My earliest memory of a play date with a girlfriend involves mud and used aluminum pie tins. We spent a whole afternoon in her parents’ tool shed, serving up our muddy delicacies to various dolls and stuffed animals. Around that same time in my life, my parents played in a bowling league. Do people even still do that anymore? Every week, they’d drop me off at the bowling alley’s playroom, where I’d meet up with Katie and Carrie. We had a weekly meeting, and it took high priority in our young lives.
Over the years, my friendships took on different forms, but they’ve remained just as fun and important. In elementary school, my friends changed a bit based on who I had in my class. We rode the bus together, swapped notes at recess, met up for play dates, traded stuffed animals and Garbage Patch cards.
I started to notice something about my friends. They made me feel good. We laughed a lot, and together we used our imaginations. They weren’t busy like my parents could be, and I didn’t annoy them like I did my brothers. We could play games like Yahtzee and Life for hours. I enjoyed playing Barbies and Cabbage Patch dolls with them. Girlfriend time was fun.
Upon entering junior high, things got a bit more complicated, because, boys and such. I discovered having girlfriends comes with unspoken rules of conduct. Loyal girlfriends are best, and for the most part, they would not talk about you behind your back. Tween friendships would often come and go and come back again, all in the same day. Friends don’t steal one another’s boyfriends, or crushes depending on the commitment level at any given time. Junior high friendships had their ups and downs, but I’m mostly friends with these same girls today, thanks to Facebook.
A serious boyfriend puts a serious time restraint on girlfriend time, but seriously, it shouldn’t. I met one of my dearest friends in high school. Looking back, my time spent with her was likely better spent than any time we invested in boyfriends. In fact, when I turned forty, I celebrated by traveling to Vegas with my mom and my BFF from high school. We’re not big gamblers, but we had a fine meal at Giada deLaurentis’ restaurant, even getting a chance to take our picture with her. We caught a show, did a lot of people watching, and spent time soaking up the sun. I haven’t lived in my hometown for years, and it did my heart so much good to spend a few days recalling people we all knew, and retelling the old stories. I’m thankful for friends who live miles away, yet we always pick up right where we left off when we do see each other.
Yes, I would certainly call my mom one of my girlfriends. I have other family members who remain friends too. The women I would trust with just about any secret I have also share strands of my DNA. Growing up, we spent holidays together, and plenty of sleepovers too. It seems worth mentioning these ladies can also sing the words to most Statler Brothers and Diamond Rio songs. People I can trust.
I’ve been married for almost fifteen years, and the girlfriends in my life still play a huge role. One weekend not long ago, on back to back evenings, I talked with some women about when and how I should discuss puberty, deodorant and bras, etc. with my fourth grader. My husband and I have these conversations too, but not in the same way I do with my girlfriends. I want someone other than my mother for this one as well, because it’s been years since we went through this stage of life together. I need my girlfriends for this one. I’m confident we all walked away from these conversations with some tried and true tips.
From time to time, I talk with women who admit they don’t have quality girlfriend time. One girl shared she felt uncomfortable around most of her girlfriends because she knew if they were together, and she got up to use the restroom or what have you, they’d end up talking about her behind her back. We’ve all had girlfriends who suck the life out of us, leaving us feeling worn out or beat up. Still other women admit they feel too “new” to a group or have a hard time reaching out because they are highly introverted.
Ladies, I don’t think we can afford to make excuses, no matter how legitimate they might seem, on this one. We need our girlfriends. Someone we can talk openly with, who makes us laugh and leaves us smiling. A kind soul who reminds us we are good company. Women who will share their stories about talking to daughters about boys and puberty and finding good girlfriends of their own. We’re not too busy. We can’t be. Without girlfriend time, the other areas of our lives will suffer. What are you waiting for? Call your girlfriend right now.