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Women make friends at three times in their lives — when they go to school, when they go to work and when they have children — I once read. Now that I’ve been through all that, it seems about right.
Coincidentally, this month marked the 24th anniversary of the day I made my best and oldest friend. It was the first day of fifth grade at Beechgrove Elementary School in Kenton County and the seat beside Amy Richerson was empty. That little twist of fate set a long path for 10-year-old me.
Over the years, we bonded with a couple more girls and everyone adopted Amy’s little sister as their own. We shared the typical kid stuff, proms and spring breaks, broken teenage hearts and even a few homework assignments. We shared the grown up stuff, too, weddings, a divorce, housewarmings, baby showers, a brother’s funeral, a father’s funeral and the near arrangement of an ex-boyfriend’s funeral.
I stood back and appreciated those friendships often during a vacation we took to celebrate our 30th birthdays. It was very amusing how, years later, we still are like one person.
And then, there are the work friends. You have your work in common and that often means there’s some shared interest, even passion. Plus, you spend hours and hours together so you’re bound to find some buddies. Those buddies bring the new perspective, camaraderie and support you need to get through special projects, deadlines and, in the case of journalists, working through election night.
The friend-making times overlap when, for example, your coworkers have children. About five years ago, the baby bug swept through The News-Enterprise newsroom. In about a year’s time, former features editor Holly Tabor, former newsroom employee Jaime Thomas, who writes Motherhood and More for our Wednesday’s Woman page, and I had babies. And then we all had one more.
We catch up every now and then at whole-family play dates. Perhaps it’s the preexisting friendships, but we’re comfortable enough to share our successes and colossal failures, be they from the workplace or the home front. It’s healthy and fun.
If my children never left the house, these would be my only friends. But my sons give me great reasons to get to know new people.
Making new friends is awkward for some adults. Maybe we’re too private or too concerned about invading someone else’s privacy. Maybe we’re too judgmental or too afraid of rejection. But once you have children, you sort of get to act just like them. You get to walk up to anyone at their school or any parent in your neighborhood and basically say, “Hi. What’s your name?” And no one thinks you’re out of your mind.
I’m thankful my children have introduced me to some really interesting people.
As a child, you befriend people because you have fun being around them. When you’re a student, you tend to bond with people who are studying the same thing you are. At work, your friends might be more diverse, but still you’re in the same industry.
With kids in the picture, anything goes. I’ve met many who work in fields I know nothing about, are from cities I’ve never visited, have life experiences much different than my own and are involved in facets of the community that are new to me. And I think I’ll be meeting more soon as our family makes its first venture into organized sports.
Mostly, it’s making acquaintances, but friendships emerge over time. That’s the other thing about grown-ups and friendships, we take our time.
Sarah Berkshire can be reached at (270) 505-1745 or email@example.com.