As women, we are many things.
We play many roles.
We wear many hats.
First and foremost, we are daughters - the initial relationship we formulated.
Sometimes, we become sisters.
As we flourish and evolve and connect with other girls – just like us – we meet, then become friends.
If we are fortunate, we remain friends for awhile – a school year or two. If we are exceptionally lucky, we become FFL – Friends For Life.
Personally speaking, I am exceptionally lucky. My friendship cup runneth over.
Many, but not all, of the women whom I call friend, I have known since the fall of 1979 – the year junior high school began – notoriously, a tumultuous time in a young girl’s life. Seems if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere.
With this collection of girls-to-women, we have celebrated teenage-hood, Sweet 16, 18, Legal 21, 25, 29 (some of us stopped here – you know who you are!) 30, 35, 39, 40…
Together, through the years we’ve seen it all, every side of every situation; graduations, marriages, divorces, birth of children, death of parents or grandparents. We’ve had “fat-parties,” shared terrific belly-laughs, cried endless tears, dispensed our deepest secrets, wondered about breast implants and vaginal rejuvenation (?) and supported each other, even when uncertain of the outcome.
Thankfully, we’ve narrowly escaped some very harrowing events and mostly avoided serious conflict.
We openly discuss everything from the conflict of a family bed (not one of us was allowed to sleep in our parents bed, and few of us allowed the same with our children) to the fact we’ve never appreciated the skill of “opening our throats” to property chug beer from a bong.
Not all memories are pleasant or worth repeating. Neither are the fashion missteps. No names needed.
But mostly, as we continue to move forward in our lives (a graceful term for ”getting older”) we have learned how blessed we are.
For all that we are, there is power in knowing what we are not. Clearly we are not our mother’s generation. We are not stoic. We are not shy about discussing our bodies. We are not afraid to speak out for causes in which we believe, and we are not worried about disagreeing – usually with each other.
We are not afraid to share our emotions. We know our mothers loved us, they just weren’t forthcoming in sharing that intimate emotion. We are tragically aware that as ”prisoners of their generation,” public displays of love were not socially acceptable. Which promotes us to make certain to hug our children openly, and tell them, along with each other “I love you” as easily as we say hello or goodbye.
Seems we share more than friendship. We also share the inexplicable bond of what it means to become a woman, and surprisingly, we learn more about each other with every passing year.
Most recently, we discovered not one of us ever formally discussed sex, drinking, drugs or the impending “cycle of life” with our mothers. Yet, we all pledge to include those fateful life-discussions with our daughters (and sons!) so when the inevitable arises, they don’t have to wonder how to broach the subject with us.
Personally, I recounted the calamitous day in my own history when Mother Nature paid my womanhood a visit. I was so fretful and embarrassed, and had no idea what to do. I was forced to leave a note for my mother – somewhere private, where no one else would find it – on the front seat of her car!
Another friend shared that nearing her one year anniversary of said “blessing,” her mother noticed her spoiled undergarment, and said simply, “Oh honey, look!”
As we shared these recent findings, there was laughter, and knowing looks all around.
We are strong, yet we have a tender side. We are powerful, yet insecurity still rises up to meet our gaze.
And nothing stands in the way of our pledge to carve out sacred time - ”Girl’s Night,” non-canceled “Ladies Night,” Tours of Homes, or whenever we can coordinate a ”Girl’s Only Weekend” – where frolicking, gossiping and general mayhem occurs freely and without judgment.
It’s also comforting to know that on rare occasions, when two girls meet, there is no common thread. In fact, there is pure disdain. Yet, somewhere along the way, when those two girls become women, and look at each other for the first time, and really see the person inside – a unexpected and joyous friendship develops.
As women, we are many things.
We are daughters.
We are sisters.
We are wives.
We are mothers.
We are colleagues.
We are friends.
To the smart, powerful, charming and loving women in my life – from 1979 until now - I simply can’t imagine a life without you.
You make my life a well-balanced, happy and secure place from which I have the ability and the means to continue this crazy and harried journey.
And because of you, I am the woman I am today.
For that, I thank you.