There have been a lot of things I've "missed" that I never intend to, and I am absolutely blessed that I have chosen some amazing friends who both understand this, wouldn't try to change it, and who love me and are there for me without fail.
We're about to host a friend of mine that I haven't spent any real time with in almost a decade. We live thousands of miles apart, but I've thought about her just about every single day in that decade, and when we do chat, it's like picking up right where we left off. The last time we spent more than an hour or two together, she came to visit me in the winter. I had not met my husband yet, and she was a single mom to a very dependent 6 year old. The separation between her and her husband had made him withdrawn and meek, and highly sensitive. I was barely 30 and thought she was coddling him. I owe her the deepest apology for my thinking this, and the deepest gratitude for not just lopping me off like a numb and bothersome appendage.
The woman makes me laugh til I cry and I won't be doing anything more than recalling her talk about her hippie days on a commune or visits to her redneck family in Mississippi. I am so damned excited to see her, I'm about to jump out of my own skin - I don't even care if the house gets cleaned I just want her here like yesterday.
And when I think about it, I feel this way about every single one of my friends. There's not one in the bunch that I haven't called a friend going on 15 years or more. I recall a time when I thought that was just plain unheard of. And when I look at the examples I had - my parents only long time friends really kinda stopped talking to my mom after my dad died because it hurt too much and then got awkward. She would call them acquaintances now, despite the fact that I know through extended networks of people, they keep a watchful eye on all three of us.
So when you grow up and you place an extra concentrated effort on maintaining those relationships with friends who have children in roughly the same age group, you are naturally "picking their friends for them". It's a part of growing up. I have recently been able to connect with the daughters of the very friends my parents had growing up and in this way, we're really keeping the families together, or bringing them back together as it may be, through Facebook.
And I know in my heart that the friends I have who are engaged with my daughter, are being raised in a way that's closest to my own heart. They're good kids. Kind kids. Because they're being raised by good, kind parents.
But then they stop being babies, these children of ours and start branching out. Choosing friends for our children isn't easy...and helping them develop the skills they need to choose wisely and in some cases choose for fun, is insurmountably difficult. Nevertheless, they start choosing their own friends. I'm finding it absolutely curious to watch who she seems magnetically attracted to, and who she plays shy with or avoids.
Letting go of the control isn't easy ever. Never ever ever. But we can hope, through demonstrating the power of a chosen family being stronger than most would expect it to be, we can help show them the skills it takes. A whole lot of trial and error unfortunately, and a lasting commitment to be as true to others as we are to ourselves. That's what builds lifelong relationships.