When I was less than four feet tall, I collected stickers and dolls that I would line up on a bookshelf and kiss every night–the dolls, not the stickers. Now that I am an impressive 5’ 4”, I collect friends that come to sit at my kitchen table. In the last seventeen years while living in four states, three time zones and five homes, I have had mucho experience making and keeping friends.
I’ve heard that friends are like clothes in your closet: each is appropriate for different seasons in life and each specializes in meeting different needs. So far in my adult life and across this great continent, I’ve observed that I have needed these five types of friends to complete my fabulous friend wardrobe.
And let me notate here that yes, husbands hopefully are your friend, best friend even. However, he is not, never will be and never should be your all in one everything. No person should ever be burdened with fulfilling your every need, wish, and whim for companionship. You will still need other women, both older and younger, to mentor you, serve you and laugh with you.
In the front of your friendship closet I hope you have a friend who is like your favorite t-shirt: comfy, worn-in and no matter what your mood—totally appropriate. This old friend knows your crazy family history, can write a pamphlet on why you are the way you are and how they like you anyway.
She’s probably seen you in your underwear, heard you sobbing over the phone or held you while you despaired over nursing woes. Note to self: sisters make great old friends. She is the type of friend that even though you haven’t physically seen her in 9 years you can catch up and be right back where you were in 10 minutes.
If you look waaay back in the nether regions of your friendship closet, you will find your Deep Friend. She’s the one who is like a therapist, only cheaper. And probably happy to eat ice cream as you delve into what makes a marriage really happy. She is perfectly at peace with dissecting your family background and how that formed the person you are now. She loves discussing the world, religion and how to have a better, happier and richer life.
Ah, the Deep Sister-friend—she is worth her weight in gold. Or Prozac.
About two-thirds back right next to your jeans that you last wore 10 years ago after baby #2 is your “Mentor-been- there-and- is- willing- to- share- the- sweat- from- her- t-shirt” friend.
These friends are often the age of your older siblings or even your mother. But even though she might say the same things that your mother does, you don’t roll your eyes. It sounds so right and true and a lot less annoying.
You mother probably sends her a script but who cares? She commiserates and validates your concerns. She says, “I’ve been there” without sounding condescending. She watches your children because she misses her own and she makes sure to remind you often to make time for yourself. Sure, she might be slightly outdated when you compare her to all the new styles, but the Mentor is one irreplaceable friend.
Our next friend is one of my current favorites: the Surprise friend. Finding this person is like visiting your local thrift store looking for a cool Halloween costume and you find J Crew pants for $2.
The surprise friend is the one you meet at a playgroup or school meeting and your first reaction is that you have nothing in common and she probably has socks that cost more than your entire wardrobe. Then you find out as time goes on that she’s not as shallow or weird as you originally thought.
And the notion of spending time with her sitting on a park bench watching your children hang by their toes doesn’t make you gag or feel like getting a root canal. She’s actually funny. And smart!
Surprise friends are like sprinkles on the cake of life—colorful and unexpected.
The last and most-important friend you can have is one that took me many moons to collect. She’s one that many don’t realize is a necessity. She’s the Snuggie in your friendship closet—one that not many see and one that is not necessarily flattering.
You should be one of your closest friends. I hope that little voice in your head is like a great coach and not the mean girls from 6th grade–inherently critical and smarmy.
Recently, I’ve trained myself to control my inner dialogue so that when I lose it and holler at a child for hitting their sibling (again) my first response is not, “You’re a loser mother” but “You will do better next time.”
Some women still feel this adolescent need to always be with someone, texting someone or planning daily mommy play dates. It’s ok to just BE.
To be with yourself and your thoughts and have awkward conversations like:
You: “How ar…”
You: “Are you going to the gy…”
Self: “Probably not.”
You: “Really? You know how good you feel afterw…”
Self: “I know. I should…Ok, I’ll go.”
Helpful? Double yes.
And though I am a certified extrovert who is slightly-over sharing and a lover of people, I think many women need these distinct relationships to make their lives richer and happier.
Are these five friend styles the only ones necessary for sustaining a healthy friend closet?
Is it necessary to collect friends like charm bracelets?
But I do know that it has taken many types of women over many years to help me be a better person, a better mother, a better wife. I need them. I need their wisdom, their laughter and their genuine humanity to rub off on me.
And that’s more helpful than any collection of items I could stick high on a shelf.
photo cred: pexels.com