Jill Robbins is a wife and mother living in sunny San Antonio. She writes about post adoption life and random mom topics at Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. She enjoys running, dry wine and dry humor, and Lily Pulitzer (because it hides all the crap her kids spill and her imperfect abs). She loves sarcasm, and although she’s aware of the 18 year age gap between her oldest and middle children, she really loves it when people point that out. Her writing has been featured on Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, and Mamalode. You can follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter.
I’m an introvert and I’ve always kept my social circles small. Since I’ve always gone for quality over quantity, the friendships I do establish mean a lot to me. Some friendships endure, some don’t. It’s always a little painful when they don’t.
I’m a job-imposed nomad. I haven’t lived in one city for more than 5 years in the past two decades. Moving around and enduring relationships don’t exactly go hand in hand. I’ve “started over” in the friendship-building department lots of times. That’s hard for me because I’m slow to really warm to people.
Finding good gal pals is totally like dating. Having stuff in common isn’t enough. There has to be chemistry, that “it factor” you can’t really put your finger on. You’ll wonder stuff like “Does she like me? Do I seem too eager?” Just like meeting a new guy except you’re not obsessively shaving your legs or making sure you’re wearing your good underwear. Anyhoo.
Friendships go through seasons of change as the people in them change. Friendships fizzle out. People drift away, and sometimes, they can leave your life abruptly and purposefully, and that’s always been hard for me to accept.
Friendships shift as life changes happen. When I became a mom at age 25, my friendships with non-moms deteriorated. Not intentionally. There was no “I can’t hang with you because I have a kid now,” Just the opposite, I made a huge effort not to blow off my childfree besties…but that’s what ended up happening. Organically, I started gravitating toward other moms and the girls who partied till three AM and snoozed till noon gradually slipped from my life.
Fast forward twenty years. Hubs and I were “empty nesters” for a little while (we adopted two boys from China two years after our daughter moved out). We slept late, went on last-minute trips and all sorts of free and easy stuff that seems like such a dim memory in my sleep-deprived head.
During our daughter’s high school years and beyond, we formed friendships with other couples who were either childless or had older kids. People like us. People who could drink wine until two AM who lived in houses full of expensive bric-a-brac that screamed “break me, kid!”
When our pint-sized bundle of “I don’t sleep for more than two hours at a time unless it’s on top of you” arrived…well, that shook things up as you can imagine. Any mention of a child-free night out brought on babysitter logistics that read like an NFL playbook. My conversation topics revolved around poop, snot, Disney characters and not much else. Our fun friends shifted to the fringes of our life.
I’m gonna go all metaphorical-like (you were warned, k?) Friendship is like a tree. Sometimes leaves fall off and quietly blow away. You might not even notice.
Sometimes branches break and you do notice. Sometimes a storm snaps them suddenly. Sometimes they crack from weakness or holding the weight of something that’s become too heavy over time. Broken branches leave sharp edges that take time to mend. And sometimes, we have to intentionally prune that tree.
I’ve just come through a season of pruning. I’ve been removed from a few trees and I’ve done some clipping of my own. I am at the place in my life where I have a pretty good idea of who I am and what matters to me. I look back on some of the friendships I’ve had that I don’t have now, or that aren’t as significant as they once were. I feel loss, relief, and lots of things in between the two.
I’m taking a deep breath and moving forward in the next chapter of my life. I think the best is still mine to experience.