There is a lot to be said about the season in life which I’m in currently – the stereotypical tired mother with little time for personal discovery, let alone time to brush my teeth. Like many other busy and sleep deprived parents in a similar circumstance, this phase of motherhood can become lonely. Caring for and loving my children is an incredible blessing, but gone are the days of coffee dates with friends or lengthy phone conversations with friends “just to catch up.” Now, most of my conversations are with little ones who don’t know how to tie their shoes or their left hand from their right. I miss the wonderful women in my life who have stood by and inspired me with their kindness, their faith, and their humbleness.
From what I’ve gathered this loneliness is a part of my journey through parenting, and I know that it will one day pass. I also know I will miss these days of snotty noses and poopy diapers. I will wish I could return to these moments when I was the center of my boys’ world and revisit the days when they thought my awkward dance moves were impressive and my coloring skills – legendary. But still, I miss my friends.
Since I’m not chatting with my friends nearly as much as I used to, I’ve had a lot more time to think about the notion of my expectations when it comes to friendship. When I first discovered I was pregnant I knew things would change – nights would be long, years would be short, and tiny hands would forever have a hold of my heart. What I did not foresee happening were the weeks that stretched into months of not communicating with some of my best friends. Some of the women who I considered almost as close as family. The lack of communication had only to do with me being a new mom, since there was no falling out between us. The hours I was awake were hours spent nursing a baby, making soft-chew food suitable for teething little ones, or trying to tackle a load of laundry. I neglected my friendships, admittedly I am still neglecting them, and that was something I never expected from myself. And yet selfishly, I hold my close friends to a high standard.
I have very few close friends, and those women who I count among them have proven themselves to be faithful, ambitious, honest, vulnerable, selfless, intelligent and kind-hearted, and they give freely to the friendship whenever they can. If they too have children and we only speak once every three months, we make the most of that time. Our conversations are hardly light-hearted – we get down to brass tax after general pleasantries. We express ourselves, we pray for one another, and I know if they or I ever needed anything the other would be there as expeditiously as possible. I love these women for not “cutting me off” because of my apparent lack of time devoted to our friendship. They are steadfast and unwavering. We share a friendship that exceeds my expectations.
After I had graduated from college, however, I did not show some of the people in my life the same courtesy or grace. I chose to part ways with many people who I considered close friends, mainly because I felt like the friendship was one sided. From where I was standing, I invested more into the relationship than the other person and time and time again; I was the one left with hurt feelings. With some of those friends I tried to articulate my feelings, but their behavior would repeat itself. The stage after college seemed as good a time as any to make a clean break and I left those friendships behind me. I don’t wish any of those people ill will, in fact, I look back on those times fondly, but I couldn’t continue to put my heart through the hardships of those friendships.
Perspective hit me years later. In mass one day the priest mentioned how Jesus, in His abundant love and omniscience, chose Judas to be among his closest of confidants. He was a chosen disciple, one of the Twelve, and one might even assume a close friend to Christ. Jesus knew how it would end and He still befriended Judas. He still allowed Judas to sit at the table and He fostered a friendship. Jesus knew he would be disappointed and ultimately betrayed, and yet he poured his fully human heart into the relationship. Jesus’s friendship exceeded ALL expectations.
My past friends never actually betrayed me, and if they did it was certainly not on a biblical scale. I was just letting those friendships go to protect my heart. My actions were cowardice and so un-Christ-like. Jesus allowed himself to love regardless of the consequences. Today, time and distance have almost entirely dissolved those old bonds, but I have certainly learned my lesson; friendships are worth fostering regardless of their ultimate consequence.
I am grateful to my friends – the women who have weathered this storm of motherhood with me, the ones who have been resilient even though I have been almost entirely absent, those who have shown me a grace that I can learn from; one that I will try in the future to emulate. I may be lonely at this stage of life but I know I’m not alone their Christ-like friendship, that exceeds expectations, helps sustain me.