Who Needs Friends?
August 5, 2022 10:59 AM   Subscribe

My Mom has no friends. On the surface, the article is accurate, her mom has no friends. But if you ask me, the article is really a love letter from a daughter to her mother. An acknowledgement of how much she appreciates her mom now. Quite frankly, being born in NYC (and raised on LI), her mom sounds like a pisser. A pistol even at 80. During my divorced dating phase, I wish I had a date with someone wearing that brown leather skirt.
posted by JohnnyGunn (18 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
My mom is not as much fun as Veronica -- she probably doesn't know any Steely Dan songs, wears the same small gold necklace every day and is allergic to alcohol -- but she does have an incredible ability to make friends. She's moved several times throughout her adult life and each time, she has been able to amass a new group of people to spend time with. I'm always impressed by how willing and able she is to put herself out there and make new friends each time. I certainly don't and can't do that nearly as well. It's a really difficult thing to do at any age and I can only imagine that as you get older it doesn't get easier.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:15 AM on August 5 [5 favorites]

After my divorce, my biggest fear was growing old alone. I don't even particularly like people, just that it is lonely going through life alone. Just a spouse or gf is all I need, but having friends is special. Real friends. Ones you don't even have to ask for help, they just show up. I have always had a small group of really good friends. I am still friends with 6 HS buddies some 40 years later, still friends with about 5 college buddies, and have what we call the core four here in town.

Making friends is a skill. It takes time and patience. Some people like Veronica and jacquilynne's mom just know how to do it. I suspect they are persistent and work at it. Like fishing, keep trying and throwing back the under sized ones until you meet the right soul.

My mom seemingly had a bunch of good friends. When she got divorced in the 70s, she found out who her "real" friends were. There were some lonely years right after the divorce and as a teen, I was conflicted between feeling sorry for her and focusing on my own life. As my mom got older, we became friends. Once she moved out of my childhood home and I was no longer feeling like a 16 yo whenever I visited well into my early 30s, we sort of bonded more as peers. Maybe it was having kids myself.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:50 AM on August 5 [7 favorites]

Almost all my friends passed away during the 80s and 90s...aids related...some from substance abuse I suspect. They and I were in our 40s...Since then I relocated away from NYC to a new city in Florida. I had a new different 18 years there. Made few friends...but had many acquaintances...Then I retired to my hometown to homecare an I'll brother. Still hadn't made many new friends...but again some new acquantences And some great neighbors. I don't think I'll ever meet folks like my tribe in NYC again....But the memories are good and keep me going.
posted by Czjewel at 11:59 AM on August 5 [19 favorites]

JohnnyGunn, this is damn delightful. Thank you!

We unfairly expect our mothers to remain as we imagined them as kids. Now, both of us older and myself a mother, I can see how incomplete my definition of her was — and how much more of her there is to enjoy.

One of my few truly happy memories of my mother is how much she changed and relaxed when she visited with her two best friends. Maggie and Michelle would sit poolside while my mother sat on the step at the side of the water and the three of them would chat and laugh, and when my mom would say something Michelle objected to, Michelle would make a "Pfffft" noise and jump in and do a lap or two. I was small, and paid no attention to the conversation, but what stays with me is how funny they all were, how much they laughed. (Years later, Maggie would tell me that my mother never discussed anything personal in their 30-year friendship, and I was stunned. They called each other! Went out to dinner together! Visited with one another! What the hell were they talking about, then? By contrast, my besties know a lot about me and I about them, because friendship is important, and that's what I thought I was seeing.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:22 PM on August 5 [10 favorites]

Thanks for posting, JohnnyGunn. The lady's so charming, even a known blot on the landscape like Nextdoor gains a little gloss.
And the granddaughter made her nan a "My Mom Has No Friends" sign with gold glitter for the first meet up! I like every generation in this family.
Next article: The total smoke show joins RentAFriend.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:40 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Delightful is right! Thanks for this post!
posted by sundrop at 4:42 PM on August 5

This is lovely. My mom is kind-of shy, which made it hard for her that she was expected to be the social director, while my gregarious dad was stuck doing work things. (Honestly the 80s were so heteronormative that I literally did not know my mom was shy and my dad was gregarious, because moms arranged social events and dads went to work and didn't have friends.) But she has a super-tight network of friends she made in her 30s and 40s -- mostly the moms of my sister's friends -- who all show up to each others' kids' weddings and who are all up in my business all the time. My bar application required something like 7 character references, and NONE of them could be relatives or law school classmates/professors, which is A HELL OF A LOT OF PEOPLE to know well enough to write a character reference when you've spent the last 3 years in law school and everyone you know is from law school. Those women were like five of them; they'd all known me since I was 8 years old and had hired me to babysit their kids and cheered me on through college and law school. (The other two were seminary classmates, because having "Rev. Jane Doe" looks super-great on your character-and-fitness form.)

