Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Because you gotta have friends....

A friend is like a good bra: hard to find, comfortable, supportive, always lifts you up, makes you look better, never lets you down or leaves you hanging, and always close to your heart - Author unknown

This morning, I attended the bi-monthly MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group that I'm a part of. If you've never heard of MOPS, it's so worth your time to check out. Even if you've heard of MOPS but you've been hesitant to join your local group, I'm telling you that it's something you won't regret! The group is for mothers who have children between the ages of 0-5...a sisterhood of sorts! Even if you are not yet a mother, keep this group in mind for when you do have children. I wish I had joined the group when I was a new mother.

Anyway, today the discussion topic was "Relationships". Not the relationships we have with our husbands, but relationships we have with our girlfriends. The woman who lead the discussion talked about the 5 barriers to relationships: time, kids, energy, friends just like me and fear. These are all the typical reasons women give as to why they don't either initiate friendships or nurture the friendships they have already formed. As she spoke, I could identify with each of those barriers. I've often used the excuses "I don't have time to see my friends" , "My kids need me....I have nothing left to give to a friend", or "I'd love to make new friends but I'm afraid they might not be accepting of me".

The more in depth the discussion became, the more I realized that I've had the wrong attitude about my friendships. When I've hit a rough patch, I hesitate to call a friend because I feel like perhaps she, too, has a lot on her plate and I don't want to overwhelm her further with my problems. I have become an introvert of sorts since I've had my kids. Maybe it's because I lack the energy I need to put myself out there or maybe it's just because I feel my friends are all busy with their own lives. It's certainly easier to send an e-mail rather than pick up the phone and have a conversation but it makes that little bit of contact I do have with my friends so impersonal. And then I've drifted so far out of touch with them, having neglected the friendships that I truly value and appreciate, leaving it even more difficult to find my way back to them again. This only leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which is never an enjoyable place to be. Don't worry, I won't be quoting Yoda again, although that famous Star Wars quote totally fits right in here.

The point of today's discussion on relationships with our friends is to realize that our friends are partners who are right beside us. We need to let them know when we need them....but we tend to not reach out. We keep to ourselves, too afraid to ask for help, support, or encouragement. I'm sure many of us have had friends offer to help us in one way or another and we often turn the offer down. Why do we do this? Maybe because we don't want to seem needy or maybe because we're afraid we may not be able to be there for her in her time of need. But when has it ever been wrong to come right out and ask for support and encouragement or accept an offer of help, especially from a good friend who can sense that we're going under, even if we can't admit it to ourselves? Sometimes a good friend can see things about us that we can't see for ourselves.

I remember right after Cole and Bella were born, Tim and I were in survival mode...our marriage was in crisis mode. As much as I tried to hide this from my friends, it was pretty obvious that things were going downhill at an alarming pace. The sleep deprivation alone was enough to make us both stir crazy. Some of my friends had offered to help but I was quick to turn them down. Then one day two of my friends informed me that they were going to come over and take care of the babies, while Tim and I were expected to go out and do something fun. As much as I trusted these two friends with my own life, I was afraid to leave my babies. And I felt guilty for accepting the help. They assured me that everything would be fine and they would not take no for an answer. They had even brought adorable swaddler blankets that they had purchased because they knew the babies hadn't been sleeping well and they were hoping the blankets would help. While Tim and I were out, not only did they take wonderful care of Cole and Bella, they made dinner for us. I thanked them, obviously, but I'm not sure they'll ever truly know what they did for me that day. They saved me. I was about to crash and burn and they rescued me.

Today's discussion on friendships was encouraging and taught me that we don't have to walk through this journey we call life by ourselves. Look at the friends beside you, the ones who are going through the same exact things we are going through right at this point in time. We need to be there for one another because who better to understand what you're going through than a friend who's walking in the same shoes. Look at the friends before you who have been where you are now. Accept their advice, suggestions and insight. Learn from their mistakes. They can tell you what to expect when your children are older and they can tell you how your marriage will change for the better once your children become more independent. Or if you don't have children yet, think of the wealth of information they'll have for you when you do become a mother. Look at the friends behind you who someday will be going through what you are going through now. It may be a friend who is pregnant with her first child and is scared because she doesn't know what to expect. It could be a friend who is trying to decide if her boyfriend is Mr. Right. Offer her advice and insight. Let her learn from your mistakes. Lastly, look beyond you....think of the new friendship you could form by just saying hello to another mom at the playground or a woman you see at the gym all the time who could be your new work-out partner. And by doing all this, you may very well save a friend who needed rescuing or make a new friend who desperately needed to feel accepted.

When has a friend come through for you when you needed her? When have you reached out to a friend when she needed help? When have you made a new friend simply by just putting yourself out there?

21 comments:

debilyn said...

wow!
what a beautiful post. this is something that I've struggled with for such a long time...even now that my kids are teenagers and don't require the constant level of attention that they did when they were younger.
my younger twin sisters are actually my best girlfriends in the whole world...but they live 600 miles away. I probably don't reach out to others NEARLY enough...mostly because of my own hangups about my own issues. my sisters know me inside and out, and sometimes it's just easier that way...

thank you...for the words of wisdom, and for the lovely comment you left on my blog the other day. your family is beautiful!

