One is silver, the other is gold. (Wednesday’s Wisdom)

I wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up. My mom wouldn’t let me. Yet another example of my deprived childhood. That door had been closed by two of my older sisters. While away on a troop camping trip and desperate to come home (because they had been split up), they rolled in poison ivy. It worked; they were sent home and dismissed from the troop. There would be no more Girl Scouts in our home. Truthfully, I never really wanted to join, but even if I had, that’s the story I was told.

It wasn’t until my older daughter was in the 4th grade that I thought about the “opportunities” available through Girl Scouts. She joined, and her younger sister became a Brownie. I became a troop leader. Though short-lived, ours was a good experience. All two years of it. No poison ivy rolling, but then again, I was with C when she went to camp. One thing I did take away from our weekend camping trip was the “Friendship Song”–or whatever it’s called. It’s a song about friends, new friends and old friends. One is silver, the other is gold. Great lesson in that song–get out there and make new friends, but value those that are already dear. One I’ve tried to stress to my kids.

However, sometimes in the busyness of life, I can forget to do the same. I hold up in my little cocoon barely making time to pop out and visit with my Ya-Ya’s. Let’s face it, all relationships need nurturing to grow. Without attention, marriages grow stale, children get pissy, and friendships wither. But with only so many hours in a day, an invitation to coffee with a new friend is easily declined. And, declined invitations can mean missed opportunities for growth and laughter.

Growing friendships is much like dating. There are awkward moments and probing questions. There are bridges built and similarities and differences explored. This past month I’ve intentionally opened my schedule to add some silver to my collection of gold. It’s meant that I’ve had to shave time here and squeeze my schedule there. It’s meant that I’ve said no to some invitations and let go of other obligations. But, it’s also meant that I said “yes” to the invitations of 3 really neat women, giving me the chance to get to know each better: one I’ve known casually for 4 or 5 years, another I met through our town’s Japanese sister city/host family program, and the third I met just a few weeks ago when she gave a talk about “finding purpose.” I share commonalities with each, and each offers me unique gifts in who they are.

Additionally, through my month-long 2BloWriMo and my new Transitioning Mom Facebook page, I’ve gotten to know some of my fellow bloggers and “cyber-friends” even better, bonding over similar interests, frustrations, and offering mutual support in writing, motherhood, and life. When I started writing this blog, I never imagined the relationships I would make in the cyber-world. And, now they are as much a part of my treasure as the three new friends I sat with face-to-face in the last few weeks.

I believe the most magical aspect of friendship is that, with proper nurturing, silver turns to gold. A casual coffee chat often plants the seed that grows into the tree that offers me shelter during the storms, a place to play in the sun, and a safe place to store fears, tears, and laughter. It takes effort to make room for friendships, especially new friendships. Schedules often need to be tweaked and squeezed to meet all my current obligations, and I’m often too tired to put on my best “date face” to make a new friend. But, this past month I was reminded to always make room for more treasure in my life.

Are you making room to add some silver to your gold?

©2011 Mary Lanzavecchia/Transitioning Mom

“Who took your mother’s last tampon?”

"I'm not crazy--I'm just a little unwell."

No lie. My dad asked that question. I was in high school, standing in the kitchen with one, maybe two, of my sisters. I don’t remember exactly who stood with me, but I know I didn’t face that inquisition alone. I think my mom was upstairs. Probably rummaging through cabinets in search of a stray tampon. In fact, most of the details of that moment were washed away by my teenage horror, but I still remember that question. That most embarrassing question. And, I remember the silence that followed. Not peaceful, comforting silence, but the silence that comes only with absolute shock.

For obvious reasons, I hadn’t thought about that day in years, but a few weeks ago, the memory came flooding back. I was heading out to Costco (as usual!) and I wanted my ear buds so that I could listen to music while strolling the aisles of bulk food. In temporary replacement for her broken set, I had loaned mine to my younger daughter, A. When I asked for them back, she handed them over, with no reservation, but a simple, “Oh, and just so you know, one of the ear buds isn’t working anymore. I think a wire just broke or something. I’m sorry.”

Uh-huh…really… “Just broke.” I didn’t say anything–in that moment. However, I’m pretty sure I looked like a cartoon character with steam coming out of her ears. I took a deep breath. I thanked her for her honesty, told her she would need to buy me a new pair, and headed out the door. Without my music.

As I turned the key in the ignition, I flashed back to that afternoon when my dad asked about stolen tampons. I can imagine the rant he must have heard through the bathroom door when my mother discovered the empty tampon box. It probably sounded familiar, not unlike the rants about a borrowed brush, or pair of shoes, or hairspray, or blouse, or eyeliner, etc. With 6 daughters , I’m sure she owned very little that wasn’t “borrowed” –and not replaced–over the years. And to think, it all started with the borrowing of a little real estate in her body.

As I made my drive up the peaceful country road (which is the real reason I go to Costco so often) I thought ranted, aloud,  about the number of times I have gone in search of something that was borrowed and not replaced. There have been shoes, and lipsticks, and brushes, and iPods, and ear buds,and favorite pens. (Really, really bugs me when they take my favorite pens! My husband may never ask, “Who took your mother’s last tampon?” but he’ll send in the hounds to stop my rant about a pen.) I thought about my mother and the infinite patience she demonstrated when she couldn’t find ____________, or found it broken, or never found it at all. I thought about my daughters, who are so honest and take responsibility if they break something. I thought about tampons and broken ear buds. And, then I thought about transitions.

Life changes when a child moves from lipstick borrowed to play dress up to lipstick borrowed for a date. My girls and I are in a season of transition. As moms, sharing with our children begins on the day of conception.  As they grow, we demonstrate sharing by offering our last bite of dessert, our jewelry for dress up, or even our favorite pens. By the time children are teens, we are accustomed to sharing not only the best parts of ourselves, but most of what we own as well. “Mom, can I borrow….the car, this necklace, or that CD?” More than once, I have walked into the kitchen and found a favorite pan burned or opened an empty gum package that was returned to my purse after my last piece was taken. Of course, teens mean no harm. Most days, they’re simply trying to survive the “Twilight Zone”–the untethered years between childhood and adulthood–with the aid of an iPod and borrowed ear buds. But, the promise of knowing my brush will still be on my make-up table when I need it is starting to make those empty-nest years look mighty tempting.

As I made my way past the familiar horses grazing in the field, I ended my rant. I would survive my time at Costco, sans  music, as I had many a time before when I couldn’t find my iPod. “Just a season,” I reminded myself, “and you’re gonna miss these years when they’re gone.” I smiled. I will miss these years.

Turning into the parking lot, the “Music Gods” sent the perfect period to my rant-filled drive. Matchbox Twenty’s “Unwell” began to play on the radio. I pulled into a parking space and sang along–loudly. Someday, I will be “how I used to be”, before children and broken ear buds. But for now, I’ll just roll with the burned pans, and borrowed shoes, and empty gum packages–all reminders of the two fabulous girls that call me “Mom.”

Oh, and just for the record, I didn’t steal my mom’s last tampon. That time.

What little things remind you that “you’re not crazy” — you’re a mom?

©2011 Mary Lanzavecchia/Transitioning Mom