This week I was looking back at a letter I wrote one of my sisters as she was headed off to college. In the letter I wrote, “girlfriends last a lot longer than boyfriends.” I read this wondering, what was it that I wanted to pass this along to her? And looking back I think I wrote that because I wanted her to learn the valuable lesson early on to cherish your friendships. My girlfriends have been such important mainstays in my life. From heartbreaks in young adulthood, to finding myself as a young career woman to supporting me as a mom, I have found tight bonds with women from different stages in my life that I lean on often, even years later.
The first friend that comes to mind was one of my first friends in high school. She has become like a sister to me, and now, our children play together . We seemingly have been through it all: college, boyfriends, heartaches, family loss, weddings, and babies. We have stood by each other’s side through every major life event. And I have grown to have a confidence in this friendship that is twenty years strong. Through the years I have learned that friendships grow and change, and the best ones withstand the test of time. She has taught me that a strong girlfriend can support you and empathize with you and in a way that you cannot get from family or spouses.
I have two friends from college that sadly I don’t see as often, but thank the Lord for text! For busy moms with little kids and jobs and homes, text updates are the answer to my prayers for staying in touch. We stay surprisingly up to date with one another – quick pictures of the kids, big news and even just small meanderings are frequent with these girls. Our distance does not affect the ability to brighten each others’ days or bring a moment of laughter to a tough situation – another talent that can sometimes only come from friends that know you well.
Then there are the friends I made in Chicago after college when I was working, dating and learning more about myself than at any other stage in my life. These were such special friendships, because when you are living on your own, away from home, your girlfriends really become your family. Even to this day, I find that some of these friendships are the ones that I can go months without contacting, but when we do find time to connect, it’s like nothing has changed. I think we all formed such respect for one another during this time, and that is never forgotten.
One of the most interesting and sometimes challenging forms of friendships is my most recent kind – mom friends. As a mom with little kids, I found myself looking for a new kind of friend. She couldn’t be in a different city. She couldn’t be unavailable. I needed friends close by with little kids that wanted to get together for playdates, swap stories and advice, commiserate about how hard this new job can be and celebrate when we find success with our little ones. It has taken me some time, but once again I have found women that are supportive and kind, that share my sense of humor for this role of parenthood, and who are ready to share a glass of wine when we all need a much deserved break.
Each of these women, regardless of how I know them or why we are friends, has complemented me in some way. And I have gained so much from them. I have realized that they are a vital life line because sometimes I cannot expect the support I am searching for from my family or my husband. As I continue to realize the role my girlfriends play in my life, and how much I need those relationships, I’m so grateful I learned their value early on and that I can pass it along to my sister now.