Real Mom Monday: Making Friends in Your 30's
This past weekend I traveled to Chicago for a BURU Pop-Up Shop with The Land of Nod. The week leading to it had been a crazy work week for me and for Brett who had also traveled for work and only arrived home a few hours before my red eye was set to leave. We decided to keep things simple for Olive, so my two loves stayed home in SLC while I worked the weekend shift in Chi-Town.
When I realized that I would be going solo, I reached out to some dear friends to see if they might want to meet me in the windy city for a short getaway. Lucky for me—they did!
After a full day of travel and an evening shopping event at Nod (thanks to all the amazing mamas who came to celebrate with us!) I met up with my girls at their hotel for a late dinner and a night cap. Within minutes of arriving and after the "I missed you" greetings, hugs and kisses, I began to talk and talk and talk. I was talking so much that it actually took a minute for my brain to catch up and realize that my mouth was operating like an Energizer bunny. It just wouldn't stop!
When it hit me that I was being a conversation stealing jibber jabber, I immediately apologized. But then—I am pretty sure I just started talking all over again. I finally just stopped myself, looked at my girls and said, "Well...I think it's clear that I am starved for lady talk since the big move." They of course laughed and with kindness in their eyes, gave me complete permission to keep the stream of nonsense flowing from my lips. That's what old friends are for, right?
My behavior really got me thinking about my current phase of life and the lack of "girlfriend time" that I have—the lack that most of us have as moms. Between marriage, children, extended family, work and every other commitment (charity, church, etc) there is rarely time to sit down with girlfriends and talk, laugh, cry or whatever.
I now live in a city in which I knew not one person before moving here outside of my husband and baby girl. This is not a new thing for me though. I went to college without girlfriends (made them overnight), post college I moved to Austin sans girlfriends (it came easy too), and then later in life I moved to Beijing where I clearly didn't know anyone other than Brett (my Asian #squad is amazing).
Somehow this move feels so different. Though I am meeting incredible women on a weekly basis, there just doesn't seem to be time to cultivate these relationships. I can't find a way to move the needle from "surface" talk to the down and dirty of what makes being a woman and a mama in our mid-thirties challenging, wonderful, stressful, lovely and basically—a big tug of war everyday.
In my tunnel vision focus of finding the right school for Olive, renovating our house to make it a home, squeezing in date nights to keep the flame alive, and of course running BURU—is it possible that I have forgotten how to make friends? I think the answer might be yes.
I fear that I am blaming a shortage of time and energy on what may actually be a legit shortcoming. After 30 minutes with a new "potential" friend, I find myself incredibly anxious about what is and what is not acceptable to talk about. Then either one of two things happen—I clam up and want to scram OR I take the conversation to a level that the "new friendship" is not ready for. I tell a dirty joke that goes south or I bring up my anti-gun thoughts to an NRA member. You know...things like that.
Perhaps this phase of life is meant to focus on other things. Perhaps, I should just count my blessings for the old friends I still have—though far away at the moment. Perhaps I should accept that the new relationships I am making, though wonderful and delightful, may not be as intimate as I am used to.
The truth is that I am not a crazy "girls night out" kind of girl anyway. I am just not a small talk kind of girl either. I crave the type of friend that really gets me—the good, the bad, the ugly. Is it possible that I have reached the part of life where true friendships are "kept", not made? How do you fill someone in on the past 35 years in a string of 30 minute coffee sessions once a month? It really feels sort of hopeless.
I know that 35 is not old, but so much has happened in my life. I think I feel too tired at times to start from the beginning,and I feel that friendships, like marriages—need a little history to make a solid future. But that's not the only challenge. Social media is not doing us any favors. How are you supposed to get through a "get to know you phase" when you meet someone you have followed on Instagram for 2 years. Are you supposed to act surprised when they tell you about their family vacation or their child's birthday last year? And if someone has been following you, how do you get past the perception? How do you show them that you are real?
In the mix of all the parenting books, all the tips, all the tricks—I think what we might need is a "how to" on making new, sincere friendships in our 30's.
Any thoughts, mama? Please tell me I am not alone in this.
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