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  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

ABC’s and PhD’s: Friends
January 4, 2012 - 3:00am

The end of 2011 was a mad, crazy flurry in our household. Between the season’s added extras: visits from family and friends, shopping for gifts, driving kids around, a science fair experiment (etc) and finishing some high priority work items over the holidays we did manage to catch up on some tasks (and sleep!) postponed through much of the fall.  Still, a lot still remains to be done.  For example, we never took care of the slow leak in our car’s rear tire that showed up in the beginning of December (or was that November?)  Finding a nearby gas station with free air where I stop to top up the pressure each time I pass by has been to our detriment as it has acted as a crutch for dealing with this task.  We also didn’t get any of our usual holiday cards sent out… and the list goes on.   

For much of what we did get done, and many other things as well, I must thank my friends.  I thank several of them for helping in deciding between cameras and Kindles for the kids’ Christmas presents this year (after much debate, we chose cameras).  I thank one for giving me her recipe and advice on chocolate-covered pretzels, which made fast, easy holiday goodies for teachers.  I thank many for helping to arrange holiday kid entertainment and a horse camp over the break (and one for taking our driving shift at the very last minute, when air pressure in above tire was suddenly found to be too low).  I thank old and new friends for inspiring us with pictures, news and good cheer from far and near, hanging on our wall in the form of holiday cards (and providing impetus to send ours).  I owe thanks for enjoying a great exercise class with me; for relaxation over a beer in our local brew house; for sharing experiences, thoughts and support and understanding; for a fun and interesting New Year’s eve party.

I have been warmly thinking about friends especially since this New Year’s party, when a woman I had just met surprised me by declaring, “I refuse to make adult friends through my children.”  The idea of actively not befriending the parents of my children’s friends just hadn’t occurred to me. Many of the parents of my daughters’ friends are strikingly different from me, and they are people I probably wouldn’t have connected if I didn’t have children. In the beginning our interactions revolved around our kids relationships.  It is true that I don’t click with some of the parents of my daughter’s friends.  But in the last twelve years many have grown into friendships beyond those of our children to thoroughly enrich my life: motivating me to take up new hobbies, read different books, glean new perspectives and lean on when I’m down.  My kids evolving friends more than double the pool of people I meet.

The friendships won’t all last a lifetime, few friendships do; on the other hand, some certainly have potential to live far beyond the time my kids live at home. I appreciate anew that my parents still have regular contact with parents of several of my old elementary school friends (I love reading the holiday cards they send my parents) although I have long lost touch with these friends myself. I feel fortunate to have an extensive, diverse and growing network of friends - it’s a luxury to have the opportunity to meet even more people through my children, a luxury that I foresee perhaps declining when my kids age out of our neighborhood elementary school.

Do I misunderstand the perspective of this woman at the party?  Perhaps she worries of the banality of discussing kids instead of other topics.  Maybe, since her child is only a year and a half old, her ideas on this will change. I certainly treasure the relationships I’ve forged through my kids and don’t readily differentiate them from friends I met on my own.

No matter how you meet your friends, I wish you, readers, many happy friendships for 2012!



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