Forgiveness and Friendship Through Motherhood :: A Yom Kippur Reflection

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Not all of our teenage friendships survive to adulthood.

In the days leading up to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, I’ve been reflecting on teshuvah — ” ‘returning’ to the old” — and I find myself happy to be returning to an old friendship, all thanks to the bond of motherhood.

I consider myself to be very fortunate to have remained close friends with the majority of my middle- and high-school “gang.” Surprisingly, one of the few people I didn’t remain friends with after college had been my BFF since the fourth grade. I can’t for the life of me remember what caused our falling out – or if we even had one, for that matter. One day we just weren’t friends anymore.

There had been a few attempts at reconciliation through the years, but none of them stuck. Several years had passed with no contact, other than occasionally seeing each other’s comments or photos on Facebook through mutual friends. People would offhandedly remark about us being “frenemies,” but if I had ever felt that way about our relationship, I certainly didn’t feel that way in the last year or two; our friendship had just run its course, I thought.

Last December, when my father suddenly died, my ex-friend heard about my loss through a mutual friend and reached out to me on Facebook, offering her condolences. I was truly touched by her kind words and remembrances of my dad. I wrote her back, thanking her for her thoughts. Death had reunited estranged friends in the past. Would this be one of those times? I wondered. No, not this time. That was the end of our interaction, and as I tried to keep my head above the crushing grief and take care of my seven-month pregnancy, I thought little more about it.

When my son was four months old, I heard from my ex-friend again, this time a congratulatory note after learning from a mutual friend that I was now a mom. I wrote back, thanking her, figuring that, like our interaction seven months prior, this would be the end of it. Thanks to a virus infecting my entire household, I had gone several days without checking my messages. When I could see straight again, I went back to my habit of stalking Facebook while I nursed into the wee hours of the night. It was during one of these nursing sessions that I saw my ex-friend had responded, asking to see a photo of my little boy. How could I deny anyone the pleasure of seeing such a cute face? So I sent one.

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A rekindled friendship is a comfort and a joy.

Not thirty seconds later, another message from her popped up on my screen. She, too, was awake because she was in the children’s hospital with her daughter. My heart sank for her as memories of my own time in the children’s hospital with my then-two-week-old son flooded my mind. I, of course, responded, and we chatted for a bit about her kids, my son, and our hospital experiences.

Despite not having been friends for so long, I found myself frequently thinking about her and her daughter that day. During yet another middle-of-the-night feeding, I messaged her to see how her daughter was doing. She, again, was awake, and we talked well into the morning, keeping each other company as we held our sleeping babies, bonding over pregnancy announcements, breastfeeding, and all things “mommy.”

After finally going to bed and waking up again, I saw that she had started following me on Instagram. I followed her back, and for the next few weeks we enjoyed interacting through pictures of our children.

One morning, about a month after that first interaction in July, she sent me a cute picture from our childhood and asked if I wanted to be friends again. And we are.

In a time when “mommy wars” all too often cause rifts between friends, it’s refreshing to find that motherhood also has the potential to bring people together.

I don’t know what the future of our friendship looks like, but right now I’m enjoying the mutual admiration of each other’s kids, support of each other’s writing, and encouragement of each other’s journey as a mom.

Has motherhood helped put you back in touch with old friends? If you’re observing Yom Kippur this weekend, will you “return to the old” in your mind? Share in the comments.

Photo credits, top to bottom: amanda.venner / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA; Foter / CC BY

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