Here’s a secret. I am usually awkward at making friends and I am sometimes a bad friend.
I want to be a good friend. I know I’m capable. But friendship takes effort and care and cultivation and I often find myself wondering what the point is, really. Is it worth the energy?
We live in a city that feels a lot like a small town. Most of the people we meet already have a friend group that they grew up with or have known forever, or they’re really close with family so friends aren’t a big necessity. We’ve enjoyed pockets of friendship here and there, but it has been a sort of desert for us for the most part. (This is a little more complicated than time and space allow for in this platform. Also, to those of you who have been friends to us, thank you. You are not neglected here.)
When I got pregnant, I thought to myself, Maybe now I’ll have better friends because I’ll have something in common with all my friends who are moms (we were pretty late to the kid game and/or our friends were mostly older than us). But that didn’t really happen either. Turns out people who’ve done the baby thing aren’t super anxious to go back to the baby thing (which I understand because, I am currently doing the baby thing). Also, people in different life stages are notoriously bad at remembering what previous life stages have been like. It takes a ton of intentionality to care for someone in a completely different place than you… I know because I am also very bad at it. No judgment or hard feelings here.
The first two months of Bethany’s life felt so isolating. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, I was lonely and panicky and wondering if anything Bethany was doing was normal or if I had any hope of figuring anything out. Would there ever be a day when I would feel normal again or would life just continue to be a chaotic mess?
I remembered my birth class and wondered to myself what all those girls were doing. We’d all given birth in late January- February, so we were right in step with each other baby-wise. I figured I would try to find one or two of them on Facebook and just see if they might have a coffee with me.
I tracked down Karissa and we started walking together once a week for a while. Her second baby is just four days younger than Bethany and it was so nice to have a mom friend who had done this before, but recently.
Then I caught up with Sarah, also a second timer. We clicked instantly, with similar senses of humour: dripping in sarcasm with a knack for finding just the right gif. The first time we hung out we talked for hours like we’d been friends forever.
Not long after that, with fingers a little shaky, I asked… What do you think about doing a monthly moms’ night out?
Let’s do it!
Karissa had been hanging out with Andrea from our class, so she was invited too, which is where I met her. Our first night together went better than I’d ever imagined. We talked about baby weight and nursing struggles and how hard the adjustment was for each of us. Most importantly, we encouraged one another and laughed together. Karissa and Sarah offered good perspective to us first timers, and we all took heart in not being alone in our difficult moments.
We’ve been rotating houses each month, heading out to someone’s place once all the kids are down for the night, and talking about life and babies and in-laws and tonight, the high school boys who broke our hearts and how all our babies are growing too fast. A few weeks ago our midwives hosted a reunion for everyone they delivered in the past year, so a few more girls from class were there. I contacted Ranita shortly after that and I invited her to join our little group hang this week. We had a blast.
It has been years since I’ve sat in a room full of women and giggled about high school, busted a gut over some embarrassing stupid thing I did, or just put up my hands to say, Amen, girl. You are not alone.
In just a few months I went from virtually no friends to a room full. I took one of them dinner last week when sickness knocked her flat, and next week one of them is bringing me dinner after my surgery. Another of us turns 30 in a month and we plan to celebrate that together. And just like that, the foundations for long term friendship can be laid. Even if this just turns out to be a season for us, it will have been worth every single ounce of energy.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned that I need to preach to myself over and over:
If you want a friend, you can ask for a friend and be a friend. Chances are, someone out there needs you, too. Sometimes it means being the one to make the first move and put yourself out there. If you get lucky, it might just stick.
Having people in the same life stage as you is invaluable. Of course you want people in your life from all ages and stages, but look around you. Who is in the trench fighting the same war? Those are your people. Get with them.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself right out of the gate. Don’t wait to see how someone perceives you, don’t wait until you’re four coffees deep, don’t wait to see what kind of person they are. Just bring it all to the table. Be confident in who God made you to be. We are made for relationships which means we need each other. You need me, just like I need you.
Insert yourself. Invite yourself. Insist on doing something nice. Be the one to show up in sweatpants as a sign of trust that the other person won’t judge you. Ask, ask, ask again, until you make things happen.
The cultivation is worth the time investment. Ask good questions and listen to the answers. Take note of what is important to someone, and give space for them to share whatever they might want to share. And always be willing to share your heart reciprocally, or even better, go first.
I hoped to make one new friend before I turn 30. I am over the moon that I have found myself with an abundance of lovely women who I am thankful to call friends. Thank you for being in this season with me, ladies.
#31. Make a new friend. Check.