posted by: Guest Blogger
I had many great friends in my younger years. My parents still marvel at their social, spunky little daredevil who jumped out of the crib before they even contemplated the possibility. I always made a friend shortly after we parked our popup camper at a campsite. I can look back at elementary, middle, and high school fondly and recall some great people in my life who have grown into accomplished women and men. My friends in college were basically my family for four years, and I think I took those connections for granted at the time–many of which remain today. You don’t have to speak to a good friend very often to have him or her pop into your mind from time to time.
I have very little contact with friends from my youth because I made the decision to move across country as soon as I graduated from college. I have a social media outlet that allows me to peek in on other’s lives, but I don’t meet up for coffee or grab dinner with my childhood friends, most of whom live on the East Coast where I spent the first twenty-three years of my life. Because of that, I now appreciate Facebook and other social media much more than I ever thought I would.
I remained completely off the grid in my 20’s, even when my husband and I only had each other, and meeting people continued to be a challenge. We both made friends at work and through our neighbors, but we realized quickly that it was nothing like college. We weren’t crammed into a building with people the same age, similar interests, and the same early gen-ed class that we ran to in order to arrive on time. We didn’t sit around with a group of new people on a Friday night discussing life stories and philosophical change with our Boone’s Farm blue wine…well, mine at least. No, we were definitely adults now, and we felt separated and disillusioned in many ways.
We continued to each have select friends, mostly co-workers, and we were genuinely happy with the life we were trying to build. We accepted our choice to live in Colorado. Our contentedness only grew with time.
My happiness changed when I became a mom.
Originally, I was teaching online and loved working from home, but the isolation of having a newborn and a career to juggle, all in one place, changed me. I knew that I had to make an effort to reinvent myself and my life, just like my little guy was doing for me in other ways daily. So I got online and actually went to some events on Meetup.com. I used to think that I would never do something like that, but in the end, I found my friends who would become an extension of my family. I found places like story time at the library, which my son absolutely loved. I had fun singing “Five Little Monkeys” with him, yet I yearned to speak to other women and see how crazy their morning was and what they were feeling that day. And eventually I did…
I may be a social person, but it doesn’t come easy. I think of myself as a bit of an extrovert and an introvert. I like to be home. I like my space. But I like people just as much, if not more.
Friends are an essential, healthy part of life for anyone, but for a new mom, that need extends beyond my wildest expectations. A profound shift took place when I made new life. I needed support and wisdom. I craved people to commiserate with, laugh with, learn from, share with, and ultimately grow with over time.
I now have women who I trust to take my son in a heartbeat–if I am sick or have an appointment, want to work, or just need some time. I have friends with whom I can share everyday occurrences over the telephone, and spend genuine time with on a weekend. That time is something I no longer take for granted. I feel enriched by the intelligent, refreshing people who have entered my life since I became a mom. The life-altering event of motherhood might have made me lose some aspects of myself, but what I gained in my son and in others surpasses the loss.
Many of my friends live in a similar world that I do. We have family. We love our family. Our family just lives thousands of miles from us. It’s a choice we made, and a much more common choice in contemporary life, but it’s not always effortless. So when our family might be a phone call or Google hangout away, our friends are beside us and become our family, our saving grace, and our life lines that remain strong and unchanged with time.
Holly McCann is a “stay-at-home” mom who rarely stays indoors and enjoys frequent adventures with her active two-year-old little man in Denver, Colorado where she currently resides and writes. Her love for language began when she started teaching English to high school students and continued when she pursued a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from The University of Denver. Nothing, however, could fully prepare her for the challenges and true bliss that motherhood brings her way every day. It takes her to a different level as a person and inspires her to write and then write some more. She believes in the power of kindness and is a self-professed realist. Holly credits her inspiration to those around her, especially her fluffy cats. You can find more of Holly’s writing on her blog at www.wateringthevines.com; follow her on Facebook at Watering The Vines, or catch her on Twitter @WateringVines.