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The Third Age Of Women, Or Saturday Morning at 7:49am


There have been times in my life with women, and times without.

When I was a teen, for example, it was all about the boyfriend. Boyfriends, I should say, as in serial. But I guess we could well argue I wasn’t a woman at 14, or even 18, so let’s move on.

In college, while I had a few women friends, life still revolved mostly around serial boys. It was only when I graduated that the First Age Of Women began. My boyfriend was now long-distance, my workplaces well-populated with women. My roommates and neighbor-friends-round-the-block were women. I suppose that’s the life phase shown in Sex In The City, except we didn’t say that then. Or live quite that way – but I digress.

Then I settled down with the man who became my first husband, and began my career in a male-majority industry. I had one woman friend in my office. One. And we couldn’t really hang out – we got teased if we did. Ah, the days before sexual harassment laws were not so golden my dears.

The Second Age Of Women did not begin until I gave birth to my daughter. Home for the first time, looking into the blue eyes of my baby, I knew I needed compatriots. I joined a mother’s group hosted by a local birth center, and even when that closed we kept on. For something like 8 years we met, in our houses, in the park as children grew, and at monthly dinners once we could get free at night. Stay at home moms marvel the first time someone else puts their baby to bed.

I met my best-friend-to-this-day during those years. I walked by her house in houndstooth leggings and a gray cotton tunic, carrying my baby son on my back and pushing my daughter in a stroller. She ran out of her house, crying, “Wait, wait!” She had two little girls of similar age to my children. We had so many adventures in the years that followed, at zoos, on beaches, in parking lots. One could never know what would entertain our children, so we ventured far. When the kids were in school, she and I would walk for exercise, talking ourselves up and down hills for an hour or more.

But then I returned to full-time work, again in a male-majority industry. You know the drill.

So now it’s been interesting to see blogging, and this retirement, bring more women friends into my life. Interesting is the wrong word. It’s been joyful and lightly surprising, like the first ripe peach of summer.

Last Sunday I had a 4-hour lunch with Audi, of the now-dormant Fashion for Nerds, Deja Pseu of Une Femme d’un Certain Age, and Sally McGraw of Already Pretty. You see all of us smiling afterwards in the photo above. We had planned to shop after eating but the conversation was so easy, entertaining, and enlightening, why stop talking?

Coming together as women, at this age and in this era, is pretty damn fantastic. In my youth I had so many fears – that other women were more put together, more traditionally feminine, more apt to like each other than me. I sat fidgety in my metaphorical chair at the table. Now? Even when the old anxieties start up their cicada sounds, I either talk myself down or confess. I find I am so often forgiven. Because other women have had similar experiences; the roller coaster, the big mistakes, the startling happinesses like light through trees.

Maybe young women these days talk just as we did last Sunday. Maybe it’s not this age but this century I’m feeling. I hope so. Here’s to women around tables anywhere – may we all flourish. And what about you, if I may ask? Have you always had women friends? The same for decades? Or new with each phase of your life? The Third Age of Women has begun, and I want to know your stories.

Have a wonderful weekend. The peaches are ripening early in California.


48 Responses

  1. Growing up I had very few friends, male or female…two reasons I guess. One, I was very shy awkward and uncomfortable around people and second, I just wasn’t interested in the same things other kids were into although I identified a bit more with my boy classmates than the girls. I was also (sorry for the lack of modesty) prettier than most of the girls which made them dislike me and the boys afraid of me, so most people kept their distance…which was fine with me due to reasons above. But as I didn’t find lack of friends to be a problem and nobody really pursued me, plus I married a man who feels pretty much the same way so as an adult things haven’t changed much.
    I am now retired from a male dominated career (engineering)to a “career” as caretaker of our farm. I find the solitude of farm life to be very energizing, very restorative and do not really see it as solitude. I do think sometimes that I probably missed something wonderful in not seeking out people more often but consider my husband, 1 female friend and my animals to be sufficient company. I guess the key is to be happy with one’s life as it is and happy I certainly am.

  2. Oh, gosh! I feel almost identical to the above but, do wish I had a few more close friendships or at least one best friend. As it is, we have a number of more casual friendships.

