My mom friend is moving away.
I remember when I was nine, and I was the one who was moving away. I was hanging from the monkey bars with my friend Heather, who had yellow hair and lived one street over. I remember knowing it was the last time we’d play at my house, or ever. I had a vague sense of loss, but only in that dull way that children have of not fully realizing.
Losing my mom friend reminds me of that time, for some reason, but with a much sharper sense of loss.
When I was pregnant with Emmie, there were other people I knew who were also expecting, but no one really close. One of them was my friend’s sister. Her little girl and Emmie sometimes play together, and really like each other. But that mom lives 40 minutes away and is very busy working hard and raising her kids, as am I. We don’t see each other as often as I’d like.
My dear friend, the sister, is also a mom. Her daughter is in middle school. We love their whole family. I’ve been friends with the dad since middle school, which is crazy to think his daughter’s almost the age we were when we met! But again, we don’t see them as often as we’d like, with family obligations and everything else that fills up our schedules. I have other great mom friends who live elsewhere, with whom I text or visit occasionally.
One of my best friends is a mom of a sweet little 2-year-old boy, but she lives across the country. We text and talk every week, and I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s as close as I have to a sister.
My two closest friends live in Chicago and don’t have kids. They are the friends I can be my easy self with, who know me inside and out, who make me happy when I even just think about being with them. With the two kids, however, it’s harder to see them. And their day-to-day lives are so different from mine now.
I’ve only been friends with this mom friend for a handful of years. We didn’t go to the same high school, or college, or live in Chicago together like I did with my other friends. She worked with Bruce, and then bought a house in the same town as us. At first she and her husband didn’t have kids, and we’d hang out as two couples in the basement after Emmie was in bed. But then she got pregnant with twins, and I got pregnant with Hannah.
The thing is, she was here.
There’s something about knowing a friend is close by, one whom you could feasibly get to in a short car ride. I would send her a text saying, “Hey, it’s gorgeous outside! Want to take a walk?”
|Taking a stroll|
And she’d reply, “Yeah, meet you at the playground in a few!” Or, “I can’t, the twins are craaazy!” Even when our plans fell through, I would know she was near, going through the same kind of chaos as me.
When we did get together, our conversations were constantly interrupted by crying babies, or curious Emmie asking questions about everything she saw, or diaper changes or potty breaks. But in between we’d get to ask, “How are you?” And the other person would listen, really listen, and understand. We could see the tears in each other’s eyes, or the pride at a new baby achievement. We’d hug each other. We’d hold each other’s children. I thought our kids would grow up together.
I’ve tried to make friends with some of the moms of Emmie’s classmates. I’ve been on plenty of playdates where I’ve made small talk and smiled. I thought one mom would be a match; she had lived abroad like me, was a teacher, and used to work at the house museum where I now work. But when we had a playdate, she chatted away incessantly, always turning the conversation back to her. It was like I wasn’t even there. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, thought maybe it was a nervous tick, but after a couple times I realized that is just how she is. Plus, she kept doing that thing like whatever she does as a parent is the best way, the only way. That drives me nuts. It seems like motherhood often has this underlying sense of competition and judgement. That’s just not something I want to be a part of.
I’m going to miss my mom friend. There’s a plethora of reasons why they’re moving. They’ve been trying to raise kids with no help or family nearby, on one income in a state with notoriously high property taxes. Bruce and I have both our incomes, with family that offers a little assistance, and it still feels like an uphill battle. It makes sense for our friends to move to be nearer to family in another state with a lower cost of living. (Don’t get me started on how the appalling lack of parental support in this country can be attributed to many families’ struggles, including theirs.)
My friend moving leaves me feeling more alone out here. I’ve never been a real girl’s girl, not one to join a sorority in college or those mom’s groups they have nowadays. My group of friends has been assembled one at a time over dozens of years, organically. I feel apprehensive at the thought of putting myself out there – trying to find a new local friend at this stage of the game.
But I’d really like to find one.
If you’ve got a good friend nearby, give a call or send a text. Make plans to see each other soon – just because you can.