It's too complex. But I've been watching an awful lot of Desperate Housewives lately, and I am in awe of the relationships between the women characters on the show. How fantasy-like it is, but how it is so based in reality, how women relate to each other and treat one another.
We women are a high-maintenance breed. I am no expert on women's relationships, but I have been an observer over the years, and it is a subject that continues to baffle me.
I grew up with very few friends as a kid. I think that was mostly due to the fact that we moved around so much, and I didn't have much time to really bond with anyone. I always had one or two to dork around with, but through elementary school and junior high there really wasn't anyone too close. I wasn't eating alone at the lunch table or wandering alone on the playground, but I certainly wasn't invited to birthday parties either. But I was blissfully unaware most of the time, so I survived those years pretty unscarred. However, I did get picked on sometimes. And the mean kids, even early on, were just as often girls as they were boys. As I got older, the girls seemed WAY meaner than the boys.
I'm a pretty nice person. I have my not-so-proud moments when I can get catty, and certainly a few days a month where I turn into someone I hardly recognize, but I pretty much live by the motto that you shouldn't treat someone in a manner in which you yourself would not like to be treated. So I can't compute why someone would have a desire to make another person hurt. I know, I know, they have a low self-esteem, they come from a tough home life, they hurt people to make themselves feel more in control, blah blah blah. I pretty much think mean people are just assholes.
In high school, it got a bit better, at least for me. I think I found some confidence (in my fresh grown boobs that didn't come in until high school), and I know for a fact that the friends that are built in when you're in the marching band saved me in many ways. I had people I knew, that I considered friends, but I had pretty much two or three GIRLFRIENDS. The girls that you can talk to all night long. That worry for you if you're sad. That truly do want you to get that kiss from the boy you're crushing on, and don't feel jealous if you do. It was a beautiful thing. Then I moved away from them.
In college, almost all my friends were guys. They are just so very much easier. I was on the drumline, so by default most of the people I spent time with in college were guys. I loved them. It was like having an army of big brothers. I could tell them anything. I could be whoever I really was at the time. I could be sloppy, no make up, sweatpants. They took care of me. I helped them with their girl problems. They worried about my boy problems. No judgment. And believe me, they knew things and saw things about me that I don't think any girl would have given me a pass on. I had a couple girlfriends, too. Roommates, drinking buddies, people to swap clothes with. But there was almost always an underlying pressure with them. Nothing is more tricky to navigate than a house of female roommates. Who didn't clean what, who isn't chipping in to pay for household stuff, who slept with who's ex-boyfriend, who took my mascara, blah blah blah. It can really make or break a friendship.
There were exceptions, of course. But they were few and far between. I had a sweet friend who was a couple years younger than me who I loved like a little sister, and she made me laugh more than anyone has since. I had a wild girlfriend who was a couple years older than me who I looked up to like a cool older sister who was loud and brave and loving, and introduced me to the real culture of college. They are dear women who I still love, but there weren't many like them.
But here I am, middle aged. I am who I am going to be for the rest of my life. I am a wife and mom, raising my kids, doing a pretty good job managing my life. And really, nothing has changed.
Girlfriends are hard to come by, perhaps even harder. I have some women who are incredibly dear to me, but they are for the most part family. As I call it, "forced by blood or marriage" to be my friend. I say that jokingly, of course--they really mean so much to me. Sisters and sisters-in-law. Outside of them, I do have one or two FRIENDS. I have a group of women here in town that I have met through the kids' school or sports, and they are very cool women. I just don't know them all that well. But I do have a couple special ladies who really are friends. I know them. I've known them for a long time. I know about their parenting, their marriages, their histories. And they know mine. I trust them. I can just as easily go out for a glass of wine (or two) with them as I can just greet them in passing at the ball field. I can call them if I need anything, and even better, I know they can call me.
But there are so many more women that aren't like that. These are the ones I do not understand. The women who cannot stop competing. About their parenting. Their kids' athletics. Their homes. Their cars. Their money. Their whatever. For God's sake. The women who talk trash about other women five minutes after you meet them. The ones who if you do or say something they don't like, they never speak to you again. The ones who let their kids act like assholes to your kids.
They are the middle-aged mean girls. And they are out there in force. You hear them at the ballfield. You get to know them at school functions. You see them at the stores. They are the women that make me feel cautious when I'm meeting other women, possibly future friends.
I live out here in the boonies. Most of the time I find myself a casual observer of these women, these relationships. I hear women who I though were friendly with one another talking about each other in a negative way to other women who they don't even seem to know that well. I hear about neighborhood drama as if they're stepping right off of Wisteria Lane.
I guess my point is this: It is WAY easier to be nice, people. It feels GOOD. Women are loving, passionate, funny people, and we would make a great team if we all stuck together and were more forgiving of one another. Especially now that we're getting older, ladies! Seriously, life is too short. I try to teach my kids the old saying, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." We should take time to think about what we teach our kids, and set the example. We should take some time to think about the people we were when we were kids, and how we felt when people were mean. It's an ugly feeling.
Guys have it so easy with each other. And they really are good sports to hang in there, because we women really are a mystery.