By Kate Hayes
To begin this week’s post, I would just like to send out a big thank you to all the wonderful readers who commented on my last post, “Does Wanting to Work Make me a Selfish Mom?” Wow. I could feel the understanding and compassion (and the hugs) coming from every comment. And you gave me some great advice. I think you are right: the bottom line is that I have to do what is right for me and my family, no matter what anyone else may think. Then, I have to be confident in my decision (or at least portray confidence to my children). Some of you said that the guilt will always be there, no matter what I decide. I think that’s true. And instead of being guilty about the guilt, I think we should all just embrace it as a sign that we care deeply about the welfare of our children. That’s what I’m going to try to do! This past week, I have applied for four jobs, and I’m sure many more will follow. I will let you know what happens!
Over the weekend, I had a wonderful reminder of the benefits that a career can bring into a mommy’s life: friends. My friend Nancy, whom I met at my last job, flew from St. Louis to Boston to spend the weekend with me. She is also currently seven months pregnant. (Is that a sign of a true friend or what?)
I first met Nancy at her job interview, when I sat as one of the employees on her peer interview panel. I remember asking her only one question. She was being interviewed for a position that I felt was integral to the way I did my job, and I asked her how she felt about working closely together as a team. She was totally up for it. I voted for her to get the job.
Due to the lack of available office space, Nancy moved into my office for a while. It wasn’t a very big office, and the space was tight, but I didn’t mind. For one, it gave us the chance to start building a great working relationship, which helped us both to perform our roles better. For another thing, we were both pregnant. She was due only four weeks before I was. And we were both having boys. We had much to talk about.
The more time that Nancy and I spent together, the more we realized how much we had in common. We both had one older child, close to the same age. We are both candy-holics (especially while pregnant), and had drawers stashed full of sweets. We grew up just a few miles away from each other, and both spent four years in the same town away from “home” (where she went to college, and I worked as a journalist). And I think what bonded us more than anything else was the fact that we were at the same place in our lives, and as a result, understood each other very well.
Nancy and I both have lots of other friends. I dearly love the girls that I grew up with in grade school and high school, lived with in college, and met at other points in my life. But I just have a different kind of connection with Nancy. It’s not every day that you find a friend who is going through almost all of the same life experiences that you are at the same time. In Nancy, I found a woman with an equally demanding career, who understood the rigors of my job and what I did on a daily basis. That in itself is almost impossible to find in any friend outside of someone that you work with. I also found a woman who had a marriage similar to mine, and kids about the same age as mine, who completely understood the struggles, trials, joys, and successes of being a working mom. We faced many of the same challenges, both at work and at home. We talked about them, and helped each other through them. Sometimes I felt like just having Nancy as a sounding board helped to make me a better wife and mom. It soothed me to know that I wasn’t alone or crazy or just plain “doing it wrong.” We were in it together.
As time went by, Nancy and I were both promoted into bigger positions and offices. But we spent more and more time together outside of work. Our kids loved playing together. Our similar husbands liked each other so much that they would hang out together even when we weren’t around. At one point, I realized that I had found something that I didn’t even know that I was missing in my life: a best friend. Not a “husband” best friend, or a “sister” best friend, or a “friend I’ve had forever” best friend…but a “I just met you and I feel like I’ve always known you” kind of best friend. And I loved it.
When I found out that we were moving, Nancy and I cried. At one of our last family get-together nights, we sat on the floor in her kitchen and boo-hooed like little girls. It was just too sad…to finally find a friend like that, and then have to leave her! Nancy’s awesome husband realized how hard it was on us both. Not long after we moved, he surprised her by buying her tickets to come see me. Then my husband, Kyle, watched my kids all afternoon on Saturday and Sunday so that we could go spend uninterrupted time together. God bless them both. We had a wonderful weekend! We went sightseeing, shopped, and relaxed. Mostly, we just enjoyed being in one another’s company again. And we talked about our next visits.
It’s so strange to think that three years ago, I had no idea who this person was. Now, I couldn’t imagine my life without her. I know that Nancy and I will stay in close touch, despite the distance that is currently between us. One key lesson that I have learned from this experience is that even though it’s easy to let our lives (outside of work) revolve around our kids and their play dates, mommies need friends too. In fact, I think we should all make a priority to allow ourselves the time to develop and nurture these kinds of relationships. When you have a friend who understands you, it makes you a better mommy…and a better person.
Do you have a friend like that?
Kate is a contributing writer for Mommy Moment. Kate is the proud mom of Anna and Kellen, two preschoolers who are starting to pick up all of her best habits: a passion for reading and exploring new places, an intense interest in organizing, and a total disregard for sleep. See what she has been up to over at www.adventuresinparenting.me
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