Saying Goodbye To Friends

A couple of weeks ago my son had his last day at kindy. He’d been at that particular kindy for about 18 months, and in that time made some beautiful friendships. Over his last couple of days, The Mechanic and I tried to explain to him that he’s not going to see these friends every day any more, and that he needs to say good bye to them. Needless to say, he didn’t really get it. I guess that’s the benefit of being so young. It’s what makes kids so “resilient.”

I don’t really remember any of the kids I went to kindy with, except the ones that I then went on to big school with. It clearly didn’t ruin my life that I never saw them again, just as it won’t ruin his. It’s only as his parent, as an adult, that I feel that sense of loss when it comes to friendships, that I see what he stands to lose by not seeing these kids every day, what he will be missing out on. But I also know he is about to have opportunities to make new friendships. Possibly life-long ones. And I also can see that when goes a while without seeing other friends they can pick up right where they left off.

As we get older, letting go of friendships and making new ones is so difficult. It is hard to think that people we have invested so much time in, have invested so much of ourselves in, who know things about us that few (if any) others know might not be there for us one day. That at some point, we might not be as important to them as we thought we were, or as they are to us. Sometimes we are the ones moving on, sometimes we are the ones holding on. It’s hard to realise that life and circumstances sometimes change who and what is important to us. Not by choice, it just happens. And it’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way life goes.

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Maybe adults could learn from young kids and their friendships. We could learn that it’s ok to play, laugh, and be friends when we can, but it’s ok to take breaks, too. And if by chance we meet again, maybe we can pick up where we left off? Maybe we can learn to not be judgemental, to not take things personally, and to make new friends where possible or necessary? They do it all so easily. They do take things to heart at times, but they also forgive and forget quickly. Why do we make it so much harder as we get older? For kids it’s easy, if you want to play, we’ll play, if you don’t, that’s ok there’ll be someone else who will want to. But adults don’t see friendships like that.

We tend to form groups. Maybe it starts in high school, maybe it’s later in life. I’d say most people can group their friends into different parts of their lives. I have my high school girlfriends, my mothers group girlfriends, my big school mums girlfriends, my PT girlfriends, my college friends…I realise I am very lucky to have so many friends, but they’re obviously not all in my life on a daily basis. And if you move towns, or even suburbs, those group dynamics can change and finding a new group is not always easy. It’s like starting a new school, and you’re the new kid that no one is really quite sure of.

(Source)

I don’t really know where I am going with this blog post. It sorted of started as a simple observation of how the loss of friendships doesn’t affect (young) children, yet as adults if we lose a friend, for whatever reason, we worry about the why’s, the what did I do wrongs, the “what is wrong with me?”s. But I guess life just keeps moving, and sometimes we move through it together, sometimes we take different paths. And we have choices. Accept it and move on, make the effort to keep in touch (not any excuse these days with Facebook  Skype & the rest of social media!) or understand that just because we can’t see people every day like we did at school doesn’t mean you’re any less of a friend. That’s how it works for 5 year olds. Maybe it could work for 35 year olds, too?

 

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48 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye To Friends

  1. Friendship is a funny thing isn’t it? I watch how easily small people sidle up to each other and ‘make friends’ and compare it to how hard I find it to suggest a coffee date with someone I’ve just met and its polar opposite. I like to think I’m pretty likeable but it’s only been since having a baby 12 months ago that I’ve had any success making friends in this town we’ve lived in for three years.

    • Babies and kids definitely help to form friendships. N is certainly a big part of me becoming friends with some of my closest friends. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just see someone and say “hi, want to go have coffee?”

  2. I am no good at making friends. in 4 years I have made about 3 friends that I would invite over for coffee regularly. I am just not a very social person, in real life! Online I am just a hoot.. 😉

    Kidding.

    I have a few old school friend that it doesn’t matter how long between we talk to each other, it is always comfortable and normal.

    • I don’t think it’s about the quantity of friends, I think it’s about the quality. If you have 3 people you can have coffee with regularly, that’s great! My high school girlfriends are very much like that – we were actually separated for 11 years (I moved to the US) and many of us are closer now than we were then. I love that.

  3. It is harder as you get older there is always the incertainty will they like me?, what if they think I am stupid or weird, why would they like me (or is that just me). Since moving here I have realised if I don’t just get on with it I am never going to have any friends and make a life for myself here so I have to just jump on in there, rather like young kids really and just see what happens. So far so good thankfully. Like Jenn says, it is definitely easier when you have a child. I find I can bond over their shared naughtiness!!! x

    • Yep, motherhood gives you an instant “in” to connect with. I find faking it til you’re making it works, but it can take an awful lot of effort before you really connect with someone. It’s especially hard moving countries – I know! I was lucky I moved to the US to go to Uni so had a heap of potential friends right there. Some are still great friends today, but on the other side of the world.

