What’s in a friend?

Friends are easy to make but hard to keep.  Everyone says that, right?  Or someone famous said it.  Or someone famous heard everyone saying it and then said it and now everyone thinks that someone famous said it .. or vice versa.  It doesn’t really matter.  Because it’s not necessarily true.  For some people friends are easy to make.  For some people friends are easy to keep.  For me, acquaintances are easy to make; nobody is easy to keep.

I don’t really know how to define friendship.  Is it a relationship with someone for whom I will always be available?  … or is it a relationship with someone who will always be there for me?  I think it’s supposed to be a fine balance between the two but how many times in your life can you actually achieve that?  If you’re lucky, you’ll have at least one person in your life who can balance you while you balance them right back.  It’s amazing when it works.  Truly.

As a s-a-h-mother it’s actually trickier than you might think.  You meet a lot of people in the school yard; on the school/parent council; at the playground; at gymnastics.  You laugh with them, you discuss your kids, your kid’s/kids’ teachers, even exchange a recipe or two.  Does that mean you’ll be friends?  No.  Your children are in the same class.  Your children have the same birthday.  Your children get kicked out of take swimming lessons together.  Friends?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Your children are best friends and want to see each other all day, every day.  Friends with those parents?  It could happen.  Quite often it does not.  Here’s the other side of the scenario:  you get along great with so-and-so’s mom.  You have lots in common, lots to talk about but not a lot of time to get together.  Let’s set up some playdates!!  Fabulous idea.  Except for the fact that your son likes playing army and blowing things up and my son likes building with Lego.  OR you have a daughter and my son doesn’t want to be a prince every. single. time.  Even better, your kid bites my kid and then storms off slamming her bedroom door because my son doesn’t want to be a prince.  Sigh.  Oh well, on to the next parent.

I know what you’re thinking.  Didn’t I have friends before I had a baby?  Some.  Don’t they have kids that could concievably be friends with BoyGenius?  Some.  But you know what?  Where did those friends come from?  Work.  School.  Hometown.  Let’s take a look at these groups and see what happens.

  • Work.  I have in past, made some good friends at work or through work.  I say good friends because they are people who have been through things with me and with whom I have shared good times and bad.  However, we met at work, an artificial community.  We all came in from various corners of the city or from outside of the city in which our office was located and worked together.  We had work in common.  We had hatred of work in common.  I no longer ‘work.’  Some of them do, some of them don’t.  Some have children, some don’t.  Most of them don’t live in my little corner outside of the city.  I am still in touch with many of them, thanks to e-mail, facebook and cell phones.  I still get together with some of them, we have wonderful dinners and evenings out.  It’s not the same as when you all go for a drink at the end of a hellish day.  It’s good, but it’s sporadic.
  • School.  I went to school.  I made some friends.  Post-secondary education is another artificial community.  You meet people from all over the world who happen to be studying the same thing as you or living in the same complex as you are.  You study, you party, you make friends, you go on trips, you take people home with you, etc., etc.  Once you’re done your education (or leave to go to another post-secondary institution … or none at all) you hope that the connections you have made with these people will last.  They might.  They might not.  Thanks to the aforementioned technologies, I am in touch with a number of people I met at university.  Not many.  Come on, you’ve only got four years or so in this particular artificial community.  Grade school and secondary school are another story.  For many of us, those communities are far more real simply because those are the communities we grow up in, those are the people we grow up with.  So I’ll leave my thoughts on those people to the “hometown” category.
  • Hometown.  Well.  As already mentioned, for many of us our hometown(s), our public/grade school, our highschool communities are our true communities.  That’s how it is/was for me.  I’m from a small town.  I went to school with the same classmates from Kindergarten to grade 13.  That’s a lot of years.  I consider those people to be my friends.  Good friends.  Close friends.  Lifetime friends.  I hardly see any of them.  They are all over the world.  They are still at home.  They work or they don’t.  We keep in touch or we don’t.  With many of them, it doesn’t matter.  I can get together with them and talk for hours about what we’ve all been doing, what our siblings are doing, who’s parents are still alive, remember that time in grade 8 geography?, whatever happened to..?, and isn’t it funny that you’re a grandparent already and my kid is only 7!  It’s really nice to get together with a group or with a couple of individuals.  Some of these people I have known for over 40 years.  As hard as that is to believe, it gives me a warm feeling inside whenever I think of it.  These are the people who knew me “when.”

So again, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking if I’ve got all these friends, how can I possibly be lonely?  I don’t know.  All I know is that the friends in those three categories are mainly not here.  The friends that are here, now, are those people in the schoolyard.  And while that community may be BoyGenius’ main community, it doesn’t seem to be mine.  When I walk through the yard, or to the park, or into the school I am greeted by at least 100 children who know me and 20+ parents/caregivers and almost all of the teachers and staff … (I feel like The King of Kensington) and my child is only in grade 2.  There are only a few I would actually call friends and perhaps two that I would call good friends.  There are only a few who are also s-a-h-parents.  We don’t always have time to get together.  The time that you do have, the time when your kids are in school, is the time that you’re supposed be doing laundry or vacuuming or getting groceries or painting the bathroom.  Once school is out, your “free time” is up because then it’s time for snack, homework, dinner and bed.

Friends are easy to make but hard to keep?  I think I’ve found that they’re hard to make but not quite as hard to keep.

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Categories: friendship | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “What’s in a friend?

  1. My husband wanted to live in a small town where neither of us have any connections. Most of the people I am friendly with moved in as adults, I seldom talk to people who have lived here all of their life. And who do they hang with? Their extended family members and friends from grade school. I decided to start talking to people and act like I have lived here forever because sooner or later, I will.

    • I feel you … in my small town, my hometown, most people stick with those people they grew up with. Mostly because not that many “new” people move in. Even though new houses are always being built .. hmmm …

      Where I am now, it’s a large town in terms of numbers, but small in terms of neighbourhoods; most of the people I know or talk to probably live within five minutes of the school. BoyGenius doesn’t play hockey or soccer so there aren’t any “out of neighbourhood” people that I interact with.

      I say you’re right, just fake it ’til you make it. They’ll get to know you, they’ll love you. 🙂

  2. The friends I am close to are from childhood and college. We have worked to stay close, but only see each other a couple of times a year.
    None of them live that close to me even though I have moved back to the town where I grew up. I find any friends I make now are based on my kids or being a couple, and it just doesn’t feel the same as a friendship of my own.
    I am glad I am close to my sister and mother, and they live close by.

    • Duffy, I know how you feel about those “new” friendships. I am closest to my friends from home and “work” .. we don’t see each other more than once or twice a year either, but it doesn’t seem to matter. That’s how I know they’re the right ones. We are in touch much more because of facebook and, because of facebook, we are actually able to make plans to get groups of us together.

  3. I have found friends are to make as well…although I have been told my ‘standards’ are too high. My husband says I take friendships too personally. Sometimes I feel attachments quickly but also am easily hurt so I often keep people at a distance till I trust them.
    Growing up, I moved every 2-3 yrs so I have few, if any, friends who knew me ‘when’. The ones I hold dear are those who knew me when my parents were alive- they knew me before…well just before.
    Very often I feel my husband is my only true friend.
    -on a positive note, I think your writing is beautiful and anyone you call friend should feel blessed.

    • Thank you.

      I had to laugh at the part where you mentioned that your husband says you take friendships too personally. How else should you take them??

      “The ones I hold dear are those who knew me when my parents were alive” That brought tears to my eyes. I know how you feel. I feel so blessed when I manage to keep in touch with friends who knew my brother, who knew me then as well.

      Thank you again.

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