When moms need a playdate – and can’t ever coordinate their schedules

margaritasIf you ever want to get a sense for how busy women (particularly moms) are, try and plan a gathering.

Here’s a quick summary of what happened when I tried to launch a casual, monthly lunchtime book group in Ann Arbor: on the first day we were scheduled to meet, the city declared a snow day, so many of us suddenly found ourselves housebound with kiddos; the night before our second meeting, Lily was up vomiting all night, so I postponed in order to nurse her back to health the next day; and after re-scheduling, all except one woman had work meetings, a sick kid, or was sick herself.

So is it any wonder that – for many of us now in the throes of parenting young kids – close, fulfilling friendships feel like a luxury of youth that we can no longer afford?

This is why, when reading a New York Times article titled, “Friends of a Certain Age: Why is it Hard to Make Friends Over 30?” I was nodding my head a lot.

“As external conditions change,” wrote Alex Williams, “it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.”

Indeed. So where does that leave us? Isolated and stressed.

And while I’d hardly describe myself as a “go getter,” I will say this: when I can’t find something I want – like, in this case, a regular gathering of smart, funny, empathetic women – I often do what I can to create it; and when others make this same kind of effort, I respond. Continue reading

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“Frozen” and my quest to cultivate sibling friendship

elsaandannaThis past weekend, while watching “Frozen” with Lily and a few of her friends, I sat in the darkened theater, hoping against hope that the “act of true love” needed to save the story’s spunky heroine would involve the young woman’s long-estranged sister instead of the male lead.

Well, wonder of wonders, folks. It DID. And I couldn’t have been happier.

Not just because “Frozen”’s creators deliberately chose to forgo the tired, predictable Prince Charming paradigm; but also because I’m currently doing my damnedest to cultivate a positive, enduring sense of closeness between my two young daughters.

And every narrative that underlines the idea that siblings matter, and are to be treasured, subtly advocates for my cause. Continue reading

Adequate mom, less-than-adequate gal pal

My best friend Kim dubbed me a film snob years ago, and she’s right. Much as I love movies, I won’t watch just anything; and if I dislike a film, I feel angry while the credits are rolling, because the movie wasted time I could have spent watching something good.

My friends and I wear cheaper clothes and less expensive hairstyles, but you get the idea.

So why would such a film snob be planning to dial up pay-per-view and order one of the most abysmally awful-looking, worst-reviewed movies of this past year (“Sex and the City 2”) the next time Joe is out of town for work, or has a nighttime obligation? Because no matter how terrible it is, the movie will allow me to enjoy, vicariously and for a little while, the feeling of being surrounded by girlfriends.

For most of my closest girlfriends are currently scattered across the country – Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Minnesota, Ohio – and although we e-mail fabulously dishy updates to each other now and then, the act of visiting each other has grown more difficult (which is to say, nearly impossible) as we’ve started families of our own.

Fortunately, we’re each pretty happy in our lives, and harbor no regrets about our choices; yet we’re all, I think, mourning the inevitable loss of the lovely, warm closeness that results from spending lots and lots of time together sharing meals, watching guilty pleasure TV shows and movies, celebrating accomplishments, and, of course, shopping. Continue reading