My priorities shifted 8 years ago when I found out I was growing a human inside my body. There was the obvious (hopefully) shifts like switching beer for H2O and being more mindful of what I was fueling my body with. There was the nature forced shifts like getting more rest. All of these seemed easy…because it was no longer about me…it was about the life growing inside me.
And then there were the other shifts. Character shifts that weren’t something I’d planned for. Spending time with girlfriends looked completely different. If it even happened.
I remember when my friends were having children…long before I did. I became distant. I slipped away. Kids weren’t my thing…so I found people (usually younger than me) who were doing my thing (usually partying all night and hungover all day). Sure my friends who had kids were still friends…but the dynamics of our friendship had changed. Mostly because of my indifference and ignorance when it came to children. I missed them…but I didn’t do anything about it.
Looking back at those days, I don’t believe in regret…and let’s be honest, I had fun. But looking back, knowing what I know now as a mother, I wouldn’t’ve distanced so far. Sure…they got by…and who am I to think that they needed me. But I sure needed them. I needed them then and I still need them now.
Making friends as a mother isn’t easy…if it ever is easy. Thinking about school days, at first glance it seemed easy. But when I really just sit in those memories…it took just as much courage then to make new friends as it does now. And perhaps even more courage (then and now) to maintain friendships.
Our lives, mothers or not, become more complex the older we get. Sure, maybe there’s more at stake, but it’s more than that. It’s that there is more to juggle. Time seems more valuable. And giving it to other people…people other than our families and colleagues sometimes seems selfish.
I’m here to declare that my time is NOT more valuable at 38 than it was at 8. Sure, I have more things to juggle…more lives to consider. But MY time is just that…MINE. And with all of those other things that require my attention…family, work, housework, yardwork, cooking (which, let’s be honest, my hubby does most of) and whatever else yanks and pulls at me on any given day…I need my friends more.than.ever.. I need to laugh…to cry…to scream…to hug and hold…to smile and to just be silent. I need to be free to be me. Not mom, wife, daughter, sister…but ME.
I am blessed to have some great women in my life who I call friends. Who I can feel confident that I am not being judged when I divulge that we had chips for lunch…or I flew off the handle again and screamed at my 3-year-old. Friends that will console me when I share intimate details about an argument with my husband…or mother. Friends that will sit in silence with me and just be.
But life is ever changing and now that I’m home most days with my 3-year-old while most of my friends are working I find myself longing for people to connect with during the day. So the other day I stepped out of my comfort zone (which is both exhilarating and terrifying for me) and I joined a moms group. A physical one…not a virtual one. One where we BRING our children and care is provided.
We talked about having a 3:00a.m. person. Someone who, if we call them at 3:00 in the morning, they’ll pick up the phone. They’ll talk us down from a ledge. Or just gently listen as we get everything out of our racing mind so we can both go back to sleep. Someone who will be there for you…like REALLY be there when you NEED them. We talked about setting and communicating expectations and boundaries in friendships. And we talked about the heartbreak of friendship breakups. Some women cried. We all laughed (not at the women crying…in general we laughed…we laughed in general).
So I leave you with this: Do you have a 3:00a.m. person? Do they know that you expect (or better yet NEED) them to answer the phone when you call?
I am no expert…except when it comes to me and my own needs (even then I’m not sure I’m expert-level yet)…and I know, from experience, that it takes great courage and trust and a whole lot of LOVE to put yourself out there in friendship. And I also know that the reward of friendship is right up there with the reward of raising a child. It’s a gift with boundless potential and endless love. And we all could use a little more love in our lives.
I would LOVE to know your thoughts on friendship and the 3:00a.m. concept. Drop a comment..or better yet, come join us in The Village where we chat about all things life, through a #momlens.