Let us not be so fooled. We need other women if we are to work more efficiently, worry less and stay healthier. Find me a mother that doesn’t harbor a silent fear of being alone one day and there you’ll find a woman who doesn’t need more friends. But she just isn’t out there. Why?
Mothers are by nature relational creatures. We thrive on loving and being loved, talking and listening, seeing and being seen. Some of us have our relational needs met through our families. Others try through work, others in romantic relationships and marriage. And these are extremely important, but they don’t full satisfy our relational needs because the others in the relationship are too dissimilar from us. Husbands can’t be everything to us and certainly our children shouldn’t be. Coworkers may be able to double as confidants, but the nature of work adds competition and strain, which can damage good friendships.
Some of us are lonely, especially when our kids are little, because we don’t have time for friends. We want them and sometimes physically ache to spend time with friends, but nap times, carpools, or job schedules preclude time with them. Other times, particularly if loneliness sets in over a long time, lack of friendship prompts us to ponder deeper questions about ourselves. Loneliness begets loneliness and pretty soon we sink into a deeper belief that life is probably better lived by ourselves in our won muddy mix of frustration, disorganization, or compulsions. With all the pain Mother Teresa witnessed during her life, she counted loneliness as the worst. She said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.”
So we must fight loneliness fiercely. Friends are a necessity, not a luxury. Like my friend Marie, your true friend will be the one who cook food for your family when you are sick, drive carpool when your car runs out of radiator fluid, throw baby showers for your kids, still see you as gorgeous when you can’t lose the extra sixty pounds after baby number three, join Weight Watchers when she doesn’t need to be on a diet but you do, help plan your father’s funeral, and maybe, just maybe plan yours. She is your best friend and will never let you drop into the deep chasm of loneliness. Nothing about her friendship is expendable.
Meg Meeker MD
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