    1. @Jane, My new husband is my best friend – I just happen to have a female one too. And one thing I should have been clearly about, because I think it’s key to my experience, none of my women friends except my middle sister live nearby. New technologies have enabled these long distance relationships, which in turn allow me to spend almost all day every day with my husband (when he’s not traveling), and still carry on friendships with women. For me it’s the best of both worlds.

      That said, I’m a belonger. Many people are introverts and one-at-a-timers, and don’t crave the sense of multiple people in the virtual room.

  3. Even though I love men and their ways I have always been a girls girl even though they come with their own ways. Through it all I find that women have been there and if we can just get past little bickering then usually there are no problems overall. I also have quite a few gay male friends who I also have great connections. I have a funny feeling that as much as I have tried to fight it I adhere to the philosophy about mLe female friendships…just my own experience of course…but a good chinwag with a great girlfriend is worth ten sessions with a therapist!

  4. When the pone rings and you see on the display that it is your friend, and you answer and speak in friend-code, already with the private jokes and shared history. She says that she can NOT take another minute of her husband/children/job. You counter with stories that top hers, and you make a date to discuss this over CHEESECAKE. You know that she is perfectly happy although, just for the day, it may take dessert to restore her equilibrium. She has heard your stories of woe often enough, and lured you out to shop or watch a Woody Allen flick, and coax you back to life. Ah, friendship…what would we do without it?

  5. Your get together sounds like an absolute delight and I know exactly what you mean about all the chatter…it is often hard to get a word in edgewise when you meet up!
    You all look so happy and relaxed in the photo…a nice memento of your lunch.

    I cherish my women friends and just returned from a visit with my friend L who lives on a Gulf island…we picked up right after we left off and had a wonderful time together. My BFF who I have known since we were in grade 3 lives in town and knows me better than almost anyone else except maybe my husband.

    Peaches? Already? My goodness you do live in paradise.

  6. Yes I’ve always had female friends – as far back as I can remember – also acquaintances , enemies & most relatives ! I lived in a female world until university brought me my only 2 men friends . Now at 60 my 4 best friends I met respectively at 14 , 16 , 19 & 20 ( the only male best friend ) . But feminism taught me to value them fully , I think .

  7. I value my women friends and some of them have been my friends since I was twelve years old. Others since I was eighteen. In fact, one of our guests at the farm this weekend is a friend who sat sat behind me in seventh grade history class. Her mother was the florist for our wedding 38 years ago.

    Like you, I went through a few periods when it was all about the boyfriend(s). Fortunately, that time was short lived.

    Today, at age 62, my women friends are my stalwarts. We get together often and save time for each other. We genuinely love and care about each other. There is nothing better or more valuable.

  8. I treasure my friendships – a close second to my children. An ex-husband and various lovers come and go, but, in my very best friend of 35 years, I found my soul mate. At the moment she lives two states away – a first in our friendship – I can’t imagine my life without her. One call and we pickup the conversation from a few days ago. Sometimes no greeting, just straight into “I’m having a bad day” or “the funniest thing just happened”. Years of middle of the night emails or texts, so we don’t awaken the families, “I just read something I think you will want to read” or “I need to get out of this place now! Can you come get me?”. I’m so grateful for my friendships.

    1. @Miranda St John, My best friend and I, separated now by only one continent, prorgress!, have a rule that no matter the conversation one or the other of us are totally allowed to hang up whenever required just by saying, “Wait, gotta go, call you later.” We always do:).

  9. That was SO much fun, wasn’t it??

    I didn’t really have a group of close women friends until my 30’s. I think I was too insecure around other women up until that point to really bond. But now I absolutely treasure my women friends.

  10. As good a friend my husband is, there is nothing like girlfriends. I find female relationships nourishing and restorative. It’s just plain fun.I have two very close women friends, one of whom I really consider my twin, and for the last 13 years I’ve been lucky enough to be in a book club of 10 women. Four of us had sons on the same sports team and we gathered together a wonderful group of very different women, who shared a love of books. Though we do talk about books, we spend a lot of time talking about things women talk about, sharing our joys and disappointments, arguing and laughing. We are very close and I know I can count on any one of these friends in a time of need.

