The Eras of Friendship Through a Mother’s Eyes


Friends chatting in front of a school and bus.Recently, I went away for a night with two girlfriends. It was a last-minute trip, planned one week before we went away.

One of the girlfriends I have known since elementary school. We became close around age ten. We were always in each other’s orbit, but there were pockets of time during adolescence and our mid-twenties when we needed to, in Friends lingo, “take a break.”

Even in those months of separation, we never wished ill upon each other. We always found a way to rekindle our friendship and acknowledge what had contributed to our past disagreements. We have always been honest with each other and our emotions. We navigated through it all on our own, without our mothers intervening.

I share this background of our relationship because, right now, I’m equally fascinated by and proud of my eldest daughter and her group of girlfriends.

Part of being a mother is watching your child navigate social interactions and wondering how much you should intervene.

The questions and worries pile up when your child enters middle school, a stage of life you remember as the apex of social awkwardness. And yet, it is also the threshold you cross to gain more independence and responsibility.

A first cell phone or smartwatch adds another layer of complexity. Or so I presumed.

Instead, I’m watching my eldest daughter navigate social interactions with ease. And I truly believe it is because of her circle of friends.

I can see and verbalize what makes their friendship so strong.
There is an absence of drama.
There is a surplus of acceptance and encouragement.
They are honest in ways that lift each other up.

When my daughter arrived at their first dance, her friends ushered her into the bathroom to fix her uneven blush.
When the cast list was posted for their first play, they were so happy for each other, excitedly telling their moms which part each friend got.
There was no reason to be jealous. They would rock that stage together.

They attend each others’ events, cheering wildly.
They help each other with homework.
They walk each other home and already understand the loyal logic of “I got you this time, you’ll get me next time” when someone doesn’t have cash for the ice cream truck.
They invite each other into group chats and send “get well” and “good luck” texts when someone is sick or nervous.

I know (and hang out with) some of their moms, and some of us are in our own group chat, where we regularly send affirming messages about our girls’ bond.
We do not need to intervene because they know how to be good friends.

They are only 11-year-old sixth graders now. They are innocent and sweet. They are swooning over the latest Taylor Swift track release instead of gossiping about crushes.

I see myself and my childhood friend in them, and I have faith that they will be fine.

Even if their current strong foundation fissures in the future, I am not overly worried.
Tears may be shed, arguments may be fought, and “breaks” may be needed.
But a mother always knows best. In those times of need, I will intervene.

I will tell my daughter the stories of my thirty-plus-year friendship with the girl I knew I could always be honest with. I will tell my daughter about how our sleepovers in middle school were quite similar to our sleepovers in adulthood. We threw a bag together at the last minute and had the best night. We may have even found Taylor together in our adult era.

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Maria F
Maria F. is a high school English teacher who naturally finds herself reflecting upon the routine and randomness that accompany each day as a working mommy. She relies upon humor and some sort of chocolate or frozen treat as survival tactics. She and her husband live in East Norwalk with their three kids, Abbie (2012), Charlie (2014), and Phoebe (2018). You can find Maria F. driving in her beloved dream car, a minivan, listening to audiobooks during her commute, or playing DJ and climate controller when she’s shuttling her kids around town. Forever a sorority girl and Ohio State Buckeye, she will (almost) always choose socializing over chilling on the couch.


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