Mom: I’m worried about my son. He doesn’t have any close friends.
Me: Do you have any close friends?
Let me tell you something, when my kids were little and I was home with them constantly, those kids wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for my friends. We took turns letting our kids trash each other’s basements and tore through more frozen chicken nuggets at lunchtime than there were chickens alive on the planet (which makes you wonder what we were really feeding those kids but #whatever, they’re all still alive).
We needed each other through diaper changes and clocks that ticked fast only through nap times, and we knew our kids needed each other too. They learned life skills, like how to share their fake chicken nuggets with a friend and to celebrate each other's newfound potty skills with so much fervor that the only thing one could do besides cheer from the sidelines was to have a seat with them (what can I say, my kids are givers).
Then something happened. Our babies grew up, started school, and life moved on, leaving a hole for us where friendship used to live.
Why is it that we as moms see the need for our children to be connected in burgeoning friendships, ones that we will go to great lengths to forge for them when they’re young and encourage with great fanfare as they grow, and yet we don’t honor the same need in our own lives?
Fighting for Friendship
Once your children started school, does anyone else remember the fury of motherhood when you caught wind of a recess injustice committed against your child? Maybe it was just me, but I remember asking my kindergartner for his perpetrator’s social security number, address, weight, height, and hair color. I wanted to make sure I could take him down should we ever meet on a cold, dark rainy night at the playground.
We notice when our kids become the outcast. We notice when they come home with tears or a little blood because someone was either mean to them or someone was being mean to another kid they stood up for. We notice when they’re eating lunch alone or they don’t receive the birthday invitation that was sent to the rest of the class, and we teach them to notice the other kids and invite them in.
We notice because intuitively we know how important it is for all children’s well-being to feel included, connected, and protected, and at the slightest detection this isn’t happening, when we no longer have the majority of control over their social interactions, we’re banging down the principal’s doors demanding apologies, conferences, and the other parents’ phone numbers like we’re bouncers at the Friendship KinderClub.
And my point in all of this is to say: If friendship is inherently something we know to fight for on behalf of our kids, then why do we so easily give up the fight when it comes to ourselves?
The very definition of lapse means to become invalid when something isn’t used, claimed, or renewed. In essence, lapse means expires.
Something that had been so precious of a fixture in our lives as friendship, from the time our own mothers introduced us to playmates, through grade school and college years and into early adulthood when all we had was time for our friends, almost suddenly became obsolete once the demands of “adulting” took over. In essence, we let friendship expire, or go unclaimed and unrenewed in return for careers and the busyness of family life that is often of our own making (though admittedly there are things that happen beyond our control, but I’m speaking of self-induced busyness here).
There are so many things we teach our kids when they’re little that we hope are lifelong behaviors, things like eat your vegetables, respect others, share your possessions, and maybe it’s best if we let our friends go potty by themselves. But one thing we would never deliberately teach them is that once they get to a certain stage of life, holding people close won't be necessary anymore. They may not want to share the toilet seat (in fact, let’s not), but they will need friends who will sit down by them and cheer the loudest. It’s how they'll make it in life.
If kids learn what’s important in life by watching us, then the road to friendship for our kids starts with us. If we would never want them to be alone (and what mother would?), then we must not be. The renewal of Friendship in our lives is a gift we give to our families as a legacy of health and vitality. If it was worth the fight for your children once, then it is worth the fight again.
FLAW- Let Friendship Expire
LAW- Let Friendship Renew
Note From Tabatha
I remember the whirl of the months after my son was born as my life became somewhat new overnight.
I traded my time for this new little baby’s time clock. He told me when it was time to eat, sleep, and take a shower. (And by the way that shower didn’t happen as much as I’d like.)
My friendships began to blur in the background as this baby came to the forefront of my mind and life. At one point I looked around and realized my friends were gone. I had taken being a stay-at-home mom quite literally and had barely gotten out or reached out to my “previous life.”
I was tired, depressed, and alone. That’s when I heard God’s voice break through the baby blues and say, “Tabatha, I made you for people. It’s time to get out of this house.” I picked up the phone immediately, called an old friend and asked if I could come eat dinner with her once a week. She told me to come over right away and I did.
There were a few things that saved me from those days of blues, and the greatest of those things was friendship.
As my son grows, I pray that in the moments I feel alone, I remember God’s whisper, “You were made for people.” I pray I never allow myself to drift away like I did before or let friendships expire because I have allowed motherhood to take over, but instead I want to choose to let friendships continue to exist, to keep me from ever again slipping away so slowly. I pray the same thing for you too, dear reader.
Motherhood is precious, but so is our sanity. So as those babies of ours come, grow, and go, remember to invite your friends in along the way. Friendship has a way of keeping you grounded through it all.
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