DEAR ABBY: I read your column faithfully. The letter from "Devoted Mom in Livermore, Calif." really touched a nerve with me. She said she wanted to end friendships with her old "career" friends because she no longer had anything in common with them and would rather spend her free time with her husband and daughter. How sad.
People use the word "friends" too liberally. I believe a person is truly blessed if he or she can name five "true friends." By that I mean people who will be by your side through thick and thin; back you up and ask questions later; someone you can call any time of day or night. Through childhood, marriage, children, divorce, whatever life throws your way, these friends are there. The common thread is the quality that made you friends to begin with. You may not see each other often, but when you pick up that phone or e-mail, it's like you never left off.
It's a shame "Devoted Mom" doesn't understand that true meaning of friendship. -- KATHY G., BALLY, PA.
DEAR KATHY: I agree. True friendship is a commodity so precious it should not be discarded lightly. That letter brought in some interesting mail. Read on for a sample: DEAR ABBY: Although "Devoted Mom" didn't say it in so many words, her letter smacked of the attitude that I'm willing to bet used to disgust her. Now that she's settled down, she's eager to phase out her single girlfriends. Naturally, since she has a "real" life now, she doesn't want to be around people who don't, and certainly she and all her mommy-track friends are sure that anything remotely different from their existence is entirely false. It's that very attitude that keeps us divided.
Sure, she's tired of hearing about single girls' money and boyfriend problems, but let me assure her that potty training doesn't exactly make for a riveting anecdote. Single lives are no less valuable and real than hers.
"Devoted Mom" shouldn't worry about letting those women down easily. They may not be eager to be around someone with such a smug-minded attitude anyway. -- WOMAN-POSITIVE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO
DEAR WOMAN-POSITIVE: I'm sure they won't when they find out they're expendable!
DEAR ABBY: I agree with your advice about thinking twice before phasing out her older relationships. Tomorrow her life could be turned upside down, and those things that she cherishes and enjoys now might not be there –- including her spouse, child and "new mommy" friends. Wouldn't it be nice to know that you still have those relationships and the support of those friends? The complaints she's hearing from them now were very likely some of hers in the past. Were I her, I might try to change the tone of the relationships, but in no way would I eliminate them. -- KRISTIN K., NEW CITY, N.Y.
DEAR KRISTIN: That's mature thinking. A reader in Minnesota sent me the following, and its message rings true: "Make new friends, but keep the old/The worth of true friendship exceeds that of gold."