A few Facebook messages. Multiple texts sent. In return, I received one curt reply, and silence. Clearly the friendship was over, or perhaps it never existed.
Over the past few weeks, as I’ve transitioned to a new company and said goodbye to the organization where I grew my career for 15 years, I’ve been reminded friendships can fade.
Sure, some friends will last a lifetime. But most are formed and kept out of convenience. For working moms, those friendships take the shape of hallway conversations, quick coffee and lunch dates, and commiserating between meetings. You find camaraderie in discussing the stresses of morning drop-offs and after-school activities, breastfeeding and meal prep. You might secretly bitch about the boss with the stay-at-home spouse who can easily travel and power through assignments late into night, or you might dish about cute clothes and relishing the evening glass of wine.
But what happens when those encounters don’t become so easy? When you can no longer catch one another in the stairwell?
Well, the truest of friendships survive, and others become memories.
Having worked with some of the same individuals for seven, eight, 10-plus years, it was comforting to have work friends who knew my story. Many of my colleagues saw me pre-kids, and then witnessed my life change with one, two, and then three kids. They knew my commute woes, my hobbies, the passions of my kids, the support of my spouse, the whacky habits and idiosyncracies of my life.
I thought many of these friendships would survive, but I can already see a few distinguished. I can try to reach out and keep in touch with the individuals I cared for most, but I can tell with one “friend” in particular our season has passed. Maybe she is too busy with kids and career – I can certainly relate – or maybe we were never as tight as I thought. Regardless, the lack of response has signaled to me it is time to move on. I’ll mourn the loss, and recognize convenience was our connector.
On the flip side, I feel quite blessed to have a handful of former colleagues I will know forever. Already, we’ve called and texted and scheduled plans to meet. I can count those friendships on one hand. We’ll always be there for one another – no matter where we work. Other individuals will be great professional contacts, calling upon one another for networking and guidance.
I’ve certainly seen this cycle in motherhood. The moms I once gossiped with at Gymboree have moved on, the sideline moms revolve each season depending on the team, and new moms enter the picture as my kids engage in different activities. The chapter on mom friendships in Lose the Cape was my favorite to write, and while we touched on “breaking up” with mom friends, the lack of courtesy and silence from this former colleague touched a nerve. I feel a bit raw, and sad the friendship might have meant more to me than her.
I wish people were better, nicer, more adult when it comes to saying goodbye, but maybe there is no easy way to say farewell. So I’ll cherish the fun we had, and embrace the “forever friends.” It’s good to know who to invest in, and who to let go. And I’m certain there will be new friends in my future.
Have you ever had to break-up with work friends?
Do you find work friends fade when the convenience of the office is gone?
image courtesy of canadianbusiness.com