Guest Post

  • Ping!: How Social Media Saved My Friendship

    We’re so delighted to include a friendship essay from Allison of Go Dansker Mom.  She writes about why friendships can actually flourish with the help of social media.  When new mothers have little time to sustain old and new friendships, social media can help us keep connections with those we care about.  Have you ever had a friendship thrive or reignite online?

    Here’s Allison:

    I don’t keep friends well. 

    I am a stubborn, loyal Scorpio who hates loss and distance but I’m also not the type of person who keeps a close-knit group of friends for life. (I never was in a sorority for a reason.). 

    I am not sure why I have this flaw.  Maybe it is because I was a military brat through elementary school; maybe it is because I went to three different high schools and three different colleges; maybe it is because I really, truly love meeting new people and get excited to hear new stories; maybe it is my sense of adventure that causes me to move on too fast; maybe it is because I hate feeling like a friend is clinging to me or too needy. (I’ll just let you down, I am sure.).  Whatever the reason (to be discovered only by means of a psychologist’s couch, I am sure), I never wore half of a BFF heart necklace.

    I get caught up in this fact sometimes, and it brings out the ugly in me: jealousy, a little depression, and a lot of self-doubt.  Why don’t I have a group of five friends I sit around a coffee shop with all the time, or a gang of four friends I always meet at a small bar in NYC?

    Yet inevitably when I start to get this way I immediately get a “PING” and a GChat message from the one person who can rescue me from the dark thoughts: Kathy.

    Kathy and I met in elementary school.  In middle school, my parents had me follow my brother and moved me to a local Catholic school to finish out 7th and 8th grade.  In 9th grade I moved back in to the public high school system and I remember reconnecting with Kathy.  We shared the same wild and crazy English teacher.

    When I moved to a different state in 10th grade, Kathy and I kept in touch.  We WROTE LETTERS.  Gasp.  We wrote long letters, sent pictures, sent cards… I have a terrible memory and honestly don’t remember much — that’s why I blog now, it helps me remember — so honestly couldn’t say if Kathy and I were soul sisters when we lived a few miles apart.  But I do know that over the course of a pen pal relationship I confided in her things I didn’t tell others.  Something about the distance of paper, knowing that the words could not provoke an immediate reaction I might not want to see, made me feel safe.  And Lord knows, in the teenage times everyone needs a place to feel safe.

    Over the years she grew to know more about me than any one.  When the digital age made it even easier to connect (remember AOL IM?) we realized that we had even more in common: celebrity snark, online shopping, and career aspirations.

    Then we both had kids.  We had babies relatively close in age to each other.  Before pregnancy both of us confided in each other our fears, hopes, concerns, and worries.  Would pregnancy change us?  What about losing control of our bodies?  The Fashion – Lord, the fashion!  Were our husbands ready for this? 

    But we both jumped, holding each other’s hands in a virtual way.

    Then at the next fork in the road we went in drastically different directions: I decided to stay at home, she decided to stay at work.  I have seen this be divisive in many friendships, creating considerable coolness between once close friends.  After all, working moms and stay at home moms have different concerns, issues, and problems facing them.  Not one is more difficult than the other, they are just so, well, different.

    kd photob&wYet Kathy and I have made it.  Sure, we tend to talk past each other a little at times – me frazzled and just wanting to take a shower, her frustrated that she doesn’t get more support trying to do it all – but we are there for each other all the way.

    I wish I could share our tips with all the mothers out there: how to keep a friendship alive through the very different choices of motherhood.  But I don’t know why we work.  I think it has to do with our deep history.  I think it has to do with our personalities. (We have an ongoing joke that I am like her husband and she is like mine so we clearly know how to handle each other).  I also think it has to do with the fact that we have never been the sort of friends that get together all the time, vacation together, or talk on the phone.  Our friendship grew out of written forms of communication and those forms keep it alive today.  Accordingly, the fact that neither of us has time to talk on the phone at night changes nothing at all.  It isn’t a missed ritual because it was never an expectation to begin with.

    Some day Kathy and I are going to girls’ trip; we always have fun when we are together.  Her humorous sarcasm, honesty, and ability to put down a good margarita make me love her company all the time.  But we know how to maintain our friendship until all the pregnancies, baby birthing, breast feeding, and toddler-demands are finished.  Then it’s Chicago Or Bust.  I do know that until then I will always be hooked in to my social media platforms, waiting for that daily “PING.”

    Allison Carter 11-2012edit

    Allison is a freelance writer who maintains numerous website but talks most freely at Go Dansker Mom (godanskermom.com).  She is a SAHM living the good life amongst all boys and loves to share the laughter, struggles, and love.

     

     

    If you haven’t taken our HerStories new motherhood survey, we’d appreciate it so much you’d take a few minutes to take it now. And share it with your friends!  Also, if you have your own story of friendship or new motherhood, we’d love to hear from you!  E-mail them to us at herstoriesfriendshiptales at gmail. 

