A friend, by definition, is someone you know, like, and trust. It’s someone with whom you might be allied in a during a struggle or cause. It’s someone who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement that you also support, sympathize, or patronize. I like the graphic above because it seems like a really good recipe for success in a friendship.
This week at Growing up Last, we’ll be talking about friendship and friends. I’m still learning about friendship and the way some friendships change with age—and with parenthood. I’ve been the one standing by watching as my siblings and best friends became parents and I remained childless—trying to fit myself into their schedules of soccer games and birthday parties. I’ve also been the mother trying to maintain friendships with those friends who had no children when I couldn’t find the babysitter, money, or energy for the late nights—whether it was cocktails or concerts.
But let’s be honest: FRIENDSHIP ISN’T ALWAYS ABOUT PARENTING…IS IT?
I think being a parent makes it easy to get to busy, to drift apart, and to make excuses as to why certain people enter or exit our lives. I also think that having a child begins to crystallize our own values and morals in such a way that we start to see what we want to invest our time in—what PEOPLE we want to invest our time in. We realize that every interaction we have affects our child and, whether we do it consciously or not, we get a bit choosier about our interactions. I know that even when I had no children, sometimes the way that people behaved as we “grew up” made me uncomfortable enough to start re-evaluating the bonds that had linked me to them to start with. This happened more frequently when I became a parent but the evaluation itself largely remained unchanged.
I am blessed to have a few friends, though in all fairness if you’ve been my friend for more than five years you’ve probably been assimilated into my family. I’m not an easy woman to be friends with and my husband would probably say that’s because I go “all in” whenever I befriend someone and that doesn’t always get reciprocated. I’m passionate, I’m complicated, I’m difficult, and I often speak my mind more than I listen. It has ruined a lot of potentially great friendships, I’m not proud to admit. It’s also built one hell of a family.
When I want people that I can count on, that I share common interests with, that stick around through the hard stuff, and that celebrate the happy times, I need family. If I want people who challenge me in ways that help me grow and who support me when I need it most (and maybe deserve it least)—I need family. That’s why I think I have been let down by friendships in the past—I’ve expected too much—and why I find my friendships of long duration so rewarding: they met these requirements. And they get the same exact thing from me.
In the past few months, I’ve decided to start letting a lot off things go—including relationships that I’ve hung on to for too long that have hurt more than helped. I’m going to focus a lot more energy in sustaining the family I’m building (through blood, marriage, or choice) and I’m going to expect far less of my ‘friends.’ I think if I gave my friends in real life the same grace I gave to my friends on the internet, life would be a lot easier.
~Marci aka Mamamusement
Thoughts on friends from GUL.