Becoming a mom has been something I’ve wanted to do for most of my life. Truly, as far back as I can remember, I always thought I’d have a kid or two (or, on my wilder days, five).
So when it happened, I was ready to be all in and parent the heck out of my kid. And I basically have. Parenting has been and continues to be where I find my greatest feelings of happiness. I don’t mean that I’m not also happy when I’m not actively (or passively) parenting; I just mean that I get so much joy from being with my kid. Having said that … I also love to have time without my kid around. Sometimes that’s time with my husband, with my friends, or just by myself.
It’s all crucial to maintaining my sense of who I am and who I want to be. As much as I love being a mom, I can’t imagine a world in which that is my sole identity and source of good feelings.
I learned pretty early in my parenthood journey that it was important to me to make sure I continue to see my friends and hang out with them, both with and without kids. Not all of my friends are parents, but all of my friends are people whom I love.
The idea of getting everything I need in this life from one person is beyond what I could cope with, and putting all that pressure on a child would be ridiculous. Not to mention that there’s no way a child (or even a husband) could fill in all the wonderful pieces that my friends bring to my life.
I have two really close friends whom I speak to every day. One is female, and much to the surprise of so many people I know, one is male. I’ve known both of these friends since high school, so well over 17 years at this point. My favorite thing about both of them is that we are at a point where we can speak about anything and everything, and we often do.
I’ve found that if all else fails, speaking to one or both of my very close friends is enough to lift me out of any kind of funk or depression I might be in — even if we don’t talk about the details of what’s going on. When I think about the years and years of conversations I’ve had with both of these friends, it blows my mind, and it’s really hard to imagine my life without them. They are crucial to my support system, as a wife, mother, and human.
In addition to these two friends, I have a bunch of friends who are spread out all over the United States. We have lived in a few different states, and I have been really fortunate to meet friends in each new state and to keep those friendships going after we’ve left.
The internet has helped tremendously in this respect. While I love the idea of writing snail mail letters, I don’t think I could do that with the 20 or so people whom I love chatting with. So it’s been great to be able to shoot over a message on Facebook or share a post directly on Instagram that turns into 15 or 20 minutes of chatting back and forth before one of us stops. I feel a bond with those friends that’s definitely stronger than it would be otherwise.
I also have some dear friends whom I’ve made in the city where we currently live. I have met most of these friends through my son’s classes and activities, but since he homeschools and we are secular, all the friends I’ve met already have a major shared interest with me (homeschooling without religion), so we were already bound to get along.
One of my favorite things that this group of friends has done is institute regular trivia nights that we all try to attend. It gets hard sometimes, between holidays and kids getting sick, but you can usually count on at least three or four people to show up. We don’t always know the answers, but we always, always have a great time.
I am really very grateful for all of the friendships I have, and especially grateful that my friends all hail from diverse and differing backgrounds. It definitely makes for lively, fun conversation when we get together, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group.
I also love that somehow, all of my friends get along with each other, even if they don’t know one another in real life. It’s really fun to see that two people I love are bonding over Instagram or to find out that a friend I know in Spain and a friend I know in Washington are suddenly internet BFFs.
Having friendships outside of my family has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my adult journey so far. I definitely, definitely believe it’s crucial to be able to be the best version of myself.