Before my daughter started school, I prayed (literally, said prayers) that she would find her way socially with ease and joy. “Please let her be like her father– easy-going, adaptable, friendly, confident.” When I got really desperate, I begged God to spare her the dark sides of my personality and keep her from being too insecure, desperate, dramatic, histrionic, low self-esteemy.
I was pleased when my prayers were answered and she seemed to be “in the flow” socially and found a great group of friends. Actually, she found two best friends, darling little girls who share her abiding love of coloring and exercising executive leadership skills.
Two. There’s two of them. And you know what that means, right?
My daughter’s in a friendship triangle. Kindergarteners, ya’ll. Already I’m having to navigate my daughter (and myself) through the gauntlet of a threesome. Someone’s always left out. When it’s my kid, we spend the ride home talking about how unfair it is that she’s stuck with me while her two other friends are together, having great adventures WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER. When my kid is on the upside of the friendship seesaw, I breath a tenuous sigh of relief. Because it’s only a matter of time before she’s crying again. Left out again.
Friendship’s hard, ya’ll.
It’s been massively triggering. It brings up every relic of my own friendship triangles, a configuration I carried into my 30’s. It’s been an opportunity to look back at my own past, relive some hurts and ultimately heal. I like to think that revisiting my own friendship struggles will help my daughter work through her own feelings. I found that engraved into my cells is the exhausting experience of trying to keep up with two other friends. Trying to be sure I’m still “in.” Scrambling, chasing, clawing at every opportunity to keep a toehold in the relationship.
I don’t want this for either of my kids. I realize there is no way to spare them their own experiences, but God, I sure want to. How much is it going to suck when one day she comes home with a heartbreak over a friendship’s end? It’s going to happen. Even when it’s for the best, it hurts in a way that’s as deep as death and as immediate as a broken bone.
But then again, it’s the failed friendships that taught me what I most value in friends: humor, emotional availability, loyalty, honesty.
When the day comes that either of my kids arrives at the Heartbreak Hotel– Friendship Edition, I’m going to hand them this book. It’s written by women who survived and thrived through the vicissitudes of relationships with friends. These authors survived and so will my kids.
Order the book: My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends by clicking here.