I want a friend who is unchanging. Someone who is the same person regardless of who they are with.
That magical unicorn friend does not exist and I consider that a good thing. The notion that this person would somehow be a superior level of friend is ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, consistency of character is a valuable quality but it too often translates to what is actually achingly boring. Real consistency of character is having the same values and beliefs across the board while the talent is in the presentation.
I’ve spent my whole life formulating largely 3 versions of myself: Family Andrea, Professional Andrea, and Friends Andrea (there is also Wine Andrea but that’s neither here nor there.) I have the most fun as the friend but, guess what? They’re all still me. Take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay. One may leak into another from time to time but I usually know when to present which version and to whom.
Since having my son 2 years ago, I’ve kept two Facebook accounts. The original started when Facebook first became available and is where I can be the me-est me. I am loud, opinionated, and I find nothing more exhilarating than getting others to laugh which comes through in that account like the Kool-Aid man through a brick wall, only with more cursing. Then came the (hellish) journey that was pregnancy. I knew I’d need a second account because there was NO WAY I was going to be able to prevent my sensy, morally superior loved ones from seeing all the less-than-family-friendly banter. I did want to share with them my experiences as a mom and post the obligatory barrage of pictures of my kid though.
What did I not want to do? Vomit that person all over my friends who don’t have, want, or even like kids. The "family account" is just as much an escape for them as it is for family members. Truthfully, it's an escape for me too. Yes, my family is my life but needing an outlet where I can vent doesn’t mean I’m denying who I am or apologizing for being a mom. Mom Andrea is a real Andrea too. All it means is there is a new audience.
Becoming a mom doesn’t mean you’ve gone the way of Carol Brady or June Cleaver. Being a mom means you’re responsible for not letting this little dude, that you love a whole lot, die or become a serial killer. Motherhood hasn't changed me but it has given me an audience who I CAN tell about the color and consistency of my son's poop or complain about how much parenting fucking SUCKS sometimes and be met with understanding and empathy. Your audiences become your support groups.
There are no “sides” to me. AlI of the Andreas I have described are the same person, just expressed differently between the audiences that comprise family, friends, professionals and fellow parents. Ultimately, I get to be me in every incarnation. Every level of Andrea knows people who share similar experiences, thoughts, or ambitions and probably more importantly, people who don’t. Expecting everyone to be comfortable with all of me isn't fair to anyone. It's okay to share my thoughts on parenting but not be a fan of my abrasiveness. It's okay to like my abrasiveness but hate my liberal leanings. Fortunately, I can read that and be a person you need because caring for others means being flexible in presentation.
There has been a bit of a learning curve. Hell, even now, 2.5 years since its inception, I have to delete comments from friends who don’t pay attention to which Facebook account they’re commenting on. Why yes, you can tell he’s my son in the picture where he’s unintentionally flipping off the camera as an infant. NO, you should not announce that to my parents, in-laws, and professional connections.
So, surprise, family and friends! Spoiler alert: If you can’t find my other account in a search, I’ve blocked you out of love and compassion so give it up.
Sincerely, Your own personal Andrea who values all the yous that make you, you.
Photo credit goes to Eva Pech Marie