I have this dream in my mind of the perfect friend day.
They're all there, all the friends that mean the world to me. Especially the ones that don't know it.
And on this date, I get to spend an infinite amount of time with each and every one of them, not worrying about nap time ending, or babysitters needing to go home. At this friend gathering I have a hand-written, bulleted list of all the things each friend brings to my life, and I present it to them in an envelope which I've illustrated with funny comics of the two of us together and the funny memories we share. They'll laugh at first and then they'll read my list. They'll be amazed because all the things they've ever done for me? I remember it all. They'll walk away feeling special and inspired and they'll go home and tell their husbands, "She appreciates me. She even remembered that time I told her bra strap was showing and the other time I helped her carry all her stuff to her car. She made me feel so loved."
I wish this could happen. I really do. Because I do remember. And I always harbor a bit of you-could-do-better guilt for not living up to my expectations of loving and recognizing and honoring my friends like I really want to. There just isn't time.
I think in this consumeristic, demanding time of life when kids and family and paying bills are our obvious priorities, we constantly make efforts to trim off excess responsibilities. But we need balance. When we're busy and stressed, we lighten the load of our ship by jettisoning things that aren't necessary in our schedule: T.V., naps, bubble baths. I think sometimes though, in "Time Triage," we cast off necessary things, thinking the trade-off preserves more family time. Sadly, precious time with friends is one of these.
Sometimes, we will mess up. We'll be in another place in our head when we should be focused on a relationship, we'll flub up responses, reacting too harshly or not harsh enough. We'll yell when we should have hugged, lose our cool when we should have sighed and smiled, or retreat behind an imaginary wall we've build to keep others at bay.
I have been the victim of Time Tirage in some friendships and I have to admit it hurts. It's like being dumped the night of the prom There are all the hopes and excitement, and then *wham* a budding friendship is smashed because; work demands time and our spouse and children demand our energy, we need to eat and sleep and bathing is a politically correct but no matter what the excuse it doesn't make the fact that you've been sloughed off any less painful.
I know I am not alone in this and I am not innocent. I have been the one to let friendships fade and for that I am truely remorseful. Let me tell you something. Friends. Should. Never. Be. Abandoned. If your ship needs to drop weight, throw the clothes overboard. Chuck your cell phone. Get rid of unnecessary coffee shop runs. But friends? They are the life raft on the ship. The one with the big yellow sticker that says "Do Not Tamper." And, God forbid, if your ship ever goes down...you need them. Those pretty yellow life rafts that served as decoration, fun, company, well, when the ship is in jeopardy, guess what? They inflate, just like they promise. They hold you up and take you to dry land, and if you've ever experienced it, you know never ever to take a friend for granted again.
Easier said than done. There's always too much to do and not enough time to do it, and the reality of life with jobs and kids and families truly means time with friends is going to suffer. But I'm not letting it go down out without a fight. Nuh-uh. Sure, I envision Jared watching the babe while I'm cozied up in a swanky restaurant, hugged by friends on all sides and we are laughing and sipping and leaving with the promise to meet up; same time, same place, next week. This is a four-leaf clover discovery though, a lucky encounter cherished on rare occasions. (the last girls-night-outI had was 10 months ago)
and in new mom fashion I was running late and these are the only cruddy picture I have
I love to entertain friends, but I've built up in my mind that it has to be perfect--that I can't invite people to my home unless the floors are mopped and candles are flickering and the oven's about to ding in thirty seconds, perfectly timing hot coffee cake for arriving guests. If this was the case, I'd never see friends. I've learned good friendships come with vulnerability, and some of the most beautiful conversations can indeed happen while sitting on top of two-day old smashed cheerios. But we are together, watching Addiston try to cram a book in the dvd player and laughing. I am a believer in laughter! That there should be laughter and loosing track of time, never and I mean never crickets: awkward silence when you're sitting three feet away, you might as well be on opposites sides of the globe as opposed to opposite sides of the couch. If there's tension, squash it, be honest, move forward. A good friendship can pick up where it left off whether it's been two hours or two years.
Like with these girls, we've shut down our share of restaurants catching up but it's like we've never skipped a moment.
I can't tell you how many times we've excitedly planned a girls night, a trip to the local cafe, a grey's anatamy viewing party, etc. and never followed through. We'll talk on the phone and say things like "Girls night next week, right?" and we answer, "Absolutely, can't wait," but next week means nothing unless it has a date on it, a time stamp and a commitment. Unless it's been typed into a phone calendar with an alarm the day before and a back-up alarm the day of. Time with friends is worth the effort of purposely planning dates. Better yet, make a reoccurring plan and stick to it. Like on Wednesday's I have lunch with my friend Deirdre, she's the sweetest person I know, people think we're sisters which I love because she's way hotter than me and she loves my kid and it just makes me love her even more. If we can make time to show up for doctor appointments, hair cuts and gymboree class, surely we can pencil in a good renewing moment with friends.
If it's been a long time since I've contacted a friend or I feel like I haven't done a good job at showing interest in her life or asking how things are going, sometimes I feel guilty and deal with it by further avoidance. Being forthright and honest is always the best medicine. Sometimes, it feels good to pick up the phone and call. To leave an "I've been thinking about you" message on a Facebook wall. To text a funny picture to let them know they haven't been forgotten. Or sometimes a simple apology. "I've been busy, I'm sorry I haven't been there for you." Because finding time for friends means searching for any available pockets of time. And I guarantee you, that fireside chat last night was far more replenishing than the sleep I missed.
Can I get an "amen" for how good it feels to watch your friends love your babies? This kid is my heart and soul and when you love her, you consequently just found yourself a deeper place in my own heart. Likewise, to let my friends know I love them...sometimes loving their kids is the best place to start.
Someday, I will plan that perfect day. But for now, I will continue to make efforts and find ways to nurture my friendships because they are a valuable part of my life.