In watching the games children play among themselves… I am often reminded how really important friendship can be and should be. How wonderful it is when things are going well and how wretched it feels when things are not. (There is a huge difference between how the girls handle friendships and how the boys do …such a big topic that will have to wait for another post).
My six-year-old son stopped in the middle of supper recently to announce an emergency. “Mom I have to go right now and see (so and so)…I miss him I want him to know I am still his friend!” Sure, how about when you have finished supper? He did not have a chance to answer before the other kids (lots of those in the peanut gallery here) chimed in with “THAT is SO NOT an emergency.” Some older (more jaded) siblings added “Isn’t he the guy that got mad at you over that toy?” and “Well I would make him wait if I were you…let’s see how long it takes until he comes to see you! Besides you can always make new friends.” This reaction was met with immediate tears from my six-year old. Between the tears he stammered “But I want him to know I am still his friend no matter what…. and I am thinking of him NOW and I want him to know that!” (Perhaps I should introduce this kid to “immediate” tools such as email…social media? LOL) I realized that if we understood friendship more like the six-year old does how much happier and less complicated things would be for all of us.
“A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire.” (and maintain!) ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld~
Real friendships are precious. Loss of a real friendship is devastating. Many compare the grief from the loss of a best friend to the sadness suffered when one lives through a death or divorce. Too many of us take our best friendships for granted. These are special bonds we have with other people we consider will always be there because they are people we care truly about. Not necessarily so.
Friends are a lot like plants. With care and attention they blossom into untold beauty but when left unattended for too long begin to fade. Eventually withering and dying with no lasting trace of ever existing.
As moms we tend to put ourselves last and with that the attention we would ever give to ourselves by way of indulging in a close friendship. The complete laundry list of other priorities often all but obliterates some of these most important relationships. We often tell our friends that we are busy and will be in touch as we balance a multitude of ever-changing priorities and hope that perhaps next week our schedule will allow for a few moments to spend on ourselves in time with that friend. Many “next week” promises get deferred to the week after and pretty soon an entire six weeks has passed. Pretty soon months have elapsed and eventually years.
Since almost creation, women have been raised culturally with the notion that once you have children you must sacrifice any “free time” for the good of one’s family. With larger families this is ever more the reality. The list of important things to do is never-ending. I know for me it looks something like this:
Laundry, Groceries, Laundry, Meals, Laundry, General housework, Laundry, errands, more Laundry, cleaning (bathrooms constantly) and then more laundry still. (OK agreed…a little LAUNDRY obsessed over here).
Somehow it is programmed into our heads that having any time to ourselves is an evil to be avoided and worse yet it would be positively diabolical to use such time to visit or have a friend visit. Growing up we are often taught that time with friends is a “privilege” only available to us once all our chores and duties are accomplished for the day. (Like any of one of us with a family would ever have everything accomplished …certainly not all on the same day! I am good …but my cape and tights no longer fit!) Some of us feel so guilty just grabbing a couple of hours to ourselves that we find reasons not to do the things that should matter most. Others of us can get lost in the ever-growing and endless list of chores. In the end… life is busy and can blow past all of us.
I have learned a few hard lessons with friendships. True friends are family you choose for yourself. This road called “life” is made much more bearable with these special friends to share your joys and divide your sorrows. These friendships and their memories are written on your heart forever. Sadly, I have also learned that friendships are delicate things that can often break for reasons that are not apparent or easily understood. Heartache from a broken friendship is devastating and can last a lifetime.
In a landmark study by UCLA (The University of California, Los Angeles) “On Friendship Among Women An alternative to fight or flight ” (by Gale Berkowitz©2002) found that friendships among women provide nurturing, perspective, laughter and act as an anchor in sanity protecting our emotional health. “UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more.”
I hope that someday I will live long enough to see some very special friendships healed and restored in my life. One very special friend in particular I am so lost without. I believe in tomorrow but only if I am strong enough to change what I do today. In the meantime I am going to take a leaf out of my six-year-old’s book… tread more softly among my friends, be grateful for the blessings they are in my life, try harder to not take offence easily (nor to their preoccupation with their own lives) and arrange things in such a way that I am not too busy for the very relationships that help to keep me (and others around me) grounded! (Of course… all this while staying on top of the laundry!)
The Garden Goat