  • The Case For A Friendship Break

    We are so excited to have writer and blogger Nina Badzin with us on HerStories today.  I first became acquainted with Nina’s writing when I was desperately trying as a new blogger to make sense of Twitter.  Within 15 minutes of reading about how to use Twitter with Nina’s guidance, social media etiquette started to make more sense.  Then I started reading some of her parenting articles and essays, such as her Huffington Post piece  that was part of the This Is Childhood series.  Soon I was in awe of her literary skills and reached out to her on Twitter, and I quickly learned that Nina is as generous in spirit and time to her writing peers, as she is in her essays.

    -Jessica

     

    We’re delighted to learn more about the potential value of “friendship breaks” from Nina:

     

    The Case For A Friendship Break
    by Nina Badzin

    Some former friends (okay, most former ones) are best left in the past. But sometimes an old friend can haunt you.  She’s the friend that got away. She’s the one that’s worth getting back.

    I met Becky in August 1995 on the day we moved a few rooms apart in the same freshman dorm. I can still envision her standing at my door introducing herself. “I was born in Highland Park!” she said, referring to the cutesy door signs our resident advisors made about our hometowns.

    Speaking more quickly than I did, which I had never thought possible, Becky explained that her parents moved her family from Highland Park (in Chicago) to Maryland. We marveled at the idea that we could have grown up together. That plus our instant chemistry lent a certain inevitability to our bond.

    We claimed each other in that unspoken way that girls (and women) do when they become close quickly. We went to every party together. Ate every meal together. Obsessed about boyfriends together. We were each other’s home base in those first months, then years, away from home.

    Our rift didn’t happen with a fight over a guy or something easy to name. An “incident” to reference would have been a comfort. No, instead our growing apart felt like a deep judgement on the people we were each trying to become.

    It began slowly while Becky was abroad for a semester in Jerusalem and I was in Santiago. We came back for our senior year in different mindsets. I decided not to take the LSAT. I dropped my senior thesis (that I had spent eight months researching in Santiago). Within the first few months of our senior year, I met Bryan, whom I would end up marrying exactly two years later so you can imagine that he had become a big focus of my time.

    Becky had a serious boyfriend too, but she was going through her own strange year. We bickered a lot, doing a poor job of letting the other one grow and change. Becky would admit that she was harder on me than necessary that year. I can admit that I was a party-pooper to put it mildly.

    After college our long distance friendship felt forced, but since I didn’t know how to let things drift to a natural end, I did something a bit dramatic. Essentially, I told Becky that I didn’t think we should stay friends. My “wish” came true. We were not in each other’s lives during my engagement or when I got married. I’ve been married for twelve years and I still can’t believe Becky wasn’t there. It doesn’t seem possible considering how close we are now.

    Author Julie Klam writes in her memoir Friendkeeping, “There is something to be said for having ‘breaks’ in friendships. Sometimes you find there are things you need to do in your life and a certain friend may not support that change, at that moment anyway. It is very fair to allow people to grow and change, but it’s nice to be able to come back home again, too.”

    After about two years, I missed Becky terribly. As Julie Klam put so well, I wanted to “come back home.” I took a chance that she felt the same way and sent her a handwritten letter explaining how much our friendship had meant to me. I asked her to forgive me for not seeing a different way to handle my need for time apart years earlier.

    Becky never wrote me back. I had set the terms for our break and now she had the right to determine if and when we would reconcile.

    I think a year passed with no word from Becky, but when two of our mutual close friends had weddings planned for the same summer, there was no avoiding each other. During the first of those weekends we hugged (awkwardly) and decided to go for walk. By the end of that walk, our break was over. Becky addressed some of what I had written in the letter, but we honestly didn’t harp on the past too much. We agreed, (with ridiculous amounts of maturity!) that however difficult and hurtful our “break” had been, it had served its purpose. We had ended up with time to grow into ourselves in ways that were hard for the other one to understand and therefore support.

    B & N option 1Our original chemistry was back in full force and we found that we led similar lives with similar values. Bryan and I attended her wedding the next year. Our firstborn children (eight years old now) were born only months apart. We’re now both moms of four and we’ve been there for each other (emotionally though not physically) after the births of each child in those first ugly months when everything makes you cry. We can go two months without talking then speak every day for a week as we try to get to the end of one simple story.

    I feel Becky’s college influence on my life even now. I had always admired how analytical Becky was, how bright, how proud of her Judaism. That I send my kids to a Jewish parochial school is directly connected to Becky. I wanted my children, like Becky, to move confidently and intelligently around all the details of our religion and culture from the ins and outs of the Hebrew language to a deep knowledge and understanding of why we do what we do.

    If that was all Becky had given me it would have been enough. But she gave me so much more. She gave our friendship a second chance. For that and so much more she has my deepest respect, gratitude and love.

     

     

    Badzin125

    Nina Badzin is a writer living in Minneapolis with her husband and four children. Her essays on parenting, marriage, friendship, healthy habits, social media etiquette, Jewish life and more appear in the Huffington Post, Kveller.com, The Jewish Daily forward and numerous other sites. You can find Nina posting weekly on her blog, or chatting away on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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