    1. @Leslie, That sounds so wonderful, to have such a trustworthy circle. I rely on my siblings for that – there are 4 of us, a veritable crowd:.

  11. I too worked in a mostly male field, but it was after sexual harassment laws were in place, so a different experience–nobody even dared harmlessly tease lest it be called harassment. Glad you & your fellow bloggers had a nice get-together!

  12. Today I’ve been feeling lonely, realizing after I read your blog that it is time for the “Third age of women” for me”. I’ve narrowed my world to work, husband and family and crave some close female friendships. Thanks for your post today!

  13. How lovely! I want my daughter to read this, a lease, long view of life that will give a teenager some perspective.

  14. I’m at that age (30s) where friends are busy with full time work + raising children and don’t have time for their friends and I don’t have as much in common with them at this life stage because I don’t have children.

  15. I think there are two kinds of women (or maybe more), but there is definitely one type who values and spends as much or more time with girlfriends than with the husband. Then there are those who value time with the husband more than with girlfriends, so friends come and go, and if they’re longtime friends, more infrequent get-togethers are the rule. I think I’m of the second variety. I need friends, but I sometimes have to force myself to get out to lunch or go shopping with them. I I have something going with a girlfriend(s) almost every week, but my quality time is spent with husband and family. I keep working at maintaining friendships; however, Husband and I are close, and I love my time with him. We’ve been married for nearly 50 years.

  16. Oh what delight to open this page and recognize you all. I read all three of your blogs. I’m even planing on getting together with Deja Pseu. What a treat to see you all enjoying yourselves.

    Friendships? I’ve been lucky living in the same place I grew up in. I’m still friends with my girlfriends from grammar school, junior high, high school and college. We get together on a regular basis. Laughing and crying through the years.

    Now that I’ve started to blog I’ve become acquainted with a whole new and younger group of women. All have been so impressive including you with their intellligence and creativity. So I have always seemed to have girl friends and enjoyed our lives together. Lovely post.

  17. I echo E. Jane’s response. My husband of 45 years is my best friend and I spend the majority of my time with him and he with me. I had female friends before I married and I know I should be cultivating them, especially now as I grow older, but I find we don’t have much in common other than blogging. I have no children and my career was in a male dominated world and so there’s not much in common there. Frankly when I’m with my female peers, I feel like I don’t belong and that makes it hard. I have a lot of work to do if I am going to have much of a chance of having close girlfriends don’t I.

  18. In the third stage myself, I look forward to every get together with my girlfriends, new and old. I need them now more than ever, cherish their camaraderie, value their companionship, finding new girlfriends seems easier now, too.
    I’m so glad your friend that watched you walk by with your stroller came out of her house to meet you. Ancient proverb “a man who has friends must show himself friendly”, or something like that. I love that we all have a life of experiences, thoughts, laughter and struggles that bind us together.

  19. My life pattern with girlfriends echoes much of yours. Though for me as a teen, it wasn’t so much the boyfriends as the boys as friends. Sadly, and I can’t remember why, I wasn’t as comfortable around females as I was around males back then. Thankfully, this has shifted and my “oldest” girlfriends have been around for 30 years. But, whatever stage of life we are in, I’ve always maintained that true friendship can only be obained through shared experiences. With age, it goes without saying that we gather more and more of those shared experiences and friends are easier to recognize.

    To girl friends!!

  20. Hi…I have been reading your older segments on your travels in India. Its rather strange as I had done trip to India when I was 25 ! I went in 1988 and I stayed for three months. I too could not get permission in Darjeeling to go to Sikkim. Reading all your posts of a women travelling alone there…it was as if you and I were so alike. I tried to write bu unlike you ….I do not have the talent for it.
    But…Thank you for letting me relive my three months in India all those years ago….when I was so young and full of interest and yet so unprepared for India. Yes…as you wrote I too came back a better thinking person…..Thank you and I will keep reading. Carolyn

  21. I think it is good to have a combination of both. I have girlfriends that I have had since age 11 and one since about age 5, we are going to the theatre together this Tuesday. They are very precious as we share common memories that can never be replicated. I have also made some new friends, some through my work as a coach and image consultant and some more recently through blogging (I greatly look forward to my annual day spent with Susan of Unfemme when she visits Europe).

