn't matter what they are doing. They have a blast just because they are together. And all these shared moments and belly laughs do more than just pass the time in a happy way. All this love and time they devote to each other helps them weather difficulties.

Because there are bad times. My mom has been angry with her friends many times, and vice versa. But she never lets her feelings stew. She and her friends keep their connection real by telling each other straightaway when something gets under their skin. They practice a level of honesty that most people – myself included – aspire to but, like Zen mastery, probably won't achieve anytime soon.

I have lots to learn from my mother's attitude toward friendships – the way she holds them so dear, the way she prioritizes and makes time for them, and, mostly, the way she honors them with honesty. One thing that my mother had going for her when she was my age is that she lived in the suburbs amongst other women her age who had all made similar choices. They had all decided to have children and, mostly, stay home to raise them. My mom talks about many afternoons spent talking and laughing with her best friend while all of us kids ran around the yard.

Here in New York, I've got no yard, not a ton of free time, and no best friend with kids the same age as mine. In fact, few of the women whom I would call my best friends have any kids at all. And, of the women I know who do have children, most of us are working either part or full time. Scheduling even one afternoon together can be hard.

These minutes and hours with my friends are necessary to keep me balanced and happy. They remind me that I am more than a parent, more than a collection of work and dinner and bedtime rituals. They help me remember how to be light, how to be myself, how to laugh until I cry.

Those moments sustain me. Sometimes I feel like I am practically holding my breath until the next visit with a girlfriend supplies me with oxygen. I am trying to recreate with mere crumbs what my mom and her friends built with a full harvest. Time is the greatest commodity, the thing that most of us don't have (or at least don't have when we'd like to). And, yet, time is exactly what allowed my mom to build up the strong friendships that have carried her through the challenges of her life. For now, all I can do is do the best I can to spend time with the people who matter to me, the people who give me my air supply. And when I do have them with me, I'll enjoy every moment, breathing in enough to keep me going until the next time.

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