Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The half-life of friendship

It's usually pretty clear when a romantic relationship is over. Friendships, not so much. My musings on the subject are up today at the Chicago Moms Blog.

Since the Chicago Moms Blog is being shut down, I've pasted my post here:

3845601154_282cccfe74Like a lot of women, I need friends. My husband completes me in many ways, but my life would have a giant hole in the middle without girlfriends. And since my lifelong best girlfriend hasn't lived within 1000 miles of me since we were both 17, I don't take girlfriends for granted.

After graduation, my college girlfriends moved away. A few years later, I changed jobs and drifted apart from my work girlfriends. I made friends with the women who dated and married my guy friends, but I was lonely for genuine girl-friendship.

Finally, in 2004 we started a family. Now having a baby is good for lots of reasons, but for me, the cherry on top of the cuddles and cuteness was the whole new social network motherhood opened up. For the first time since college, I could strike up a conversation--even exchange phone numbers--with someone I'd met by chance. It seemed "How old is your baby?" was the ultimate pick-up line. And it kept getting better. I made friends at a new moms' support group, at the park, at daycare, in the neighborhood and at baby classes. I made friends with other mom bloggers. I organized a playgroup, took turns planning girls' nights out and just about cried with joy when my still fairly new friends helped my husband plan a surprise 30th birthday party.

We signed our daughter up for preschool and made more friends--people who didn't just have kids the same age as ours, but really great, interesting people whom I would have wanted to know regardless of their family situation.

But as we make new friends, old friendships are fading. I'm seeing less and less of my "original mom friends" and I struggle with that. How much effort do I put into keeping the fires of friendship alive as our children head off to separate schools and find their own, new playmates? If I've planned the last outing or hosted the last dinner, should I wait for a reciprocal invitation, or is keeping in touch from time to time the kinder thing to do?

On the one hand, I don't think there's such a thing as too many friends. On the other, I don't want to expend a lot of energy trying to rev up a friendship that's stalled, especially at the risk of coming off seeming needy. Is it worth it to nurture a previously close friendship if you only see each other every few months? I'd say only time will tell, but hopefully the internet will fill me in a lot faster.