I said goodbye to a friend a few days ago. As we hugged in her living room while our daughters ran around the apartment, I realized that this was going to be a bigger deal for me than I anticipated; another sneaky, sad milestone of motherhood.
My first mom friend is moving away. We’ll still keep in touch, of course, but the realization that we’re not going to see each other every week, and that our kids aren’t going to eat fistfuls of frosting and sprinkles under the guise of decorating cookies at our Halloween party this year had me crying all the way home. In the back seat, Ida said “it’s okay Mama, they’ll be back in a minute” which made me cry even more as I tried to explain to Ida again that her first friend is moving far away and no, we’re not going to see them at the playground this week. Or the zoo. Or the aquarium. Or. Or. Or. Hearing Ida scroll though the list of all of the fun places we’ve shared with our friends did nothing to cap the well.
My friend and I are an unlikely pair in a lot of ways. She’s an unflappable, fancy, real-deal grownup who knows all kinds of useful things like which kind of sunscreen is best or where to get a collapsible toddler potty seat. You’d look at her and think “that woman has her poop in a group.” I’m a largely research-free, sometimes semi-employed vagabond who just assumed her 18 month old would maybe be able to balance on a public toilet somehow. You’d see me and wonder, “is that a dog’s leash tied to the handlebars of her toddler’s tricycle?” Yes. Yes it is. I remember seeing my friend for the first time in our childbirth class and thinking to myself “now there’s somebody who should be having a baby” and then looking down and realizing that I accidentally wore the pants with a hole in the crotch. Again. But after our kids were born and I sent a desperate email asking if anyone wanted to meet up with me for coffee, she responded right away. We became fast friends, bonding over the fact that life with a newborn is really freaking hard; especially when you’re doing it for the first time.
We took our tiny babies to the movies every week during those first few months and she never once judged me for eating a humongous tub of popcorn for breakfast (or at least she never said anything). We got together for living room play dates during snOMG 2011, and later that summer, we conducted a thorough search for the city’s coolest playgrounds. We left our husbands at home with the kids and went to the bar; discussed how suddenly our marriages had changed, and hashed out all of the stuff that it just wasn’t possible to share with anyone else. We relished telling stories of our parenting successes and the amazing and strange people our kids were becoming. We understood. We made sure that the other didn’t feel invisible and that seemingly small thing alone felt like a miracle. Her presence in my life helped me find my feet as a mother.
I’m so sad that she’ll be far away, but so grateful that her friendship came to me right when I needed it most. Right at the edge of feeling like I would never be able to do this – to raise this impossibly cranky needy little meatloaf – my new friend came along and bore witness to my surviving and stayed by me as I spun it into joy. She encouraged me so much, and served as living evidence that I must be at least a little bit decent, seeing as I had roped someone so smart and kind into being my friend.
Thanks, A. You’re the best. Aw shit, I’m crying again. I’m going to miss you like crazy.