They were totally up in my business even for the 16 years I lived elsewhere, but now that I'm back in my hometown I run into them in the grocery store and they're like "WHAT DID YOUR DOCTOR SAY ABOUT YOUR SUSPICIOUS MOLE? IS YOUR MOLE OKAY? YOUR MOM TOLD ME ABOUT YOUR MOLE! THE APPOINTMENT WAS THURSDAY, RIGHT?" And on the one hand it's like, Jesus Christ, I can't even go to the grocery store without people loudly asking intrusive questions. But on the other hand, it's like, "That is so great! Everywhere I go in town, someone wants to know that I'm doing okay!"

The library is particularly intense because both my mom and I are HUGE readers, so she was friends with the librarians, and I'll be checking out at the library with one of the older librarians and she'll be like, "DO YOU STILL LIKE DRAGON BOOKS? YOU LIKED DRAGON BOOKS SO MUCH, AND IT DROVE YOUR MOM SO CRAZY!" (It really did; she insisted I read a lot of classics and it drove her BANANAS that given my own choice I wanted to read about dragons and wizards, which she continues to think are kind-of a dumb thing to read about because they're not real, but I was the oldest and she 100% gave up on the "read the classics!" rule for my siblings.) And I'm like, "Um, yes, still pretty much 80% dragon books," and the older librarians put aside fantasy novels they think I might like because they knew me when I was 6 and they're just happy I'm back for more dragon books.

Anyway, moms having friends is great, because that's how you end up with half a dozen women in their 70s who know LITERALLY ALL OF YOUR BUSINESS and loudly ask you about it in the grocery store. It feels really good to be so seen!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:47 PM on August 5 [27 favorites]

This is a lovely story. I wish I had thought to do this for my dad after my mom died (nextdoor is still a thing?). Thanks for the post!
posted by bluesky43 at 6:10 PM on August 5

Is it unusual to have no friends? Asking for a… uh oh.
posted by thoroughburro at 8:31 PM on August 5 [18 favorites]

Social media wouldn’t work: She was banned from Facebook years ago for repeatedly lying about her age. made me chuckle.

I have opinions (especially as a young mum!) But nap time just ended. I hope to come back later.
posted by freethefeet at 9:02 PM on August 5

Anyway, moms having friends is great, because that's how you end up with half a dozen women in their 70s who know LITERALLY ALL OF YOUR BUSINESS and loudly ask you about it in the grocery store. It feels really good to be so seen!

Eyebrows McGee, the abstract image I hold of you includes broad and sound foundations. Now I see why.
posted by Thella at 2:01 AM on August 6 [2 favorites]

I liked the "I wanted to be friends with my mom" line because, after moving home for a year post-divorce, I got to make friends with my parents and to see my Dad as a person before his early exit to cancer at 67.

Long may she have the friendship of her mother and ... same for you all and the long-standing friends and family you know.
posted by k3ninho at 2:58 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]

My mom didn't really have any friends And she's having a ball. I'm worried about her health, but she's got friends and that's helped her quite a bit.
posted by Hactar at 5:27 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]

What a sweet article. I'm glad this is working out for her. I have a fondness for the kind of lady they call a "pistol."

I recently joined a site called HelloRevel, which is meant to foster friendships among women in "midlife." I personally am finding out that the events skew for an older, more affluent demographic than me, which is fine -- for a Veronica, I would certainly recommend it.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:58 AM on August 6 [1 favorite]

This is very uplifting. I moved recently and have been deeply feeling the loneliness of having no social circle. I need a new crew of "old broads"!
posted by medeine at 7:05 PM on August 6

This has all the things - justified worrying, appeal to sympathy/empathy (or some would say just statement of fact, especially for women/-identifying) that our generation currently tasked with being caretakers ‘wuz robbed’, amazement that social media could have a positive effect in the world… renews ones sense of faith in humanity. Thank goodness for happy endings!
I’m more worried for the political radicalization to come than anything else with my Mom, especially since we don’t talk enough for me to call her out on the fear-mongering our media can sell better than anything else (my Dad has a no-politics rule at the senior center he volunteers at/is cared for by). But the lifetime of volunteering at Planned Parenthood helps temper the worst concerns/possibilities.
posted by allisterb at 5:53 AM on August 7

This was a great read and is giving me a lot to think about, both about myself and also my mother (younger than 80 but also widowed in 2020). Thanks for posting it.
posted by Mchelly at 8:16 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]

Hilariously, my 13-year-old was on a bike ride tonight and a woman out for a walk with her family stopped him and was like, "Are you Eyebrows' oldest?" And he was like, "Yes?" And she was like, "I'm your mom's sister's BFF from elementary school! I've known you since you were two months old!" (Hadn't seen him since COVID started. Was in town visiting her parents.)

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:32 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]

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