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

What a wonderful post. I hope all your MOPS friends read your blog. I play Bunko with a group of girls that are the best. As a matter of fact, I'm working on a post about them right now!

Tracy said...

Why is it your blog always makes me either laugh or cry?

Very good post. Leaves me with much food for thought. I think I've done an *ok* job nurturing my friendships, but there's always room for improvement.

Fearless Mom said...

thanks for the info. it must've taken you awhile. well worth it though.

i can relate to what you've said. i will try to be a better friend!

Nancy said...

I posted my banana bread recipe for you. Me banana bread, su banana bread or something like that.. lol Enjoy!

newlyweds said...

What a great post! This is something I struggle with also. Friendships, they can be so hard and so easy sometimes. I have definitely not been a good friend since my boys were born, I have slowly distanced myself from my friends and all because of the same issues you mentioned. I really need to spend more time with them. Thanks for all the helpful advice.

I really wish we had a MOPS group where I live but we don't! Boo.

Chris said...

I love the quote you started this out with. What a great post. So true and insightful. Thanks for the reminder.

Corrine said...

what great words. friends truly are amazing.

i think one way i have made new friends recently is through blogging, just getting to know others and reading their life stories and realizing i am not alone in my adventures.

one way i have helped a friend, I just remember once I had the urge to write a letter to a friend, more of an acquantance, and she was so excited by it and called me to tell me she really needed that.

once in the deepest depressed time in my life, a friend called at a very critical moment, she saved my life, literally. I am glad she was prompted to call me.

Nancy said...

This was an awesome well thought out post. Thank you for sharing that. I'm going to really take it to heart.

Erin said...

Thank you for that post! I have felt that way many times.

When my downstairs neighbor had a baby five years ago, I noticed a few days later through her back window that her dishes were piled up high in her sink. So I knocked on her door (even though we had never officially met) and asked her if I could please do her dishes. She was very embarrassed, but I told her I understood because I had a baby who was five months old and I remember how the first few days were after having a baby. I washed all of her dishes, and visited with her while I did them. We are now great friends!

Minxy Mimi said...

I love this post...very poignant and it speaks to me, it makes you think and realize that we sometimes create our own isolation. Your advice is right on. I will try harder to put myself out there and be a freind, the kind I want for myself.

Jen said...

I was thinking about something similar the other day. I always email my friends instead of just picking up the phone and calling.

Don't be surprised if you get a call soon!

Jen

Hajar said...

I had no idea that isolation and fear were such prevelant issues for moms with small children!? I thought I was just weird or something.
I love the quote at the top of your post. It cracked me up.

Debbie said...

I need to reach out more to my friends. It is easy to get complacent, isn't it?

The Daily Dean Chronicals said...

I too struggled with this friendship issue, especially in the begining of my marriage and then when I had my first daughter! I came to realize that I can have different friends for different situations! I have the single friend that helps keep my sex life spicy, I have the Mom friend who helps with kid advise and sanity, and I have the kids a grown friend that offers a mutitude of dynamics. I often reach out to anyone that reaches back. I am by nature a shy person, but the comfort and joy that having new and old friends bring me, makes me expand and come out of my comfort zone! I like that I am teaching my girls that friendships are valuable, you do run into roadblocks but that makes your connection much more stronger!

Amy W said...

Oh boy, I do struggle with this. After moving here 7 years ago, I finally made a wonderful friend about two years ago. Then just a few months after that, she moved several states away. We've switched churches in the last year, and I'm finally finding some new friends at our new church - but I had to be intentional about joining some women's Bible studies to find them because there are about 1000 people there every Sunday!

Savvy Little Women - Kate said...

So true...all of it. It is so easy to put friendships on the "back burner." This was a great post, and MOPS is an amazing program!

Lana said...

Earlier this evening I was talking to a friend of mine of how since I've been a mom I've pretty much "introverted" myself. I know that it's more common than not, but I feel such relief reading not only your post, but the other comments as well.

BTW - before our phone call was done we made plans to get together for coffee tomorrow (today! GAH! It's late!!) which is huge for me. I too struggle with the "Am I going to say the wrong thing?" or "will they accept me?" And here "they" are quite possibly wondering the same! HA! I feel I'm babbling now, so off to bed I go!!

MAMA CEO said...

Awwww...you're too sweet! Thanks for thinking of me! I have a ton of posts to write about, but each time I sit down I blank out or get distracted~ AHHHHHH :0! I'll get on it soon!

Kim said...

As usual, your post has struck a chord.

I've been thinking lately about friendships IRL vs the blogosphere. I think that we serious bloggers need to guard against the illusion that the blogging community fills the need for friendship—it's a delicate balance, because we can make real connections through our writing but they're just not the same as face-to-face, daily life relationships.

KATE said...

I do MOPS too, and we had the same discussion. And man, I've been there with ya, with being in crisis mode and everything falling apart....it all seems to work out in the end though as long as you resolve to stick it out. Isolation is sometimes just too easy of a cop-out.

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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