The “For Sale” sign went up yesterday. We all knew it was coming, but it was still a shock to see it. There, in the front yard where we’d spent so many afternoons kicking balls and jumping rope and pedaling tricycles. There, in front of the porch where we’d sat blowing bubbles, licking Popsicles (kids), sipping wine (moms). Our neighbors are moving and we’re heartbroken.
I say “we” because over the nearly 10 years we’ve both lived on our street, our whole families have become friends. It may have started out with the kids, but somewhere along the way it became about the grownups, too. The camaraderie with another at-home mom with small kids. The convenience of trading rides, meals, and garden tools. The moral support of a shared glass of wine at the end of a long week.
Here’s what no one tells you about having kids: you lose friends. People who’ve chosen not to have kids or can’t have them, work friends and casual friends, people with very different parenting techniques than you, people who move away to be closer to family – all kinds of people fall away, for all kinds of reasons. This doesn’t always happen, but it does happen.
If you’re lucky, you will keep some of your old friends, and make some new ones. The new ones might surprise you. You might think you have little in common except your kids, only to find you have everything in common including your kids.
The best friends, post-kids, are the ones who don’t mind if you forget to call them back or return their Tupperware. Or better yet, don’t even notice. They don’t care if you miss their birthday or blow them off at the last minute because your husband surprised you by getting a babysitter. They lend you milk. They let you vent. They keep you sane. They let you know you’re not alone.
Being a work-at-home mom like I am can be lonely. I don’t have office colleagues I see daily. My husband commutes and works long hours. My extended family lives far away. So my happiness has increased a bazillion percent by having friends in the neighborhood. Luckily, the family that’s moving is one of several nearby we’re friendly with. And luckily, they aren’t moving far. Too far to open the door and send a kid over to their house or run down to borrow an egg, but not so far we can’t still get together for family dinners now and then.
People move. Friendships change. Kids grow up. That’s life. I know this, and my kids are learning this, but it still doesn’t make it any easier when that “For Sale” sign goes up.
READ O’ THE DAY: I’m pleased to announce the very timely launch of my former writing student Christa Melnyk Hines’ new e-book, “Confidently Connected: A Mom’s Guide to a Satisfying Social Life.” The book contains advice, anecdotes, and concrete steps to find supportive mom friends, avoid mommy cliques and draining relationships, and connect and converse with confidence. Check it out!