  4. I totally get you with this post. You are right – children seem to manage it a lot more easily than we do. We have been here 13 years now and can count on my fingers the number of friends we have – I’d like to think it isn’t because we are horrible people, but rather because we are both shy about meeting new people, as we are each others best friend, it is easier to talk to each other rather than people we don’t know.
    HAve the best day and take care !
    Me

  5. It is hard when you realize someone you treasured as a friend doesn’t treasure you as much back. It was quite hard for me as a teen when I “lost” friends but after living on my own for so long and traveling between countries so much, it’s inevitable and I get that now. I’ve learnt to let go and really just concentrate my feelings on those that have stood by me through thick and thin.

  6. I think we have so much to learn from children. I am forever intrigues how children, so young, build and make friendships. And some of the best friendships are those formed so young. For me, true and honest friends are precious. People that uplift me. xx

    • You’re right, there is so much we can learn from children. I’m always amazed at how you can tell your child off, but 3 seconds later they’re hugging you and loving you, and they forgive so quickly your outburst. When we get told off we hold a gruge against that person for a long time!

  7. You are so lucky to have all those friends, having just moved here 7 years ago it hasn’t been an easy road to meeting people I get on with well. I thankfully do have a small but genuine collection of friends, and then a larger, see you every now and them friends – and your image is right – it’s nice to be able to pick up where we last left off, that’s a sign of a good friendship I reckon. x

  8. Friendship should be comfortable and easy but as adults it can become tricky. I have recently lost a friend and find that there is a gap where she used to fit.
    Your post is lovely 🙂

    • I found all my high school girlfriends through FB! I had lived in the US for 11 years, moved home and looked them up. Now several of them are my very best friends! Thank God for Facebook I say!!

  9. This post is very timely. I’ve been having a bit of a ponder lately about friendships and lifespans and beginnings and endings. You are so right, if only we could approach it like 5 yr olds, if only we could NOT take it personally… if only.

    • If only we could do a lot of things like 5 year olds! Like not worry about anything, laugh at everything, and be happy with nothing! I really do think everyone comes into your life for a reason, and sometimes friendships have expiry dates. How can they not? We are always changing and growing, and we can’t always change and grow in the same direction.

    • I think they’re easy to be taken advantage of at times. But certainly should be treasured. It took me until my late 20s to realise the importance of girlfriends! I’d always hung out with the guys, was one of the boys, so to speak. I really treasure my girlfriends now!

      • Yeah, girlfriends are great. I went to girl’s school so had no choice 🙂 I finished my earlier comment before I meant to say that I kept in touch with good friends in letters, which I have kept, and now Facebook lets me keep in touch with so many more. You’re right, they can be easy to take for granted. x

  10. Friendships as an adult are hard, as I like to say: “they’ve got all of the work of a relationship without the promise of hot sex as a reward” although it should be said that the rewards are different but are still rewards, I miss having close girlfriends. My sister has one of those friends that has been with her through life, when they’re together it is like they have never parted and I envy that I have none from childhood that have survived past facebook, none that I treasure from adulthood live close either. But, we’ve only been back a couple of years and in that time friendships are slowly growing – the ‘dates’ are just further apart than they were when we were kids so it takes longer to form a bond.

  11. I often consider myself a terrible friend, because I don’t have any friendships I really need. In fact, it’s only just recently that I’ve made some friends that I want to see regularly. I’ve always been able to move on from friends, see when its natural and when its not, and do what’s necessary. I see a lot of that in my eldest too, and kind of worry about her, because she doesn’t have any close friends, and never has. She flits from friend to friend.
    I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Are we resilient or maybe just kind of cold? I don’t know. I do enjoy making friends.
    Now you have me thinking deep thoughts

    • Interesting, Jess! Maybe some people just don’t need friends? Maybe your family is enough? Maybe you just enjoy your own company? ha ha! I tell you what, friendships can be very hard work, so maybe you’re the lucky one? I wouldn’t worry about your daughter, I think she’ll get by just fine! I think it shows versatility to be able to flit from friend to friend.

  12. I’m lucky that I held onto some old friends from school, uni and work and have made some new ones along the way through the kids’ schools. I definitely think it’s more nerve-wracking to make friends as an adult, but I’m not entirely sure why… we do tend to over-complicate everything as adults, don’t we?

    • I think kids are just themselves. They’re not trying to be on their best behaviour, they don’t really know social expectations or niceties, they’re not worried about “akward silences” (b/c most of them can talk under water so it doesn’t happen!). And I think as adults we’re always thinking about the next thing we have to rush off to, and don’t truly make time for people.

