I looked at the text from my best friend and immediately started laughing.
“I’m on a college visit and I just want you to know that we are in over our heads. Did you know dorm rooms have granite countertops now?”
She proceeded to tell me that she felt like she was living that nightmare when you show up to school in your underwear and everyone is laughing at you: that she was caught so completely unaware by everything a parent has to do and remember when it comes to helping your kid actually move into a dorm room.
As we texted back and forth, I smiled gratefully that she makes me feel so normal in my inability to understand the FAFSA form.
No one should have to proceed through the trials and tribulations of raising teens without using the buddy system.
It’s a matter of survival.
My best friend and I met when we were college freshman, both scared to death and incapable of making adult decisions beyond what take out we felt like ordering on a Friday night. During the course of our college years, we learned a lot about life and the real world. While yes, we learned how to make scrambled eggs in the microwave and not to go to a particular bartender at our local dive because he watered down the drinks, we also learned together how to properly interview for jobs and to pay our rent on time.
Together, we learned how to be adults.
Now, we are learning how to parent teens who will turn into adults. Somehow, the babies who used to crawl at our feet while we drank coffee at her kitchen table grew up. And now they need us to help them buy their own kitchen tables.
I’d never survive any of the decisions I’ve had to make for my teens without the help of my close friends who are in the trenches with me. My friends are my sounding board, my sanity and my reality check.
The buddy system is my lifeline these days because friendships are crucial when you are in the thick of parenting a teenager.
Just like that moment when the nurse hands you an infant, having a teen in the house reminds you exactly how much you don’t know about parenting.
But the friends who have gone through it before will help you figure it all out, thank God.
Even if they have to show up with wine as you cry into your laptop because your brain doesn’t understand the Common App.
I need my friends to help us understand the ins and outs of AP classes and the college prep classes that seem like a small fortune. And, when I’m watching my teens battle stress and anxiety, hearing my best friend say, “You are a good mama for worrying,” makes me pray she’ll never stop answering my calls.
I will need my friends to bring me chocolate and wine, no, scratch that, a fifth of vodka, on the day my teens start driving. Better yet, I’m going to need them to teach my kids to drive because it turns out, that imaginary brake on the passenger side of the car doesn’t do anyone any favors.
And I’m going to need my friends so much more in the coming years.
Because college drop off is only a few summers away and I’m not ready.
I will need my friends to hold when me cry on the night before my oldest leaves for college. And to remind me to save the ugly cry for when I get to the car.
I will need my friends to be there when the phone rings in the middle of the night and our daughter is sobbing on the other end because she needs to go to the ER and she’s terrified.
I will need my friends during that inevitable moment when one of our teens comes up short during application process. In those moments, when your kid receives his SAT scores and you are secretly disappointed, you can tell your best friend how bummed you are that he’s probably not going to get into his dream school.
I will need my friends to help me remember that I did stupid shit in college, too. That we stumbled home drunk and partied too much but somehow, we found our way. Our friends remind us that we, too, were young once and to let the apron strings go a little.
I have shared so many moments with my best friend: first positive pregnancy tests, first steps, and the first days back to work after our kids hit kindergarten. With every milestone and parenting triumph, it’s her voice that has been on the other line cheering me on. With every parenting fail and every dark mothering moment, it’s her arms that have hugged me and whispered, “You don’t suck as a mom.”
So many firsts but, now, the lasts are on the horizon: the last first day of school, the last prom, the last graduation. It’s all happening in the blink of an eye.
My best friend has gotten me through the firsts of parenting.
Now she’s going to help me get through the lasts and I will hold her hand during the hard parts.
We’ll do it together.