To My Dearest Mommy Friend,
We’ve known each other since we were practically babies. Since before we can remember knowing each other. Now you’re a wife and mother to a four year old with another baby on the way. I am still single, trying to figure out my next career move and wondering if I’ll ever find a husband and have kids. I know we’ve always called ourselves “best friends,” but lately I’ve been wondering if we’re living up to the title.
How can we possibly call each other “best friends” when life seems to have other plans for our friendship?
Having recently moved home, to the town I fled after high school and the place you never left, I’ve been confronted with this head-on. Maybe you have, too. But we’re both afraid to bring it up. Now that we’re living in the same city, our divergent lifestyles are being forced together.
It’s during the awkward silences at the gym, as we walk side-by-side on treadmills, that I long for the Sunday afternoons years ago when we would go to Target and wander the aisles looking for whatever we could blow our money on. We’d eventually leave with a bag of Swedish Fish and a new season of “Sex and the City” on DVD to watch as soon as we got back at your apartment. Or those mornings spent at a local diner eating pancakes and drinking whipped-cream-topped hot chocolate while whispering about the cute busboy. I don’t suppose your husband would find it too cute if you did that now. But, for single me brunch and boy gossip is still a regular part of my life. It’s called Saturday.
And, often times Sunday. At least that’s how it was in Los Angeles.
Can I tell you a bit about what my life in L.A. was like the last six years? We’ve never really talked that much about it. And, I know I’m not one to offer up many details, but then again, you never really asked.
I was surrounded by friends just like me: single, childless and trying like mad to carve out a place for themselves in the vastness of the city. No, I wasn’t always happy or understood by these friends, and at times I felt alienated, but we were all sharing the same struggle. It was with these friends that I felt most open and shared many an intimate, sad, or self-pitying story. And they got it because they’d been there themselves. I didn’t share these stories with you because I figured you wouldn’t understand. You were married at 23 and a mother by 26. How could you understand the life of a single twenty-something living in Los Angeles?
From what I can figure, we let time get away from us and spent too many years in near-radio silence. Me in Los Angeles and you back home. And now, here we are, face-to-face and it’s like we’re trying to scream to each other from opposite banks of a windy lake. We may be shouting at the top of our lungs, but we can’t understand what the other person is saying.
Like when you explained to me a week ago that after your second baby is born, you aren’t planning on going back to work, ever. You said that you want to be a stay-at-home mom and focus on taking care of your kids and husband. Maybe even start making jewelry or baby accessories. I was speechless, and, yes, a little judgmental. The lake between us felt larger, the wind stronger. It was this conversation that really made me wonder how we could still be friends, let alone best friends, with nothing left in common.
Can I still call this stay-at-home mom my best friend? Can she call this directionless, single girl hers? Are we afraid of hurting each other if we suddenly take away the “best” and just call ourselves friends?
The only answer I have is this: yes. Yes, we can still be friends. Yes, I want to be friends. Yes, it would probably sting to suddenly have a meeting and downgrade our friendship. I want the “best” to mean something, but at the end of the day, I know it’s just a word.
“Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
This hit home with me because I struggle with who I am on a daily basis, which can make me quick to judge. It comes from envy, not hate. Envy of those, like you, who seem to have it all figured out. But it also made me wonder if we’re still just forcing our friendship. Then I considered this next passage from the book:
“If we were born to raise and nurture children, it’s our job to become a mother. The artist and the mother are vehicles, not originators. They don’t create the new life, they only bear it.”
I hadn’t been willing to accept that by becoming a mother you were actually doing the job you were born to do. I guess in some ways I felt taunted by it because my future is so unclear. Like you were waving in front of my face something I might never have. But, when you asked me to go with you to your sonogram appointment the other day I felt honored. And watching as you got to see your little baby moving around on the screen I realized you’re being the mother you were meant to be. So, let’s just leave the “best” where it stands and work towards being the most honest friends a mom and a single girl can be to one another. After all, the “best” has been there all along, we just need a little more time to figure out how to bear it.