It happened – I am jealous of my six-year old. I was on the playground watching him play before school. There was a group of ten or so, running up and around the jungle gym having the best time. As I sat on the bench, I kept getting more and more grumpy, thinking how envious I was of where he was in life. He didn’t have to rearrange schedules, find babysitters, or have fragmented phone conversations over screaming kids. There was no drama, no pain, no work. He just goes to school and his friends are waiting there for him to just enjoy life.
As the bell rings, he runs over for our good-bye ritual, I ask him, “Hey, so who were your friends over there?” He responded, “I dunno, just friends.”
“But you have played with them every morning, and you don’t know their names?” He shrugged and went off to class. Curious, I began to investigate the rest of the week. His closer companions, sure he knew their names, but that was pretty much the extent of his information. He did not know their birthdays, favorite colors, if they had brothers or sisters, food preferences, what made them laugh, or what made them sad. His best friend got a bit better, but still surprising.
Over the week, I became less jealous. I realized my friendships have been forged in the fires of life. I have a great time with my friends, but as I grew older, I realized that having superficial friendships was more hurt than fun. Sure, we had fun laughing at stupid jokes or hanging out, but when life got hard, they were nowhere near me. Sure, there was no drama or stress face-to-face, but there was no substance to what we had. On the flip side, I was not always the best friend to them. I let the business of life, hobbies, or even stupid squabbles add distance to relationships I wish I still had. I let the fire die out of great friendships in high school or early college because I chose not to cultivate it.
Friendships during motherhood is a lot of work. It is hard to get together and be real when all you want to do is sleep. You start writing a text, and then your child spills a bag of flour or needs to pee, or laundry is getting wrinkled just chilling on your bed, or dinner is needing to be made, or you haven’t had a date with your husband in months. However, as I move into the stage where my kids are in school, I have more time on my hands to cultivate friendships; but if I didn’t invest in them during the hard times, I would not have a harvest waiting for me. The friendships of women who went through the fires with me, and we came out on the other side together.
I asked my grandma for her perspective on friendships as she reaches the age of ninety of which I want to leave with you:
I have friends who I have had for several decades. We have lived through so much…yet they are always there. We pray together, fellowship, help, and encourage each other. We have developed a bond to each other that is unbreakable. They keep me alert, needed, understood, blessed and fill my last days with laughter and kindness. I am that friend to them. We do not always agree, but I always remember their heart and who it belongs to – Jesus. Remember to see Jesus in your friends, and your friendships will bloom into a tree that always has fruit.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. –Proverbs 18:24
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. –Colossians 3:12-14