Making friends when I was a child was really easy. I met someone new at the playground, I introduce myself to them, we both like to swing, we are in the same grade at school. Instant friends.
I’m not sure where the disconnect happens between childhood and adulthood, but making friends now is hard. Not impossible, but quite difficult. It’s like once we hit adulthood and become parents; our friendships and social connections focus on our kids and what they’re doing or becoming. We need to remember that we as parents are in need of connections that aren’t attached to our children, because the idea is usually to raise the kids so they can eventually become self-sufficient. Also, with kids, raising them takes a village, and I want to like and have common interests with those friends who are helping us with parenting that aren’t kid-centric.
Friends are important. Family is as well, but there can be extenuating circumstances that don’t allow for family to be close (distance and differing of opinions are two), that cause me to strive for connections with other parents who are in about the same stage of parenting I’m in right now, or even better, are just beyond where I’m at, so they can come along side and remind me gently, that “this is just a phase”.
I’ve been in a few social situations lately, where there have been a wide variety of ladies. Some are moms, grandmas, single moms, widows, friends of friends, but all are ladies who seemed to be craving friendship connections in some form. I know I came home from one situation almost in tears because I felt like I was intruding into conversations that seemed open and friendly initially, but I quickly got the feeling that I wasn’t welcomed. So I tried another small conversation group, but got similar responses.
Ladies, I must ask: What gives? Why are we so closed off to new friend connections?
I know that I need to do better with the connections I currently have with other ladies, but I find life is richer and more enjoyable when the connections I do have are thriving and active, versus passive and withering. All too often I forget to follow up with a friend after having a good chat over coffee, or walking through the aisles of Target and by the time we schedule another time to get together, it’s been months.
I get it, life gets busy. We are dealing with a perpetual to-do list that never ends. The never-ending loads of laundry, the perpetual cycle of naps, story time, and bedtime. Feeding those endless black holes who masquerade as our children. At the same time, we can lose sight of those friends who are often in the same cycle we are and are looking for a momentary escape from the daily grind, just like we are.
Friends are important. They can hold that cranky baby and soothe them to nap which in turn allows that exhausted new mom a chance to sit still and savor the first hot cup of coffee she’s had since the baby was born. They can bring their kids over to your house, where pandemonium is created, but ALL the kids then nap well that afternoon, so it’s a win for both moms. They can come help you pack up your house in the weeks prior to finally moving into your new house, and laugh with you when you run out of packing material and you end up using soft craft supplies as buffer and padding of the more fragile items.
They can help us see a solution to an issue that’s plagued us for weeks. They can listen to you when your family is going through some difficult issues and you’re not sure how to respond or proceed in light of what you know. They can cheer you on when you’re trying to make your business idea work and offer tips when you’re beyond frustrated that those initial business ideas don’t come to fruition.
Growing up, I would excitedly bring home the mini science experiment my teacher helped us create in school. Often it would be a simple bean seed layered between damp paper towels and all encased in a plastic baggie. The whole point of the experiment would be to take care of the bean long enough for it to sprout. We needed to be actively making sure it had enough water and light for it to thrive, otherwise it would dry out, wither and die.
Friendships are similar to that bean sprout. We need to be active in pursuing them, making time to communicate with them (water), give them enough face-to-face time (sunlight) so that they don’t wither and cease to be worth our time. Friends are important, and we all should have friends we can count on to support us, and we need to be able to do the same for them. Even if it’s a quick phone call to set up a coffee time with a friend you haven’t talked face-to-face with in weeks, make it HAPPEN, you’ll be glad you did.