  22. love this post and wish I’d been there too. I’ve always had girlfriends, some very old but I’ve picked up more since working, becoming a mum (kindy mum friends) and through blogging. I like to mix them all together xxx

    1. Sally, did you have a chance to “nab & grab” any thrift store purchases in SF? Inquiring minds wanna know, “my dear.”

  23. What a happy-making photo of what must have been a wonderful time together! My women friends have always been a very important part of my life, but I’ve found it tough to find the time I need with them in the last 5 or 10 years of work and family demands, combined with logistics of our island lifestyle. I’ve been trying to remedy that in the last year or so and hope to spend even more girlfriend time in retirement. You make it look like a good idea!

  24. A combination of moving too often and working in male, overly-competitive industries left me sadly ill-equipped for the more delicate business of nurturing women friends. I now boast a few whom I love to see. It doesn’t happen nearly enough.

    Perhaps when my bots are grown I will find the time to cultivate some more.

  25. What a wonderful post. I especially love the story of how you and your BFF connected.

    I have always had and relied upon a my girlfriends.

    They talk me off the cliff,give me courage, and make me laugh till I cry.

    At one point in my life I lived in Atlanta with a soon to be husband.

    We moved because I couldn’t make any friends.

    And I can’t live without love and laughter, shopping and pedicures with GFs.

    xo J

  26. What a thought provoking question. Well, at this point of life, now no kids at home, no husband, just my own place I love to be, I find myself withdrawing from my women friends. Some I have known for many years. Am I becoming a hermit? I worry. I think the real answer is that I have changed and so has my girlfriends. As we move through life, they have morphed into a unit with their husbands I somewhat feel weird about. I worked very hard to get out of a toxic long relationship and now I have set myself back in my own shoes. I hate watching my friend that I know well, squirm and miss out on HER chances to get to the next level. She is missing it. This makes me sad so i avoid her. Life changes and we must also!!

  27. What a lovely photo! I am a devoted reader of yours, Pseu, and Sally (among others) and all of this stemmed for me from a guest post you did for Corprette. I love it when the blogosphere ladies get together which seems to happen more often than I would have imagined. I have thought occasionally about writing a blog just so I could qualify to hang out with this illustrious group of talented, intelligent women with great taste. I have learned so much.

    1. @TB, Why thank you! If you go to Pseu’s blog, you can see my middle that I cropped out of this! Ha! In any case, I am sure you can meet any if us without any qualifications except those you already have.

  28. I have those same fears. I sit fidgety in my chair. I have a couple of close girl friends, but we have nothing in common but shared memories, and as we grow older and spend less time together, I love them no less, but have to explain or restrain more. I have always found boys easier to get on with, but recently I have been wishing for some close women friends with whom to I can share more. I’ll let you know if I find them!

  29. I have had a handful of wonderful women friends. I had my two best friends in high school, one of with whom I am still in touch, a best friend post college, and a best friend in Memphis.

    It has been six years since I left Memphis and I still miss my friend. I miss being able to just go over to her house to hang out. Email and phone are not the same. Besides, neither of us are phone people – she tells me, “I always answer when it’s you calling because I know you won’t waste my time with pointless chatter.”

    I meet nice people wherever I go, but it gets harder and harder to find that Best Friend. I have made several wonderful friends online and have gotten to meet some of them in person (including Lisa) but those friendships are not the everyday, come over let’s watch Queer Eye for the Straight Guy friendships.

  30. I was enveloped in a feminine world growing up–my mother and two sisters, a couple of best friends. Then came a girl’s boarding school. There I learned, painfully, that girls in groups/packs can wound badly. I married my lifetime best friend at age 19 and my son was born at age 21. So now my life was mostly male-oriented. And during my working years, most of my good friends were men. I miss the warmth, humor and fun of female friends now that my mother is gone and my sisters scattered geographically and philosophically. I read about “girl getaways” and such, but they just aren’t part of my life.

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