Hey, Mama, I bet you know this story.
Girl takes her kid to Story Hour. Kid strikes up a kinship with Other Kid at Story Hour. Kids end up in the same class, scouts, little league, and Girl becomes friends with Other Kid’s Mom. There are Christmas parties. There is coffee at the playground. All is wonderful. Girl and Other Kid’s Mom get to spend hours visiting while Kid and Other Kid play happily together nearby.
Then one day, out of the yonder, Kid says to Girl, “Mom, I don’t want to play with Other Kid anymore.” Girl thinks Kid is having an off day, and reschedules. But Kid isn’t having an off day. Kid and Other Kid have grown apart. Girl and Other Kid’s Mom can’t hang out anymore.
The reality of parenthood is that aside from a few lifelong friends left from our own childhoods, most of our friends tend to end up being the parents of our kids’ friends. We have similar interests (our kids), end up at all the best events together (The Spring Band Concert), and usually live close enough to each other to facilitate semi-regular hang outs (with kids in tow).
We build these friendships into our lives, hosting barbecues, trading babysitting, and even maybe vacationing together. It’s a beautiful arrangement. Everyone is getting to see their friends, everyone is happy.
Then the kids do something unthinkable.
They start to grow up. And they start to grow apart.
As parents we know this is entirely natural, but we don’t quite know how to deal with it. Should we force our kids to hang out? Avoid each other? Let our own friendships flag in effort to keep the kids happy?
I say we have to face the reality head on, so I‘m here to speak some truth today.
My kid might not always love your kid. Your kid might not be good at sharing toys. My kid might be insufferably pompous. Or maybe, and this is more likely, they’re both really cool people, who just don’t happen to be compatible.
Maybe at some point they will grow back together, or maybe they won‘t.
But you and I? We are both already who we are going to be. We actually like each other. We have shared birth stories, and commiserated over poop. You don’t just walk away from something like that.
I need you, Friend, and not just as a back-up babysitter. I need to know we are going to make it through this.
So let’s make up our minds not to have our feelings hurt when our kids don’t want to be friends any more.
Let’s make some plans to hang out that don’t involve our kids.
Let’s organize a Girl’s Night, where we both order pizza, cue up a ‘toon on Netflix, and leave Dad in charge for a few hours.
We can meet for dessert and wine, or take a painting class together.
We can form a book club, and maybe even read the books.
We can hit up Ladies Night at the local gun range.
This is going to be great! We don’t have to make everything we do kid-friendly anymore, because we’ve moved past pretending our kids are the great friends and we have to be here to facilitate that.
This is about us, Friend!
So clear a Saturday night on your calendar, because I’m about to give you a call, and we’re going to hang out. We’re going to eat snacks we don’t have to share, or check for allergens. We’re going to complain about the laundry and rejoice about the baby sleeping through the night. We are going laugh so hard we nearly pee our pants. We may even let out a stray curse word. Just us girls. (And a variety of fine wines in the five to seven dollar range. )
Because what we have is too important to lose, Friend.
You are my tribe.