The Inexplicable Wow Factor Of Having Friends Of All Ages

Female friendship can be tricky and sometimes mom friends are hard to find. But there’s a really great reason why we need adult friends and friends of all ages.

Jason and I went out for a rare Monday night date. I was tired and resistant, he was sweet and patient. His college buddy was in town. Their time together is rare, although the sadness in this is hardly ever discussed, it’s there, and for one night he wanted to gather as if together wasn’t so fleeting. So I shed my glasses and flip flops for heels and gloss, and we went.

It was a lovely night. Warm and crisp at the very same time. We settled at a high-top, beer and cider and gin and tonics and many years of different relationships threaded between us. I sat bookended by two young women who are both at very different life stages than I am. A young mom battling naps and tantrums and schedules in one hand and the tug and pull of work and friendships and home in the other, and a young woman just finishing school, finding admirably scrappy ways to leap toward her dreams.

Both were ridiculously fun to talk to. I noticed this, and reveled in the feeling of it, in the moment and shared it with my husband later. There’s something that I couldn’t quite place my finger on that was truly inspiring about crossing life-stage friendship lines.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve searched for friendships with women who were placing the same life puzzle pieces down as I was. College friends prioritizing, and constantly reprioritizing, classes and Work Study hours and Thursday nights out at The Cantina. Grad school students holding onto our schedules and deadlines with clenched fingertips, afraid that if we dared loosen, everything we were so precariously juggling, would drop. New teachers with carefully prepped projects and twenty or so children unrelated to us, who we referred to as “our kids.” Young mothers, soccer moms, aspiring writers. Each time I’d meet a woman who was doing life in the same stage that I was, I’d breath easier in her company. She gets it, I’d think; She gets me, I’d mean.

But sitting with these two women, I felt something different than the in-it-togetherness I’ve looked for in friendships for all of these years, and I liked it.

There’s I already get you, and I want to know more about you.

There’s we see things the same way, and different doesn’t make either one of us wrong.

There’s affirmation in similar paths, and inspiration in differing ones

There’s seeing what is, and noting glimmers of possibility

There’s the beauty of the same lens, and the insight of new views

There’s the mirror of right now, the reminder of what was, and the suggestion of what could be.

The beauty of finding friends who are in the same life stage isn’t lost on me. But the value in seeking out women in a different place, path, and age, is just as stunning.

That night, as the three of us shared what was on our minds, criss-crossing new threads, I found myself sharing something that had been bothering me in the unvoiced crevices of my heart. My daughter has recently picked up a habit that gives me pause. As my worries tumbled out, these two young women said all the things one would want them to, and the one thing that I needed them to. They listened and nodded and affirmed, then they asked me one simple question: Are her friends doing this, too?

In the mess that was my young motherhood, I quickly learned to check in with other moms to see whose kids were sleeping, eating, and talking, where and when. But as my kids have gotten older, I sometimes get lost in drawing the line between what’s my story to tell and what’s theirs’, and I forget the (truly high) value in reaching out.

These young women who are closer to grad school and young motherhood, times when reaching out is a more well-known lifeline, saw so very clearly what my next step should be. The beauty of a friend in a different life stage is that she sees you, and everything that comes with you, from a different perspective, and this is underrated.

So over gin and tonics on a Monday night, I was reminded by two wise, young women of two wise, important things–leave yourself open to new friends and reach out to friends of all ages. We need each other.

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More Great Thoughts About Friendship:

The Five Kinds Of School Friends Every Mom Needs is one of my favorite essays about the kinds of friends moms make once kids start school.

My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends is a compelling book of essays about friendships lost.

The Problem With ‘Best Friends Forever’ is a beautifully written essay about thy myth of a one-and-only BFF.

How The Term “Gal Pals” Invalidates Queer Relationships is a stick-to-your-ribs good essay about a term too loosely used by the media to describe women in relationships.

Friends, we are, indeed, spreading kindness–together–I can’t thank you enough for that. #kindnesswins t-shirts are showing up across the country and they make my heart absolutely burst every single time I see them. You can find them and other #kindnesswins goodies in my Shop. Thank you for this, thank you for you.

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Comments

  1. So true. Great post and thanks for sharing mine. I LOVE all the pictures of people in their #kindnesswins t-shirts!

  2. I LOVE it when my wife comes back from a “girls night out.” There’s a sense of “happy and relaxed and I actually got to find myself” about her – something that is WELL worth dealing with cranky kids on my own :)

  3. So true! The last three years I’ve lived in my home town, but its hasn’t been my high school friends I”ve been hanging out with, its older mothers. Whose kids are in college, or my age, or high school. And it is so great to discuss with them what their kids are up to, what things they want to do as a family, while I ask them tips for how they got to where they are.

  4. I have a group of friends who are roughly my age. While we are the same point in our lives, they often seem boring and stuck.

    I have a group of friends who are about 20-25 years younger. We bonded over common interests, and thrill in still seeing things in each other. In finding that commonality extends beyond generation.

    It’s a great way to live! While many of my same-age friends dismiss the younger for being their children’s age… they don’t know what they’re missing in their own lives.