I am so grateful for the dozens of beautiful friendships I’ve had throughout the years.
I’m thankful for the friends of elementary school who played at bus stops and Girl Scout meetings with me; the ones who cheered my first loose tooth and the ones who gave me my first sleepovers and even my first friend fights; the ones whose parents came to my mom’s funeral in 4th grade and who became my “extra” moms in the years after that.
A huge reason I am the person I am today would be due to the friendships of middle school and high school -- the wrong friends, the fake friends, the come-and-go friends and the always-and-forever friends. These are the people who walked with me through puberty, boyfriends, the biggest triumphs and hardest let-downs of my adolescence. These are the people who got me out of my quiet shell and introduced me to risks (and some mistakes, haha!).
In college and my early 20s, my friendships were fewer but deeper. It became the people who watched me chase dreams and change dreams and pursue dreams. They watched as the accomplishments got bigger and even more special (new relationship! Graduation! First job! engagement!). They kept me on track to figuring out who I am and who I was meant to be.
But the friendships I have today are different than all of these other ones.
I would say there is a handful, a very small handful, of my true-blue, tribe, no-matter-what friendships. I’m blessed with so many important people in my life and I don’t take any of the people around me for granted. It’s just that the friendships I crave and need most right now are different than any other period in my life. I’m different and my day-to-day life is different and the amount of time and resources and heck, even energy, are all different, too.
My friendships today all bring something different to the table and all have a really clear reason for being in my life. I’ve got friends who I can not talk to for weeks at a time and then we pick right back up when we’re back together. I have friends who I only see over a screen for months at a time, but it feels like they’re right here in my living room sipping tea from my favorite mug. There are friends who know when I’m lying when I say, “I’m fine” and who then know what I need to hear. I’ve got friends who tell it like it is and friends who offer the sweetest kindnesses.
My friends of today understand where I’ve come from and where I want to go and they are the lifejackets when I fall off course. They scoop me up, cheer louder than anyone else and keep me laughing all the while. We share wine and funny GIFs and complaints about our kids or hubbies or careers. And then we can turn around and applaud when one of our kiddos makes us so proud or a new workout regime is working or we actually cooked a well-rounded meal. One of my friends can talk with me about grief in one minute and then we laugh about not having it all together the next.
My friends of today have known me for 30 years or 24 months and all know me just the same.
My friends of today -- (and their kids) -- love me -- (and my kids) -- with all of their hearts and an insane amount of pride. They are adopted aunts and cooler moms and they are not afraid to tell my kids “no” and to spoil them with a “yes.” They’re also not afraid to yell at me for holding Zach back or worrying too much about Addie. They babysit, they hold the best parties, they join us for impromptu playdates and they boost me with loving comments, real-life advice and the perfect questions. We have nicknames, we have inside jokes. We even have “cheesebags.”
And sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to be my best version of myself for them and it’s hard to let them see the struggles of real life. My friends have seen the crossing of lines, shattered glass, yelling and whining and a lot of wondering why. And I’ve seen some things on their side of the world that might have caused short-term embarrassment or guilt but brought us closer together and yep, stronger forever. There have been a lot of tears.
My friends of today get me and I get them.
It’s not to say that all of today’s friendships have people with lives that mirror mine exactly. Two of my best friends are reconnected cousins; a couple of my most important people aren’t even married and definitely don’t have children. Some have more kids than me or younger kids than me. Some live in Maryland and others in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Texas and beyond. I’d even include my 70-something-year-old godfather and my amazing Dad in the list of the people I need most right now.
My friends of today are the people who fill my soul and embrace my spirit and make me feel 100% me.
There are people I thought would still be on my list of daily messages. There are surprise connections that have reignited after moves and marriages and time apart. But I know these people are all here in my life for a reason.