When you are in school, from the minute you step off that big yellow bus in kindergarten to when you roam those high school halls a seasoned senior to those undergraduate days traversing your college campus, there were always your people. There was your best friend in third grade there to trade you her Hostess cupcake for your three Oreo cookies at lunchtime. There was your friend in sophomore geometry class kicking your chair to pass you that emergent note that couldn’t wait until after class: Meet outside the cafeteria after 5th period? There was your physics lab partner who you hysterically laughed with after she snapped yet another rubber band while trying to create that impossible suspension bridge in Thursday afternoon lab. There was even your roommate in your early 20’s, who never judged you when you ate yet another can of Spaghetti-O’s for dinner, because, well, she was eating the last bowl of Cup O’ Noodle soup.
And then you finish school, you find a job, you find yourself in the midst of adulthood, not yet feeling adult, and maybe you get married, and maybe you have kids. And then, all of a sudden, when you were least anticipating it, your people have changed. Your people are now crying, irrational, small little beings that need your constant attention, your constant assistance. You thought you knew mood swings, but wow, your two-year-old’s sudden change of attitude when he realizes the cup you gave him was purple, purple. The world-caving-in tantrum that ensues . . . You’ve never had this happen with any of your people in the twenty to thirty years of having people. The other of your people decides she will no longer sleep through the night. Because, after trying it out for the last 6 months of her life, she would prefer to regress to how life was in that first year of life, because, why not? And so now, you and your people are a hot mess. You and your daughter are sleep-deprived, and your son, well. HE GOT A PURPLE CUP for lunch. There is no coming back from here. You quickly do a sweep of the room. Is there anyone else here? Will anyone be casually walking through between classes or to catch up with you after lunch? No. It’s just you. In your house. With your people. Not until dinner time will another familiar, reasoning face walk in the door. So there you are. Hiding in the pantry, sneaking those Oreos with no one to trade them with, just to get a minute alone without your people.
And we wonder why we feel lonely.
Our days are packed. Packed with commitments, whether it be work outside the home, work inside the home, taking care of our families, embracing all the responsibilities of adulthood. But one thing that we need so very much is now missing. And that is the presence of friends and your people that related to your life on a daily basis. Wasn’t that calculus test ridiculous? I’m pretty sure I made up the answer to every question! Were you as bored as I was through that guest speaker’s presentation? Can you believe what that guy said in class?
All of a sudden, you are not spending most of your days with people that are in your same boat. Instead, you are spending your days with little people trying to sink the boat you are emphatically paddling to keep afloat. This boat you are desperately trying to keep moving forward, and tidy, and with regulated screen-time. It is a tough boat to be on, and without all the people that used to row alongside you, its not only tough, but also lonely.
I have always valued my friendships, but I was never aware of the value of mom friends at this season in my life. This season when you can feel so alone in your struggles to just make life run in a semi-smooth fashion. So many days, I feel like I am tackling these battles myself. Facebook and parenthood memes tell me I am not, but it is hard to remember when you are in the midst of an emergency bath time evacuation of your three children after realizing your youngest has proudly demonstrated her ability to be potty trained and produced her #2 while sitting in a haven of bubble gum scented bubbles. “Mama, poo poo bath!” She exclaims. Wow. What I would have given to have someone with me at that moment to tackle the logistics of how to . . . or at least to laugh with at in that moment of hysterics . . .
Do you ever catch yourself screening people you meet, wondering if they could be your friend? Your person? Wow, you have three kids? Ages 6 and under? Hmmm . . . where do you live? Not to be too forward, but could you be my best mom friend, please?? I want to blurt. Instead, I nod, and smile, and finish our small talk in the bread aisle at the grocery, and move on, because I have exactly 20 minutes until I have to leave and pick up the kids. But I do wish . . . I wish you could be my friend, and maybe make me feel less lonely, be my buddy to commiserate in the hilarity, the exhaustion, the constant juggling of this season of adulthood.
I guess what I have to say, is that friends are hard to come by in this season of our lives. For those of you who have found your mom friends, your people that aren’t walking runny-nosed, spirited beings with sticky fingers, I know you are thankful and I am happy for you. And so envious. For those of you like me, that still chat a little bit longer than is comfortable with that person you meet in the store, you are not alone. We are not alone in feeling lonely. It’s okay, and we will keep our separate boats afloat until we find each other.