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Making Mom Friends

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Making friends takes time, it's a process. This is what I've told my children during the many moves we've made. I've always envied a child's place in the social stratosphere; being in school all day, orbiting around other kids with varying degrees of commonalities—making friends is almost inevitable.

It is trickier for me, a work-at-home mom. There simply aren't that many potential friends wandering around the inside of my house. It takes longer to make friends when you're not sloshing around a mosh pit of peers.

Making friends takes time, it's a process, I tell myself. And I am lucky because I actually like being alone most of the time. It's just that some of the time, I wish I had a confidant—a girlfriend to dish with, or complain about my husband to.

I met my first friend about three months after we moved here to North Carolina, when I was looking for a family to carpool with. Her name's Jen and she lives just around the corner. Jen's tall, blonde, naturally beautiful, spunky and totally upbeat. The worst part is that she is ridiculously kind, self-deprecating and grounded. There is nothing not to like about this woman, which I find slightly unnerving.

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When we first met, you would have thought that my new potential friend, Jen and I would have made time to get together during the days, considering all we stay-at-home moms do is sit on the couch with our feet on the coffee table, watching our stories on the TV and eating bricks of chocolate fudge. Ahem. But we move in different directions resulting in the most time we are able to share together was a driveway greeting during carpool. We hadn't gotten to the point yet, or made a rite of passage where I knew, for sure, that we were friends.

One afternoon, Jen and I were talking on the phone about the next morning's school pick-up when she told me that she was going on a rare date with her husband that evening. She said that she was going to see the author David Sedaris read from his new book.

"Have you heard of him?" she asked.

My heart literally skipped a beat. It was reading David Sedaris' book, Me Talk Pretty One Day that brought laughter back into my life after the traumatic turn of events that surrounded my twins' premature birth. His autobiographical stories elicit from me, warm tears and embarrassing snorts of laughter. I treasure his books, and when I heard that he would be in town was dying to go see him, but because my husband was (seemingly permanently) out of town and due to my lack of friends situation, when the tickets went on sale, I stoically passed.

"Have I heard of him?" I screeched into the phone at Jen, "I love him. I've read all of his books twice and I love him. I like to imagine that maybe he and Julia Child had a baby, and it is me," I gasped.

"Well, come with us, then!" Jen enthused.

I looked at the pile of dishes in my kitchen sink and grimaced. A couple of my daughters were still getting over strep throat, two had broken body parts and I had already started my girl's favorite comfort dinner, Asian poached chicken with soba noodles. I couldn't go. I wished Jen a good time, hung up the phone and I got on with doing dishes and poaching chickens.

The next morning, my car idled in Jen's driveway as we waited for her son to come out of the house. I sat sort of slumped in the front seat. I was wearing a ratty, old sweatshirt thrown over my nightgown and hadn't had time to brush my teeth. Jen came bounding out the front door in her pajamas. Her legs looked eight feet long, her teeth were super-sonic white, and she wasn't wearing a swipe of make-up.

Jen reached into the car and hugged me. I got a bit of snot on her pajama top.

I sunk deeper down into my seat and popped an Altoid in my mouth.

"Luke will be right out," she cheerfully sang.

"How was David Sedaris?" I asked.

Jen said nothing, as she brought her hand out from behind her back and handed me Sedaris' newest book.

Before I could say anything, she said, "Open it."

Inside the cover David Sedaris had signed it, "To Jenny, I am really angry that I missed you—David Sedaris."

I don't hug and I rarely cry. I've built a reputation on these two character flaw traits. As I tried to open my mouth and say, "Thank you," my voice cracked and I began to really awkwardly cry. Jen's son looked uncomfortable as he climbed his way into the backseat. Jen reached into the car and hugged me. I got a bit of snot on her pajama top. I finally croaked out a beleaguered, "Thanks!" and sped off to school.

Making friends takes time, it's a process. Sometimes realizing that you have made a friend, catches you off guard.

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Asian Poached Chicken and Noodles

1 whole chicken (giblets, neck removed)

1, 3" piece ginger, not peeled, cut in half

1/4 cup miso paste (I used the light, shiro miso)

2 tablespoons minced lemongrass-- 1 or 2 stalks

1/2 lime

1/2 lemon

3 cloves garlic, peeled, whole

8 oz Soba noodles or whole-wheat pasta

3 tablespoons fish sauce

Handful of chopped green onion

Steamed or sautéed bok choi, asparagus, spinach or kale

1) Trim any excess fat from the chicken (if you want to remove the skin, that's cool). Place the chicken into a deep pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Add in everything except the fish sauce and green onion, cover and bring to a gentle simmer, then crack the lid and continue to simmer very gently.

2) After 90 minutes, check the chicken, it should be falling apart, if this is the case, remove the chicken, ginger pieces, lemon & lime halves and garlic. Allow the chicken to cool then shred the meat. Set aside.

3) Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add in Soba noodles or pasta. Cook until just al dente, then remove from the heat—do not drain. Toss the shredded chicken and sliced green onions, as well as the fish sauce into the noodle/soup. Serve up a bowl of noodles with broth and chicken and top with steamed or sautéed vegetables.

Makes: 8 servings

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