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The first time I met Jennifer we were sitting beside each other in an introductory theater class in college. On top of our overachieving, Type A personalities and a similar sense of humor, we ended up being in the small handful of people in that class who actually read the assigned plays and who shared opinions in class. We quickly became friends. Over our four years of college together, we shared dozens of classes. We shared a love of literature and writing and didn’t understand anyone who didn’t love a good Jane Austen novel. We still don’t!
We’ve been friends now for 16 years, so you can imagine the number of inside jokes we’ve accumulated over the years! I’ll never forget the time we were creating a movie as a project for our film class and the strap of her purse broke in the middle of a scene. The look of devastation on her face was priceless, but she ad libbed a few lines and worked it right into the script like a pro. Or the time we took a trip to the beach together and she said it was “a bit premature” to move our stuff. Spoiler alert! She was wrong! All of our stuff (including us) got soaked. The people sitting farther back on the beach got a good laugh as we screamed and started frantically grabbing our stuff and throwing it away from the tide. We still talk about it. Actually, I still like to refer to things as being “a bit premature.”
We’ve made a million great memories in the last 16 years. I’ve watched all three of her kids grow up. I helped her now 16-year-old son open his presents at his third birthday party. I kept Grayson’s picture on my desk at work before I had a son of my own. Now he’s nearly a foot taller than me and driving a car! Her younger son, Jake, and my son haven’t known a world without each other. Being less than a year apart, they were born friends. But I don’t really see how they would have had a choice otherwise. They’ve spent so much time together over the years that it’s for the best they got along! When he was leaving our house after a playdate a few weeks ago, Jake wrapped his arms around me and said, “Bye, Second Mom!” And I just laughed as I replied, “Bye, Second Son.”
When she had her last child three years ago, I visited her in the hospital the day after Charlotte was born. I came bearing a hospital survival kit, including a book, her favorite Starbucks drink, and some lip gloss (of course). My house was the first place where Charlotte spent the night away from home. Whenever we’re together for a playdate, I grab her up like one of my own kids. Since I only have one child, I’ve gotten to enjoy all the great things about having a little one around again. I got to hold her and feed her when she was a baby. Now I get to play with her kitchen set and chase her around when she’s being a little troublemaker.
The perfect example of our friendship happened almost 5 years ago. In 2011 Jennifer was struck by lightning. In the version she tells, a tree she was standing next to was struck by lightning and the current ran through the tree and through her. I say she was struck by lightning. When she was in the ambulance before they took her to the hospital to make sure she was ok (she was fine except for some bruises on her legs and some short-term blurry vision), she told the paramedic, “When I tell my friend I got struck by lightning, she’s going to say ‘Of course you did!’ ” For the record, I think I asked if she was alright before I commented that of course she would be the person who would be struck by lightning in her front yard and walk away from it.
Sometimes life is busy and our playdates are few and far between, but that’s what happens with 2 husbands, 4 kids, 3 dogs, 1 cat and 9 chickens between us! One of the things we have in common is the fact that neither of us is a touchy feely kind of person. We don’t talk a lot about how important our friendship is or what it brings into our lives, but I’d be willing to bet we both feel the same way about it. We don’t hug each other. We don’t tell the other how much we care about her. But we cherish our friendship.
We ask one another for advice. We share health tips and anxiety-inducing information about germs and illnesses. We share stories about our kids and the mommy moments that make us happier than anything else and crazier than anything else. I imagine we’ll continue doing the same until all of our kids are grown up and living their own lives. Maybe then we’ll attempt another one of those beach trips!
I admire Jennifer for her creativity, her determination, and her ability to raise three wonderful, kind children. They’re smart and polite and as funny as she is. They give her a run for her money, but she always handles anything that comes her way with a sharp wit and that perfectionist personality I first encountered as a college freshman.
Since she loves accessories, this year I gave her a Tree of Life Necklace from Hallmark Jewelry for Mother’s Day. Maybe it’s our age or the fact that we’re both done having kids, but I’ve been feeling sentimental lately.
The card enclosed in the box says, “Love begins with family.” People always say that you can pick your friends, but not your family. Our kids play together. Our husbands know each other and play the occasional card game together. My siblings know her and her kids. My sister has a picture of Jennifer’s daughter on her refrigerator! She may not have been born a part of my family, but Jennifer and her family have become a part of mine. I may not have been able to pick all of my family members, but I’ve certainly added in plenty of good ones.
You can find other pieces for Mother’s Day at Hallmark Jewelry on Amazon.com for the amazing mom, grandmother, sister, or friend who’s important in your life.
Photo Credits: Blondinrikard Fröberg, Michelle Frick