Long ago, in my previous life when I had my blog about the surface level pleasures of life, I occasionally managed to scratch that surface and go a bit deeper. I distinctly remember writing a post entitled The Power of Female Friendship (Otherwise Known as Drinking Wine In My Kitchen). It touched on the intimacy that forms between women under the broad and highly generalized term of “friendship”.
And so tonight, on the eve of Mother’s Day, I decided to take a little bit of a deeper dive into that phenomena. Female friendship. I will start by saying that I’ve just come off of a 9-day vacation with 6 of the most influential women in my life. To keep it from being a total estrogen-fest, we include my two children, my niece, and my brother-in-law (who should have a badge of honor for just, well, being freaking awesome.)
Every year, it seems that one of us is dealing with some sort of life emergency or turmoil. This one is divorced. That one had a baby with a host of physical ailments. Another lost her job after 27 years and then there was my shit-show, of course. And this year without fail, a woman I consider both a friend and a maternal figure was dealing with the sudden abandonment of her husband (and partner) of 50 years.
Before you start to think, wow, these seem like really upbeat and fun vacations, let me assure you that there is a very good balance of both the gritty and the raw, and the laughs and commraderie, and balancing the two of those entities are the healing powers of the sea, the salt, the sand, and the moon. Sit on the beach with a cup of coffee while the sun rises and tell me you don’t feel like life will just be…okay.
So this year, a random appearance of Psychology Today magazine led us all to ask the candid question, how do you perceive me? which led to an all day group therapy session in which we complimented each other, honored our good qualities like trophies and looked into mirrors held by each other at our worst qualities. Once again, you might be thinking with heavy sarcasm, what a wild vacation, but trust me when I say it was cathartic.
And it led me to considering the importance of these women in my life. Some are blood relatives, some on life long friends, some are relatively “new” friends. When it was my turn to speak of my BFF, I recall saying something like “We met each other and fell in love, in a non-romantic way”. Which leads to the thought…what would I do without these women?
What would I do without my BFF? What would I do without my sister, who I admire so much and who’s pessimism is sometimes a reality check? Without my aunt who always manages to play devil’s advocate in a way that seems quiet and fair? Without my mom’s friends, who walk the fine line between feeling like pseudo- mothers and best friends? What would I do without my mother, who is such a constant and strong figure in my life?
What would I do without my daughter who, though I love her as equally as my son, offers a new dimension in my life in terms of female relationships? What would I do without that yearly trip to look forward to, the single amazing moment when we all finally arrive and giddily hug and jump around on the beach, with the anticipation of a week of paradise ahead of us? Without those afternoon conversations on the beach that delve into the depths of who we are? Without the bloody marys that accompany those conversations, served beachside in plastic cups?
Without those conversations about nothing, late at night, that bring on laughing, the kind where you cannot breath, tears run and it sounds like a cackling hen-house? Without the inside jokes and the reminiscing? Without the early morning moments on the deck with my mom, quietly each doing our own thing?
I watched my mom’s friend, my friend, cross a line last week. She pulled herself out of her misery, she turned a point, and she stuck up for herself, even if just to us. She went home with “a plan”–and I know this is vague–but to say that the beach was a turning point for her in her journey with life, which has walloped her a big shit sandwich…is a big understatement.
And last night, I found myself once again in a conversation with Trollup, trying to negotiate things with her regarding my daughter’s birthday…and I found myself wanting to somehow get across to her that she is my daughter. Not Trollup’s. Your boyfriend may have custody on MY little girl’s birthday, but YOU did not birth her. You didn’t care for her, comfort her, nurse her, love her, mother her, for every single day of the past 7 years. So no, Trollup, I don’t give two shits that you have “all day plans” on my daughter’s birthday. That doesn’t trump a mother wanting to see her child on the anniversary of they day they were born.
But I digress. I’m not even sure I’ve articulated what I wanted to say. I had a shitty husband, yes. And I have no husband now. But women have always been a constant in my life, and more than ever I feel like there’s a connection that goes deeper the more you nurture it. I will see all of these women over the course of the next year, but there is something magical about being together. In a land of sea and salt, infused with laughter, comedy, tears, and most of all, love.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the women in my life!