Monday, August 30, 2010

Friends, Far and Wide -- by Jamie

Last week, I was living a relatively-stress-free life with my daughter and my parents at a resort in sunny Florida. This week, I’m spending cloudier days back at college, immersed in speech and hearing science classes while studying for the GREs and taking care of Jayda, who won’t be starting school for another two weeks. Life’s a lot more complicated now. But one thing that makes both vacation and reality easier for me to handle is good friends. And, fortunately, Jayda and I have quite a few of them.

While vacationing in Florida, Jayda and I both acquired a number of new pals at the hotel pool—including a lovely family from upstate New York whom we plan to visit this fall—and since we’re both happier when we have contemporaries to chat and play with, these people helped make our vacation days even more enjoyable. In addition, I was reunited with several old friends, who are now Floridians—and whom I haven’t seen in many, many years. Several important people from my past made the effort to travel to our resort to spend time with us, and each of these encounters proved to me that good friendships can survive time, distance, and space; true friends are enduring. I left Florida feeling fulfilled and supported by many people whom I don’t interact with every day.

Fortunately, when I arrived back in New York—to more stressful times—I returned to other important friends; the ones who are with me on a daily—or at least weekly—basis, who help make my not-so-simple life seem less complicated. While I was in Florida, one of my friends and I discussed the plight of a mother we both know who wants to leave her husband, but doesn't think she can take care of her family on her own, and we both remarked simultaneously that “you need to have friends you can lean on.” I think that’s true for all kinds of mothers—but especially for single moms.

I realize that I’m especially fortunate to have parents around who can usually help me out in a clinch—but I still need to have back-up support in an emergency, and that’s where reliable friends come in handy. And just as importantly, I need friends to lean on who are good sounding boards when I’m angry or distressed, ones who will give me a reality check when I need it, and especially, friends who can make me laugh when I’m so overwhelmed that all I want to do is cry; I have many of those. I also cherish my friends who will “escape” with me for a drink on occasion (though those occasions are far too rare), friends who turn play dates for my daughter into fun play dates for me, too, and simply, friends who understand me. I love all of my friends—and I’m so grateful for each and every one of them.

After our plane landed back in New York, I asked Jayda if she’d had a good trip. She responded, “I had a great ‘cation,” paused for a moment, and continued, “but I’m excited to be home!” She then went on to talk about all the play dates I had lined up for her in the weeks ahead—and the friends she wanted to see. I understand her enthusiasm—she’s made quite a few lovely little friends. Somehow, it always seems that the girls and boys my daughter gravitates towards have parents whom I really like, too—and the women I befriend always seem to have children that Jayda enjoys spending time with as well. I like to think it’s because nice parents create nice kids; it’s a built-in package deal. But maybe we’re just lucky. And maybe things will change in the future. However, one thing I hope never changes is the fact that Jayda values her friendships as much as I do. Because in good times and bad—we certainly need them!


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