Monday, February 2, 2015

What is a friend?

That is a tough question.  I have lots of "friends".  People I have known all over the world, who I have stayed in touch with.   People I would love to see and talk to and visit with again in my life.

My sister is my best friend.  I guess.  I mean, she's my sister and we are very close.  I know that we are friends.  But a sibling bond, at least the ones I have known are on a different plane than non-related friends.  We are friends on a cellular level.  It is part of our whole life and experience and being.  With siblings you share parents and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents.  Not all siblings are friends.  I am not saying that.  I am saying that, when siblings are friends, like my sister and I, there is a deep bond that is deep in ways that other friendships cannot be.

As I said, I have tons of friends.  I correspond and keep in touch. These days, mostly once a year- through Christmas cards.  Before the internet and emails and such, I wrote letters.  By hand.  In my own handwriting.  And, my friends wrote back to me.  I have boxes and boxes of letters from friends and family from when we were living overseas.  Many of these people, I met through La Leche League, or through play groups with the kids, or through the kids' schools.

I think my longest and deepest friendships are the ones I have made in La Leche League.  (besides my sister & my husband).  We met through mutual interest and cause or care about breastfeeding and parenting.   Even if we do not share the same religion or political party, we parent the same, we are about attachment parenting, natural weaning.  the family bed - most of us.   And, as our children have grown up, we are going through many of the same stages together again.  menopause.  Health problems.  Instead of being exhausted by cleaning up toys and doing laundry and wiping buts and noses, we are tired out with caring so deeply about our children.  We are learning new things about parenting. We have adult children- an oxymoron unless you are the parent of one!

I had lunch today with one of my dearest friends in the world .  We met almost 30 years ago.  Her first baby was just a few months old.  I had a 2 year old and was pregnant with my fourth baby, who is now 27.

In those early years, we were either together doing things, or talking on the phone about everything and nothing.  I think we were lifelines for each other.

I remember this friend being at my house helping me fold laundry while the kids played.  Stopping for nursing breaks and snack breaks.   We went to conferences together- with our babies.  We went to the park and the pool.  Often, if she wasn't at my house, I was at hers.

And so, years have passed, as they do.  A couple of my kids are married, and living too far away to just drop in.  The others are working on being or becoming independent.  They are all adults.

Her kids are grown up, and  independent adults too.

Nick and the kids and I lived overseas, separating my friend and I, and our families.  But that bond has always remained and, I think, remained strong.

And so, today, we sat down to talk and eat.  We didn't have to look for a high chair or chase down and catch a toddler.  We didn't have to break up fights or negotiate who would get the blue crayon and who would get the red one.

And we talked.  About our children.  Our lives.  Our hopes and plans and maybe dreams.  And we realized something that I suspect we knew all along but couldn't imagine in our diapering days.  We both still think about and worry about our children.  A lot.

When they are little, there are days when you cannot wait for them to grow up.  To become independent.  To leave you alone!  To be able to go to the bathroom alone was just a fantasy then .  Now, we don't have to distract the kids by tossing miniature marshmallows to them so we can finish a phone call without too much screaming and chaos in the background.

We have, in our own ways, become our mothers.  If not in lifestyle, in commitment to our grown babies.   We carried  them  in our wombs and in our arms.  Now and forever,  we will carry them in our hearts. 

Lest you think I have forgotten my husband, I have not.  Without him these children would not exist.   I would not have seen the world in the ways I have.  And, he has shared in my life for longer than the kids.  We are a unit.  Two separate people, made into a unit that makes into one. 

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