The subject of friendship is one that I have wanted to broach for the longest time on my blog.
Before, I would have approached it from an angle of someone who thought she had mostly figured out how to balance having children while still maintaining friendships. My husband is wonderful at making sure that I get time out of the house. I stay connected on social media and know who goes where. I had a handle on my friendships, I thought.
Now, I’m writing this from a newly refreshed perspective. It turns out that I have much to learn about how to manage parenting children while simultaneously investing in the people who matter most to me. Go figure, someone with still much to learn!
There are a host of blog posts and online articles out there “training” child-less people on how to approach their friends who are parents. They state what their expectations should and shouldn’t be, how to be courteous and understanding of their parenting friends and their new needs. I am one person that loved those articles. I thought that they were incredibly useful and they even validated some part of me.
That is until I actually sat down and talked to a friend of mine who isn’t a parent. She was warm and humble, non-accusatory and thoroughly recognized that she indeed did not have a clue about what it means to be a parent. That she knows it is something that she can’t fully understand until if and when she makes that journey for herself. She also pointed out, though, how left of center all of that talk makes her feel.
Hanging around a group of parents when you yourself are not a parent can feel like you are hanging around a group of physicists, engaged in a full-on conversation about their work. Or like any person would feel amongst a group of people who are having a conversation in an entirely different language. I remember feeling that way as some of my friends made the transition to becoming a parent. How left behind I sometimes felt, and how insignificant our relationship seemed afterwards.
Awkward. Out of place. Unappreciated. Unacknowledged.
Where’d the love go?
The truth is that there is sometimes an underlying tone to these articles: parents are the ones doing worthwhile work and you’re not, and it’s just not something that you’ll ever understand.
Even from my little blog, in my small corner of the inter-web, I couldn’t help but wonder, and have been in deep thought over it since discussing it with my friend, if I ever make people feel that way. I had always thought that though I wear the hat of motherhood, even though it is such a large part of who I am, it’s still only a part. Parenting for me is like the vast oceans all across the Earth. They cover most of it, but they’re sill only a part of it.
I’m still the same old Ashley that likes sushi, a good book, smelling shampoo and candles. I’m just softer, I can run on less sleep and might appreciate 13 minutes of silence more than pre-children Ashley might.
I’m still me.
Do I remind my friends of that fact?
I think I have failed at that last part on occasion. Or maybe even more than I have ever realized.
Moms, listen up. Because this is important.
You may be covered in spit up, day old food or God knows what else as you are reading this. You may be going on three hours of sleep. You may have a colicky baby, a toddler in the throes of the terrible two’s (three’s, four’s, five’s..) or a preteen who thinks they know way more than they actually do. You may legitimately have a lot going on. You may not feel like you have even a moment to look up from what you’re doing, but you need to.
Even if only for a minute, you need to come up for air.
Our work may be beyond a 24/7 job, but we still need to work on ways to find meaningful connections outside of the home. Your sanity inside of the home depends on it.
You need to come up for air and let the people around you love on you. Build into you. Remind you that you’re funny, and breathing and alive. Remind you that there is a life outside of the home. It takes a community to raise a child, of this much I believe. I think it also takes a community to raise up a person from the muck of every day, wipe their tears and remind them that they’re special. That they are cherished. That they are seen, and heard and noticed.
And if there is one job that I can think of where a person needs meaningful friendships, it’s motherhood. If there is one job that I can think of where a person needs a kind word, an encouraging word, a good laugh, a safe place to cry – it is motherhood. If there is one job that can be incredibly isolating, and make a person feel more alone than ever, I say passionately, that it is motherhood.
We need our friends. You need friends that you can call when you’re at your wit’s end with your children. You need friends that you can call and ask any manner of baby-related question. You also need friends that might not be so fluent in the jargon of breastfeeding talk or sleep training. You need friends from all walks to help your soul fire on all cylinders.
Confidants, sages, comforters, uplifters, jokers, effervescent dreamers and pragmatic problem solvers.
And the beautiful part? They still need you. They still have room for you.
It just all becomes a touch trickier post baby. But more worth it than ever before.