Vail Daily Column: Girlfriends keep life balanced
July 26, 2010
Most of my friends throughout my life have been men. I love how steady and sane men are, and I share their love of watching sports on TV, particularly any program that begins with my three favorite letters – N.F.L. Men are steadfast and have a unique ability to pick up where they left off in relationships. Self-help books could be written about the lack of drama they allow to infiltrate their lives. They know how to change a flat tire and they tell you ‘you look great’ when you don’t. Men are smart cookies.
However, women are the ones who make friends standing in grocery lines. It’s the ladies who show up on your doorstep with unsolicited casseroles when they hear someone in your family is ill. They adore romantic comedies and they tell you there’s a piece of cilantro in your teeth.
I recently was in the ladies’ room at a lovely restaurant and mentioned to another woman that I had a horrible headache, in hopes she had a spare Advil. She offered me everything from her favorite lip-gloss to her valium to her foolproof sleep mantra, passed on from a guru she met while traveling in India. Her bottomless handbag was like Mary Poppins’ as she pulled out every manner of help item.
I survived the Big Eighties (big hair, big shoulder pads, big disco balls) with mostly guy friends, but I’ve always had a strong go-to girlfriend in my life. Especially as I’ve gotten older, girlfriends have become increasingly important to me.-
Since I believe the secret to happiness is balance – and because I have a daughter – I want to demonstrate how to be a good girlfriend. I’ve tried to show my kids that every part of your life is like a spoke on a wheel: family, self, work, education, friends, etc. If one of the spokes gets forgotten, or if the alternative takes over, your life doesn’t roll along smoothly. Female friendships are an important spoke that often gets out of balance as women grow older due to a multitude of other, seemingly more pressing, priorities.
Lisa Kogan says women “know how to raise hell and know how to raise children.” I love this description; we are such a complex bunch.
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Last winter I had pneumonia. I’m sure it’s because my husband kept gently insisting I see a doctor, but I continually refused. I think I said something enviably mature like, “You’re not the boss of me,” and put it off another day. When one of my girlfriends suggested I looked like a vampire and sounded like a foghorn, I went.
When my youngest son was injured, my girlfriends, my mom and my sister are the ones who cried with me and for me, who understood my helplessness, talked me into leaving his ICU room for a bathroom break, bought me coffee and brought me clean sweatpants. The love of those women was a tangible thing.
My daughter is fortunate enough to have some good girlfriends. This says a lot since girls at that age (15) can honestly be somewhat (how can I say it kindly?) petty, jealous and mean. Juggling academics, athletics, family, friends etc., is just as difficult at her age as it is later, but women at every age need to allow themselves the indulgence of time with ladies – keeping that wheel steady. Men are spectacular, but female friends are really a breath of fresh air.-
Women are most beautiful when they take time to renew themselves. I want my children to see me exercising, eating right, dating my husband, spending loads of time with my kids and also reserving occasions for myself and my friendships.
I love men – who else could I watch the Masters with? But I’ve looked to women for a lot more than sharing recipes. Women hold each other’s hands and hold each other accountable.-
I love Dave Barry’s quote about the differences between men and women. “If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.”
Jill Marchione Papangelis is a freelance writer and mother of four. She lives in Edwards with her family. Send column suggestions or comments firstname.lastname@example.org.