How many times have I said to myself, “What would I have done different, had I known then then what I know now.” It’s a question that’s impossible to answer, yet I ask it several times a day.
I imagine that many people do too, with respect to raising their children. Education. Financial decisions and planning. The list goes on and on. The point is that with age comes experience and with experience, wisdom. We didn’t know then what we know now. Period.
It took me a rather long time to re-learn the value of having my own friends. I used to know how to do that. Then I got married, and after that I had children. We parents can become so immersed in our children’s lives that we let our “old” friendships fall by the wayside. Our new friends are often the parents of our children’s friends, or they might be co-workers or “the other” room mom. It just makes sense; if your children played any sport at all, you were the one shuttling them back and forth, sitting through practices and games, and sitting in the stands with other parents who were doing the same things. You all had one thing in common right off the bat: your kids played a sport.
I am of the personal belief that a married woman’s close friends should be women, and a married man’s best friends ought to be men. Otherwise, we’re just asking for trouble. And I longed for girlfriends. I really missed having them, almost as much as I missed our girls when they moved out and away. But then I was reminded of yet another adage: “Ask, and ye shall receive.”
Right about the same time that I realized that I really wanted close, no-drama girlfriends, I began meeting them. Looking back, I understand that I began meeting them because I was looking to do just that. Through a series of circumstances, I drew closer to a woman whom I had known for years, as we both sat side-by-side covering Gwinnett city council meetings for different newspapers. Then I met another woman who has become a dear friend, through that woman. And another, and then another.
My inner circle has always been small; for me, that’s just where I’m comfortable. These women I’ve mentioned are all in that circle. I know that I could tell any of them my deepest, darkest secret, and that secret would go no further. I know that they get my sense of humor, and I get theirs. My heart breaks when theirs does; if I needed help, they’d help me. I would do the same for them. None of us ever brings silly, exasperating, mind-numbing drama to the table. And not one of us participates in gossip, which happens to be a very clear line I draw in the sand with respect to any relationships I have. As far as I’m concerned, gossip is the pastime of a petty and small-minded person, but perhaps that’s a topic for another day.
Come to think of it, maybe it isn’t a coincidence that I met these women. Maybe I met them by design, because I wanted women like that in my life. I prayed to have women like that in my life, and I’ve been around long enough to know that prayer explains an awful lot of coincidences.
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published April 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her other three books are MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA & EXHAUST; RED LIPSTICK & CLEAN UNDERWEAR; and SOUTHERN FRIED WHITE TRASH. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, children and the family. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.