Happy Graduation! When your child graduates from high school, s/he is not not the only one to whom you will have to bid farewell. Prepare also to say goodbye to moms that you “bonded” with during that tumultuous journey. Who knew that the only thing worse than navigating yourself through high school, would be helping your own kid through a much more intense labyrinth? Sure, it is bittersweet to watch your teenager move on to face more challenges and an exciting new life without you. Challenges also await youmy dear “friend.” Many women realize that their “friendships” were situational, and once the need for school updates and gossip is removed, the relationship disappears along with it. Trust me, the writing was on the wall many years ago. The benefit of hindsight will make you want to kick yourself for being so naïve and gullible.
After bidding a teary adieu to your teenager and wishing her well, you turn around seeking the tender arms of a friend to console you. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself swatting at the air. If you’re lucky enough to have someone standing there, the hug may feel hollow. How did this happen? Well, I suspect it started when you were overwhelmed with the world of high school and felt tasked with raising the perfect child. School catapults many parents back into the roles they portrayed during their own school days. The people who are able to answer the most questions are the people we align ourselves with. Maybe it’s worth a pause to question if you like this person? Is she kind? Pausing to answer these questions can save much heartache in the coming years. Don’t let the need to access insider information trump the true value of a sincere relationship. Well my dear friend, ask yourself a couple of questions:
1. Is this person a friend or a campus colleague? If this is a person you like and would associate with even if your children weren’t in the picture, proceed. If she’s a colleague, proceed with caution. Don’t get it twisted and expect anything more from the association than information. Keep it friendly, just don’t allow yourself to be suckered into thinking there’s more.
2. Is this gossip or is it truly valuable information my child will benefit from? If it’s gossip, resist the temptation and excuse yourself. Valuable information deserves your time and attention. Don’t linger for the crazy chatter; it simulates a camaraderie that doesn’t exist. Who hasn’t sat on a plane for several hours next to a passenger and ended up talking a little too intimately? Some of us even go so far as to share personal information that would probably be wise to keep in the overhead bin. When you were fastening your seat belt and turning off your phone you probably never would’ve guessed you’d tell cabin mate 17B a.k.a. “the stranger” that your husband snores and that you are deathly afraid of frogs. Proximity breeds false familiarity. Well, the same can be said of school friendships. Take the information and run with it. Don’t fool yourself into believing that just because you both are looking for an algebra tutor that she also cares that you got in an argument with your sister.
If you are a woman starting on your own pilgrimage with less company than anticipated, enjoy the solitude. Take this alone time to nurture being friends with yourself. Pursue things that make you happy and bring you joy. It is in this space that you will find a true friend that shares your interests. The first real friend you meet won’t require that you go any farther than your own bathroom mirror. Good morning sunshine! There is no need to avoid relationships that serve you for a season. Seize these relationships and embrace them with gusto. Wisely identify the role these women will play in your life. You will benefit from the clarity.