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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Circle of Friends

Recently, I was fortunate to catch up with a friend/former co-worker of mine from Boston. She was in DC with her husband; they used his business trip to take a “babymoon” of sorts before they embark on having their 3rd child. Godspeed, Lindsey and Richard! I askedher to reflect on our time together that afternoon and help me with this blog – thanks for your help and constant support, dear friend!

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It was truly wonderful to meet up with Lindsey at the National Gallery of Art’s lobby and start talking, right there on the bench, as if we had just seen each other at work yesterday. We eventually made our way to have lunch where our conversations weaved in and out, covering topics such as motherhood (her pregnancy and my menopause made for some real full circle moments), marriage, work, our kids’ lives, scheduling summer camps (ugh), and friends.

Something we pondered was the notion of how hard it is for adults to make friends (check out the Psychology Today article on the matter). Specifically, how challenging it can be for us, as mothers, to navigate our varying social circles. It’s exhausting — even if you are not trying that hard to participate!

Childhood friends, high school/college friends, neighbors, work colleagues, spouse’s friends, and parents of our kids’ friends all come with different levels of interaction and expectations. Of course, these groups are not finite (an epic Venn Diagram comes to mind) and, if you throw in your siblings, you really up the ante!

Inevitably, our lives go through changes and the individuals in these friend networks come and go and that’s sometimes really hard to process (one might say it’s a lot like grieving). So, what mature adult would continuously put themselves out there, in the dating world of friends, to try and build their network?

Well, we are all human, and mostpeople have some desire to connect, to feel part of something. Also, some of us recognize the importance of networking for current and future financial livelihood. Every time I reach out to schedule a coffee, play, or lunch date, I risk rejection. And, often with risk, can come great rewards (being given the opportunity to write this blog is a terrific example). The key is to not beat myself up when attempts to connect don’t work out and, here’s the tough part…not compare myself to others. It’s not a contest and the sooner we realize that as parents, the better we can help children feel confident in how they navigate their own world of friends.

Given the number of times Steve and I have moved, I’ve had a lot of experience in starting over and building new support networks. It took me awhile to realize a) I can’t be everything to everyone and b) neither can anyone else. That’s why I really love an article the magazine Real Simple ran entitled, “5 Types of Friends Everyone Should Have.” Yes, I know, we shouldn’t live our lives by boxes or lists – I just love the simplicity and truthfulness to how this list feels to me. And, there are some useful additional resources listed from the contributors to the article.

So, the next time you are feeling like you aren’t doing enough in the world of Friends, take stock, I bet you have all you need…

The Comic Relief

The Life Coach

The Risk Taker

The Challenger

The Loyalist

And even better, I bet you fulfill these roles in so many people’s lives and don’t even know it! 😉

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