I remember being in middle school (wretched, awful experience) and finding out that the girl I complimented every day was telling people that she thought I was annoying. I was heartbroken. Mama had raised me to say nice things to people, and to have good manners. I complimented this girl’s outfits and hair. She looked awesome, and cute, and perfect, so I told her so. I remember another girl, who was quiet, but in with the “in crowd” softly defending me. In hindsight, I can see how precarious her situation was, defending the annoying girl to one of the a-list girls. At the time, I was just grateful that another girl kind of “got me” and said so. This girl and I ended up moving to the same high school together, in a different state, and we became tight, best friends. She and I still keep in touch.
I have one other girlfriend that I’ve known since childhood, since she and I were ten years old. We are still close, and I think of her often. She is one of my son’s godmothers (he has two). Both of these ladies were in my wedding. They were among the first to find out I was pregnant. And, thank goodness for Facebook, because we are able to live on the fringes of each others’ lives since they are in California, and I’m here in Virginia.
There are several types of friends, aren’t there? I am so grateful for the many people that have been a part of my life. There have been many that arrive right on time, it seems, to be there just for me. Because I’m Christian, I truly believe these friends are purposefully put in my path, and me in their path. Nothing is accidental. I’m always baffled at the details of my relationships that coincide with people that I may have just met, or have known forever.
Sometimes, relationships with other women are just plain difficult. The dynamic becomes toxic. I had a friend that I truly loved and cared for, and I still do, but we had to separate for my health and sanity. It really felt like “breaking up is hard to do.” I felt terrible, because emotionally I was so invested, but I also was becoming so enmeshed in her life, that I was neglecting my own. The relationship just had to change. Some people are just hard to love, and hard to let go.
Couple friends are important to marriage as well. Mark has friends, and I have friends, but there are a few couples that we love together. The soul loving and encouraging relationships that keep us encouraged and keep us encouraging others is so, so important to a marriage and, of course, to the individual. When marriage becomes difficult, you need couples that can come alongside of you to mentor and love you through tight spots. We need to be able to reciprocate that, as well. Marriage is altogether hard enough; friends help us laugh, cry, and mourn the hard stuff of life.
I think every woman should have (at least) one person in her life who is not a superficial girlfriend. I don’t mean superficial as fake, either, I just mean that as a face-value type of friend. I think having women in your life that can encourage you and be honest with you, and you can do for them in return is essential for what I like to call, “doing life.” I have friends in my life that are like accountability partners with me. When times are hard, these ladies can say to me, “what is true about your situation?” When times are great, they are celebrating with me; when things are not so great, they are praying over me, and lifting me up. To be able to cheer one another along in mothering, mentoring, family-raising, and marriage-building is a gift I wish every woman can have. Reciprocity and accountability help me to be better. My hope is that everyone has at least one other woman that they can partner with to live life well.
Motherhood is beautiful and terrifying. Maintaining the health and well-being of a marriage is tough love. Make some friends that will help you, and that you can help in return in this journey of parenthood and family-raising. Love is a long road. It’s nice to have friends along for the ride.
Keep calm, love your friends, and parent on!