One of the best things about not being young anymore is that I don’t waste time trying to fit in with people whose values and interests are different from mine. When I was a younger mom, I would walk into a meeting at school and see the women who were all dressed a certain way, and who carried the most fashionable purses, and whose hair was perfect, and who formed their own confident circle . . . and I’d feel like a loser. They seemed to have figured out something that I hadn’t. There I was, with my unkempt hair and sneakers and jeans and t-shirts and I just didn’t fit in.
For a while I took the sour grapes route and thought, “I don’t want to be like them”–knowing full well they wouldn’t accept me as one of them anyway. But somewhere along the way (possibly after more exposure to them), it occurred to me that I genuinely didn’t want to be like them. Not at all. I mean, let’s be real–the last thing I need in my life is friends who I’d have to get dressed up just to have lunch with, or who’d raise their eyes at the kind of car I drive.
Age may not have brought me absolute wisdom in every possible way, but for me it’s cleared away a lot of insecurity about what’s cool and what isn’t, and helped me to define who I want to spend my (ever diminishing) free time with. Here’s my list:
1. People who are open-minded and tolerant in every possible way. They can be any race, religion, age, or sexual orientation–so long as they don’t discriminate against or say nasty things about those who are different from them.
2. People who don’t care what their hair looks like but do care about spending a lot of time with their families.
3. People who consider the best kind of dinner is the kind you eat together, and couldn’t care less whether it’s delivery pizza or a gourmet meal.
4. People who are funny. Really really funny. So funny I end up laughing helplessly for most of the evening.
5. People who find me funny. Really really funny. So funny they end up laughing helplessly for most of the evening.
6. People who like to talk about ideas and science and literature and movies.
7. People who’ll show up on my doorstep for dinner in sweats and say, “I meant to change into something nicer but ran out of time. I knew you wouldn’t care.”
8. People who are generous to others in every way you can be generous to others–not just with their money, but with their time, their openness, and their tolerance for honest mistakes. You like to harass waiters, receptionists, and salespeople? I’ll catch you later. (Except I won’t, because I don’t want to spend time with you ever.)
9. People who’ve known sadness and disappointment–which is probably everyone, but I only like the ones who can acknowledge and talk about the darkness, and who don’t equate vulnerability with weakness.
10. People who don’t care about impressing me with their wealth or their STUFF. I mean, seriously, guys–middle school much?
I’m really lucky: almost every week I get to spend time with people who fit all of the above criteria. Hell, I can just go on FB and interact with a whole bunch of them.
And as for those other moms? I assume they’re all at the hottest new restaurant right now, picking at salads, and eyeing each other’s purses and talking about cleanses. Maybe that’s fun for them. It wouldn’t be for me, but, hey–they get to make their own lists of what they look for in their friends. I’m sure I wouldn’t fit half the criteria. And I’m really really okay with that.