As a parent, I like being able to use material from my own personal experience to help my three children navigate life. I can teach them from my good decision, my less-than-good decisions, and my mistakes. My teenager has learned the importance of always carrying a cardigan, even in the summer; I spent too many grocery shopping experiences shivering through the dairy section. My son has learned the importance of sitting in a chair gracefully; I once put my entire posterior through the wicker back of a friend’s dining room chair.
Sometimes, though, they get to learn lessons I wish they didn’t have to learn; they are lessons I wish that I didn’t have to learn.
I moved to Canada in 1997 and have been trying to figure out who I am and where I fit for many years since then. My husband and I married when we were babies (figuratively, not literally) and were able to make some really wonderful decisions together. We made the decision to have our three children, to own three different houses, to work jobs doing things we love to do, and to make some great friends.
We had made a lovely little life for ourselves. It was nowhere near perfect; sometimes the kids didn’t sleep, and we stressed about have to write out tuition checks, and we lived in a house with a green carpet for far too long, and sometimes our commutes were just too long — but it was good. And by the time I reached my thirties I assumed that this was how our life was going to stay. The kids, the home, the job, the friends.
Until life got flipped, turned upside-down. My friend — my closest friend — broke up with me.
It followed a series of arguments and misinformation and assumptions over a separation (hers) and a bat mitzvah (mine — well, my daughter’s).
We argued. She saw things one way, which incidentally was full of inaccuracies and things she had decided were true. And I saw things one way, which, at the time, I felt was the right way to see things. We hit a stalemate, as friends sometimes do. Only while I had assumed this was something we’d argue over and then move past, she decided to cut off our friendship completely and hasn’t spoken to me since.
So here I was, blindsided, shocked, surprised, angry, sad. Broken up with.
I emotionally ate, then I lost 10 pounds. It was the topic of conversation throughout our entire community — even though the only thing I didn’t want to do was talk about it. I missed her, my kids missed her kids, and I missed the comfort and consistency of a friendship I thought would last forever.
I have since picked up the pieces of this. I still miss her, and I still really miss her kids. But I no longer need that friendship in the way I so desperately thought I did. I no longer hope she’ll come to her senses and realize that breaking up with me was a big mistake, I no longer send her an email before Yom Kippur, apologizing for how all of this happened, how it went down.
I have learned some tools to teach my children. I can teach them that Love Story was not always right and that it’s important to apologize, but that they don’t always have to be the only one to say sorry — sometimes it’s good to stand up for what you believe to be right. I can teach them that friends do come and go, even the ones you think will be there forever. I can teach them about forgiveness. I can teach them about sensitivity.
I wish a lifetime of happiness for my former friend. And I really wish I didn’t have this particular lesson to teach my kids. I’d much rather stick to cardigans and chairs.