I remember having my daughter at 19; all the friends I once had, quickly vanishing. I’d see pictures of them all hanging out, going on trips, and living it up at college.
Me? I was still in college, working harder than I ever did to prove to myself, and to everyone else, that I could complete my degree while raising a child and working full-time. I exchanged my nights of going out for changing diapers and late-night study sessions. Vacations to tropical islands became kid-friendly places and day trips to the zoo.
My life had to change in an instant. And my friends went with it.
I did it, by the way. I finished college. I am now a full-time college professor and almost done with my PhD (crowd throws confetti).
Along the way, I felt alone. Some days were much more challenging than others, and at times, I felt isolated. My friends came and went. It was difficult for me to stay in contact with them or meet their expectations of friendship due to my life, my goals, my daughter. Texts were left unread and nights of going out declined, due to being too tired, or just wanting to curl with my daughter. I don’t regret it, but it would have been nice to have someone who “understood” the struggle of being a young mom and trying to make it. Make a career. A home. Stability. All of that was harder to come back from due to my age and, well, statistics. They were all working against me.
I didn’t want to become another statistic, so friends, they became a nonpriority.
A few years ago, I got married, and had another child. My daughter is now a teenager, and a lot has changed. We are stable, thriving, and I am so thankful to be able to give my children a good life. The loneliness during those years, it was worth it.
When my brother-in-law started seriously dating a girl, something in me got excited. Could this be? A built-in friendship?
I was already acclimated to the family. I wanted her to feel welcome so quickly, too, we exchanged numbers.
We became friends. Really good friends.
When I got pregnant with my son, six weeks later, she told me she was pregnant too (with a boy!) and that sealed the deal—we became BEST FRIENDS. I never knew what it was like to have a true friend who understood what it was like to be a parent, have a career, and go to school (currently finishing up). At the time, she was finishing nursing school while being pregnant. Instantly, we connected. I knew the challenges, the obstacles, the statistics that were stacked against her.
We encouraged each other. Vented. Complained. Cried. We did it all. And more importantly, shared in the successes.
We both are very busy, but if I leave her message on “read” and respond hours later, she doesn’t judge, because she does it, too, and I get it. There is no judgment. No hard feelings. Just friendship and understanding.
For all these years I was content with not having a friend, a confidante, but now I wonder what I did without her. How I survived without being able to rant and complain or send silly memes too, knowing only she will appreciate them and my humor.
She is, without a doubt, the friend I never knew I needed. And, boy, am I thankful that my brother-in-law chose her.
I hope she knows that I will never be that friend to desert her or let her down. That no matter what, I am her cheerleader, her sounding board and partner in crime.