Last night I met with a girlfriend over a mojito (her) and a hot toddy (me). Things had gotten a little tense in our group and after it all sorted itself out (mostly) I realized that at the very least it was time for a talk between the two of us. A half hour into our discussion I’m glad we’re doing it – although part of me dreaded it for a while – and we are both more relaxed. Soon we turn to the subject of our female friendships in our mutual peer group. “I haven’t had so many challenges in sorting myself out socially since junior high,” I muse. As I say it, I suddenly realize it is true.
It’s the (new) Mama-thing. Weird shit happens when you get all the juice going – the biological drives of a huntress and a lioness with new cubs – and this ferocity and these fear(s) funnel into your choices of what kind of Mama you’re going to be, what kind of parents you were raised by (if at all) and how you feel about it, what your choices of friends means about your social class and lifestyle … the list goes on and on. The sudden, vomitous baggage we bring plays out in a multitude of ways, but it boils down to this: I’ve become rather deliberate in who I call “Friend” and who I call, well – I haven’t really come up with a term for it yet – so in my mind it’s “friend” without a capital “F” (sometimes I substitute “acquaintance”, which seems a little cold). I have many friends in town, but only a few close ones. They probably do not explicitly recognize the trust I place in them. They’re my safe place. Anyone else, especially in the larger group? Not so safe.
Does it sound like I’m being a paranoid jerk? I’m not. I’m able to feel safe with those I’m close to, enjoy the larger group, and spend little time guessing what so-and-so meant when she said such-and-such (yes, this kind of shit is exactly what resurfaces during new-Mamahood). Maybe I’ll feel better in a few years, when we’ve all settled down and rejoined as sisters. I’ve always had this romantic notion of finding the women (and families) who have the balls and courage to raise our families together with me, not in stingy competition while ensuring “the best” (schools, nutrition, exposure to likewise well-mannered children, etc). Thank Jesus I’ve found some Friends who agree in this (sometimes unspoken) pact – and not coincidentally, those are the same women who view me and my children as part of their families, rather than another competitor at the carcass.