Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saying Hello and Goodbye

This week has been incredibly busy for us, but it has been wonderful to get to spend some time with good friends. I've been doing a lot of thinking about friendship over the past several days. A couple of weeks ago I found out that a dear friend is moving to another state, and that my best friend since kindergarten is moving much closer to me (that's a photo of us at our kindergarten graduation; I'm on the left). I was sad and happy all at the same time.

I've noticed over the past few years how much I enjoy the comfort of old friends. There's something special about being able to reconnect with someone who knows your past, your family, and all your old stories (the good and the bad, and yes, the ugly). For me it is so important for people to know that I am somebody outside of the problem of infertility. I want them to remember what I was like ten years ago before this nightmare entered my life. I'm scared that the people who only know the present-day Stacey might think that I'm reclusive, depressed, or unfriendly.

I grew up in a very small town where some wonderful friendships were made. I still keep in touch with several elementary and junior high school friends. It is so much fun when we get together and reminisce! Just last night my husband and I stayed out later than usual (for a Monday night) because we were catching up with an old friend and her parents. Before long the conversation turned to the unique experience of living in that small town. I felt kind of sorry for my husband and my friend's husband. They listened and laughed with us but both said they hardly keep up with anyone from their hometowns or huge high schools.

Without a doubt it's comforting to be with old friends. New friends, however, offer a fresh start. They never saw what you looked like when you got your hair cut way too short in the third grade or when you got braces in the tenth grade. They don't know your past or your family, and it's fun sharing those stories you've been telling for years with someone hearing them for the first time. You can discover that you're both still crazy about 80s rock music, have a crush on the same celebrity, or think Happy Hour at Sonic is the best thing ever.

Another sad "side effect" of infertility is that I feel like in some ways my ability to make new friends or maintain old ones gets complicated. I know that sometimes people go in different directions and lose touch because life just gets busy. It's not that we decide to terminate the friendship, it's just that it isn't being nurtured. I have had some friendships grow cold where I really do believe it's because parenthood has made their life so completely different from mine. I'm not shifting the blame entirely away from myself. I know that I've declined a few invitations to go to story hour at the library, the new Disney movie at the theater, or even a play date or two with a group of moms. But these aren't the kinds of things I really enjoy doing at this time in my life. I love the times when I can still get together with my friends who are moms and we can do "grown-up" things. I love their kids too, but I don't want to spend our whole time together watching Dora the Explorer.

More than once in my married life I have been a part of a great group of friends with so much in common and at the same stages of life. Before long, though, everyone moves on and their families grow and change but mine looks exactly the same. No more hanging out past the kids' bedtime. No more spur-of-the-moment trip to see the new movie that might not be "family friendly." More often than not, I now find myself looking for a way out of a conversation that has turned to the subject of labor and delivery or how to find the best nursing bra. It is so hard to be the one left behind. I feel like the only one whose life isn't moving forward.

It is a rare thing to find a friend who strikes the perfect balance. I treasure the ones I have. These are the ones who don't seem awkward when they want to announce their pregnancy. They don't wait until they are 8 months along to finally decide to tell me they're expecting. They know that as much as I'm hurting in my own situation, I still want to share in their joy and have a part in their wonderful news! These friends somehow know that it's ok to show that they care. They realize that I don't always want to talk about my hurts, but they're there when I need to let it out. They know I love hearing updates about their sweet children, but it's not the only topic in the world that we can talk about from now on. They appreciate that sometimes I want to sit on the floor and play with their toddler and his or her cool kid toys, but sometimes I just want to sit on the couch and chat with my friend. There are a few special friends who can make finding this balance seem effortless.

In the next week I'll help an old friend move to a neighboring town and I'll watch a new friend head off to a different state. Both have touched my life in different ways and both have reminded me of the beauty of real friendship.


I Believe in Miracles said...

This is a great post. I'm in a unique situation in the sense that I'm not in touch with anyone (except surface wise) that knew me from elem-HS. And I have a core group of college friends, but they live so far away, it's hard to remain the same closeness that you felt from college. On top of that, we live in a city where people are constantly moving in and out for grad school and jobs. And then there are those that have kids which makes getting together even harder. The whole caboodle makes keeping and maintaining friendships exhausting. But Mel pointed out - its worth it. I'm trying, but its hard. I realize I'd prefer 2-3 really good friends than a lot of surface friends.

Thanks for this great post as a tribute to friendship.

Andrea said...

I LOVE that pic of you and JK!!! I could go on and on (like I did in the email I just sent you) but let's just say I ditto this whole post.

JanaKay said...

Wow! What a blog...I feel warm and fuzzy and guilty all at the same time. It's great to have a friendship like ours where we can pick up where we left off, but I also know that've I've not taken really good care of that friendship either! Hopefully, that will all change with this move. I'm so excited to be moving near the one that swore along with me in grade school - our houses will be 2 inches from each other! I love you and your thoughts!!!