  13. Friendships in adulthood are definitely harder! Recently a friend visited from the US, we had lived together for 6 months, but hadn’t seen each other in 9 years, when we got together it was like no time had past! I LOVE and hold dear my friendships like this, I know that no matter where we are in the world, when we see each other again it will be the same xx Karen

    • That’s great Karen! I have friends o/s who are the same. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed it’s like we’ve never been apart. I think that is the meaning of “true friendship”.

  14. hmm, interesting thoughts. To be honest I think I was more affected by losing my friends as I transitioned between schools, between states and in and out of different years. They were my lifeline. Nowadays I’m almost relaxed if someone drops off the radar as I have quite a few friends to keep in contact with but a close few who matter the most to me. Friendships are more complicated beasts though in adulthood that’s for sure!

    • I guess my post came from someone who never moved schools or states at all growing up. I can imagine that would have been tough and I know now that our son has started school, I want to stay here so he doesn’t have to go through that. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • he seems to make friends ok, so we’re very lucky that way! although him and his little friend at school have been sitting up the back chatting, and they now have to sit at the front. And it’s only the second week! ha!

  15. i lost several friends over the years and exactly like you wrote i wondered what i did wrong etc. I finally had to accept that it was just not meant to last forever… – deb xx

    • I know I’ve lost touched with people over the years and it hasn’t been the fault of either of us – they certainly have done nothing wrong, I had no problem with them, it was just circumstance, really. I guess unless you ask them you never really know?

  16. I have a deep loss for the loss of some of my friends from the past. I hope it doesn’t transfer to my son who only started pre-school yesterday.
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

    • I think girls/women tend to need their friends more? I might be wrong, or making a generalisation. I have seen little kids get upset by friends but they seem to just shake it off quicker, maybe?

  17. We certainly form “groups” at a very young age, I see it all the time as a teacher. But children often move between groups as they grow, change, develop new interests and do new things. As an adult I find it difficult to make new friends, and tend to focus on developing the friendships I currently have, rather than seeking out new ones. I think it is the “easy” or “safe” option, as I certainly have plenty of opportunities to make new friends. Hmmm… Now I’m just pondering….

    • I think it would be outside most people’s comfort zones to make new friends. Depending on the definition of friend. For ex. my son is in prep with a little boy he went to kindy with. I know the mum enough to talk to her at school while waiting for the boys, but I don’t know that I see us becoming friends outside of that. I guess it is better to have fewer good friends than lots of acquaintances. Nothing wrong with that.

  18. Friendships are tricky. By the time we have reached 25 year old adults we carry so much baggage are ability to have any perspective is quite clouded. Our own perspective because the only thing we can focus on. My friendships have really been tested ever since having our own house and having children. I once spent so much time consumed by the dynamics of it all. Now I realise that I have a choice. Let it be or do something about it. My son started school this year and the one thing I worry about most – not his academic ability – but is ability to make friends and lasting ones – its a vicious circle! xx

    • having children can certainly wreak havoc on friendships. sometimes because your friends don’t have kids so they don’t understand, or maybe you have a different number of kids so the dynamics are different, or maybe the kids don’t get along, etc. It’s all so tricky!

  19. I think about this exact thing for my eldest daughter a lot too, Aroha. One of her closest friends have left pre-school and some of the children in her pre-school class are now leaving for big school. She is aware of what’s going on but doesn’t seem to feel the sense of loss that I feel for her.

    I think about the distance, loss, separation of friendships a lot since I’ve become a parent and entered a different phase from several of my close friends who are childless. It really started before that though because I moved interstate and away from my friends and family networks many years earlier. I also seemed to make friends with people who also upped and moved interstate or overseas so I just don’t have a nearby close social network. I think that’s partly why blogging has been so attractive for me.

    I wrote a post along similar lines as yours a while ago which expressed the lessons I had to learn about letting go of my teenage best friend. It’s here if you are interested: http://mixedgems.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/friendship-learning-to-let-go/

    • It’s really hard when you move towns or friends move towns or states, or countries! We keep in touch with a lot of family and friends who are back in the US through facebook. But I feel like a lot of the friendships have faded. We thought there’d be several people who would come and visit us and 5.5 years later the only people who have been out here are Mike’s family and a childhood friend of his who had other friends out here to come visit also. It’s disappointing 😦

  20. I love this last quote and it’s so true isn’t it? Most of my friends are in Canada now and I do miss them lots but I realised that true friendship last. We talk often with Skype, we email each others, we keep in touch. When I see them again (when I go back to Canada) it’s as if we have seen each other the day before. Now, I find it difficult to make “true friends” . The one I have in Canada, I met them when I was so young. They know everything about me.

    • Those are the best kinds of friends. The ones who know everything about you and love you anyway 😉 And the ones you can pick up with like no time has passed at all. It is SO hard having them so far away though – I know, a lot of my closest friends are in the US!

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