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?
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.
Yet 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 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.