I am somehow, miraculously, at a point of my recovering from infertility process where I can provide genuine comfort for my stressed out and/or sad friends that are parents. It's fine that I wasn't at this point before, and it's nice that I am at this point now. Just to state the simple and obvious, I like being able to be a good friend to my friends.
Remember this guy, my young friend from graduate school? One of the many reasons we became friends was because we both planned on moving our families to the same state after graduation. (At the time, his family of three and my family of two)
So we got through school together and we both moved and we are still in touch and, although we live many hours apart, we are still friends. But things change as life goes on. I got divorced while he and his wife had a second child. We text occasionally about work or just check in with how are you and your loved ones doing, that sort of thing.
I appreciate the friendship so I was glad when he reached out the other day when he needed a friend. It turns out that he and his wife are going through a rough spot. They both know it, but they don't know what to do about it. Bless my young, male friend as I reminded him... Your wife just had a baby!!! (Exclamation marks for emphasis among us. I did not text him exclamation marks.)
But seriously... They both work full-time. His wife is a teacher and just had a baby. We are going through a pandemic. They just bought a house. We are going through a pandemic. They have a toddler and a newborn. We are going through a pandemic. I texted him, "You do realize how many major stressors you both have in your life right now, right? Please allow me to validate HOW HARD this time period is. As my friends, my hope for you both is that you go easier on yourselves and on each other. Life is not normal right now."
I empathize with parents. It's a 24/7, no-instruction-manual job. Yes, it's a job I wanted and a job I didn't get to have and a job that would have been so freaking awesome for me for so many reasons, but I will still acknowledge that parenting is a hard job too. And it's also hard to see things when you're in the thick of it all, at least it is for me. This time period in my friend's life? It will be gone in a couple of years and it will feel like a blink of his eyes. But that's not what he's experiencing right now. Right now it is freaking hard and he is doing the best he can and that's what I can validate for my friend. (I also asked him what he and his wife are doing for fun these days, no matter how small, because it's crucial to enjoy the little things especially right now.)
Then I had an awesome, awesome phone conversation with a girlfriend yesterday. I don't do it often like we all used to back in the day, and it felt so good to talk to a friend on the phone. She's a co-worker from my job last year and she's just a really cool, really wonderful person.
We had a lot to catch up on. She had several pieces of good news to share, which felt So Good to hear good news from someone. Her job was going well. She was working hard toward a certification that she finished and earned. She's going through some medical stuff, but she found new doctors that she likes and trusts so that's awesome. It was all just so nice to hear.
I shared with her how happy I was in my new place, how I liked the actual geographic location. It's so pretty and I finally got away from traffic in my life. I told her I was still totally in love with my boyfriend, that we made the whole Thanksgiving meal, and that we laugh a lot. She said you know you're with the right person when you can be at home all the time with them during this pandemic and you still like them.
That prompted me to share how relieved I have felt throughout the whole pandemic for getting divorced when I did. I told her that I knew I'd be so lonely and wouldn't have the warmth that I have in my life now if I hadn't gone through with all of that. Unfortunately, that's when she shared that things were not good with her marriage. I listened and noticed how much of what she said sounded like my marriage during the last couple of years. I told her that I felt like I could understand because so much of what she was saying sounded so familiar.
Then she said, "At least you didn't have kids with him." And I wasn't even mad. It's interesting to me who can say what to me and how it makes me feel. I didn't feel slighted by my friend. She has listened to me talk about how badly I wanted kids. She knows I wanted to be a mother more than anything and that I've recreated my life in the last several years. But she's right, at least in my opinion. And I said, "I agree. I think by not having kids I just sped up the divorce by 18 years. I knew what I was signing up for. I knew I'd be with the kids all the time and he would join us once a week because I told him to. I just wanted it anyway. I wanted kids so bad." She listened and I felt understood. And then we went back to talking about her current situation and I listened and I hope she felt understood/accepted/supported.
I didn't sleep very well last night. And that says something. I'm proud of my sleeping ability haha. I woke up in the middle of the night so angry with my employer and I was like, Whoa, I am awake in the middle of the night because of this... So I was lying there, listening to my boyfriend's breathing, keeping my eyes closed even though it was pitch black, and trying to redirect my thoughts to other topics since I was awake.
And I thought about talking to my girlfriend yesterday. And my other friend a week or two ago. And I love these people. And I'm glad I could be there to listen to them, even though they were both talking about their children/stresses of parenting. I am glad I am moving toward being able to be the kind of friend that I want to be.
Oh! In addition, I just remembered right now that I texted my two best friends from high school to ask how their Thanksgiving went. They both texted back pictures of their kids. And it was cool. I was happy to see those pictures. And I can't believe it's already been 2.5 years since I have seen them.
So yeah, something that was important to me—being able to be a friend by being able to genuinely listen to and support my friends when they're not having the easiest time parenting—is happening. I celebrate that.