I gave up a lot to have kids.
Sleep. A social life. The right to choose not to watch Yo Gabba Gabba. My waistline. Privacy while going to the bathroom. The ability to stay in bed for an entire weekend and read a novel. A bubble bath without two little ones splashing next to me. Pretty much any time for myself. The ability (and the desire) to party like it’s 1999.
All that is gone. And more.
And I don’t care. Not one little bit. My boys were worth giving all of that up for, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
However, in my continual journey towards regaining my health, I am constantly being reminded how important it is to take care of me. And this means finding time for sleep, and maybe locking the door while I go to the bathroom so I can breathe for a minute, and making time for things that I love like crochet or cooking or reading. But lately I have been thinking a lot about how desperately mamas need to make time for friendships.
Some women are naturally fantastic at this and even after they have kids they don’t struggle to maintain or make friendships, but I think that for most of us, after having kids things change drastically and things that used to be a huge priority suddenly take a back seat. We don’t do this on purpose, it just seems to happen.
Suddenly we’re showering every 2 (or 3) days instead of every day, we’re only putting makeup on for very special occasions, sweat pants and a t-shirt become our uniform, and most of our hobbies become distant memories. And sometimes, probably far too often, our time that was once devoted to making and maintaining friendships is now monopolized by changing diapers, chasing toddlers, and trying to keep the baby from killing the dog.
Any phone dates that are even attempted are usually destroyed by a full-blown tantrum or a skipped nap. Playdates are a nice idea, when you can organize them around each child’s nap schedule, make sure everyone is healthy, and actually get everyone out the door and into the car. After a while, when your energy is waning, something has to give, and all too often, because we HAVE to feed the kids and make sure they get bathed every so often, we allow our friendships to become less of a priority.
This is not okay.
Our kids are wonderful, make no mistake, but carrying on a conversation about the plot line of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is not adult conversation. And while playing in a blanket fort is a blast, and our kiddos will forever be our favorite people, we cannot let ourselves feel guilty for making time for friendships. We are women, we are people, we are individuals, and as much as our life and our hearts are completely devoted to being mamas and we wouldn’t trade it for the world, we can’t give ourselves up in the process.
We need to choose to fight for our friendships. Old or new. Near or far. We need to realize how badly we NEED our friendships and we need to make sure they stay at the top of our priority list.
I am so incredibly blessed by the women in my life. I am lucky enough to have friendships that don’t change, no matter how long we go between phone calls or seeing each other face to face. I have friendships with women who I know love me deeply and who would do anything for me and my family, and I would do the same for them. I have friendships where I can walk through their front door, any time of the day or night, no knocking required, and help myself to whatever is in the fridge and plop on the couch and stay for as long as I want. I have friendships that are so real and so honest that some people might wonder if we even like each other (I assure you we do). I have women in my life who will tell me when I am wrong and who challenge me to be better. These same women love me more fiercely than I ever thought was possible and they would move mountains to make sure that I am happy and healthy. I have friendships where we can sit and not say a word for hours and it is not at all awkward, I have friendships where we can argue loudly one second and the next second we are laughing and hugging and both of those things are totally normal.
I have friendships that I would never have even dared to hope for before they came along. They are a bright, shiny, sparkly, gift in my life. I do not take these friendships for granted for even one second, but I can admit that I do not always make sure they are at their rightful place on my priority list.
This does not mean for even one second that they are not deeply loved and cherished by me.
But, as I said, sometimes when we become mamas, some of the most important things in our lives, some of the things that make us who we are, get shoved to the side so that we can be the “best possible mama”. But I’m here to tell you that without deep, wonderful relationships in your life to keep you sane, to encourage and build you up, to hold your arms up when you are weak and for you to be able to do all of those things for them, you will eventually run out of steam emotionally, mentally, probably physically, and you will see that striving to be super mom is futile and we are so much stronger when we do life together.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
So today I am choosing to grab my priority list and to rewrite FRIENDSHIPS right back up there at the top with all of the other most important things in my life. I’m writing it in permanent marker and I’m making sure those relationships get the time they need and deserve.
I’m not going to shy away from friendships because phone dates are hard to keep and long distance and time differences are frustrating. I’m not going to shy away from new friendships because, well let’s face it, making new friends is WORK but it is so worth it in the end. I’m not going to avoid new friendships because I’m afraid I don’t measure up somehow or I am not as good of a mom as they are. I’m just going to be myself, I’m going to love deeply, laugh loudly, and work hard to build strong, wonderful relationships with the people who have been placed in my life.
If this blog brought the picture of a dear friend into your mind who you haven’t talked to in too long, or if your heart is aching a little bit because you fear maybe you have lost some of those friendships that you once held so dear, there is hope! Let’s take this blog as a challenge to start fighting harder for our friendships and I guarantee that our lives will be fuller, richer, and a lot more beautiful because of it.
Pick up the phone, call your friend even though in her time zone it might be past bed time. Go ahead and keep a phone date even though your kids will probably be screaming in the background the entire time. Invite that mom you met briefly at church or the grocery store over for a play date, she’s probably feeling just as hungry for friendship as you are. Go ahead and talk to that other mama sitting at the park, don’t pretend to be busy on your smart phone, ask her about her kiddos, find out something about her, maybe leave with a new friend. Pursue the friendships that have presented themselves to you through the wonders of modern technology, you can be friends with someone you never would have met without facebook or instagram, what an amazing thing that is! Have your girlfriends come over to your house after the kiddos are in bed and sit and talk for hours and hours, even though you’ll be exhausted when the kids wake up in the morning, at least your soul will be refreshed.
And when you’re with these friends, don’t try to make it sound like you have it all together, like you’re super mom. Talk about the wonderful things in your life, but also talk about the tough things, the days that being a mom is too overwhelming, the days that you dream about your kid free days for just a second, laugh together, cry together, LOVE each other.
We all need friends who are over three feet tall and don’t need our help going to the potty.
It makes us better mamas.
Oh Kelsey, I just cried reading your latest post. Every sentence spoke right to my heart and to the journey I have felt God nudging me towards the last couple of months. I’m sitting here in my trackies (Aussie for sweatpants!) shoving food into my children’s grubby faces, waiting for my hubby to get home from work. I feel so much of what you have described, it is uncanny. But then, it is probably NOT so uncanny – I think motherhood can have the tendency to isolate, just as much as it has the capacity for enormous growth, joy and new adventures – and there are probably many more mothers that feel this way than we even know. I think maybe it’s one of the tricks of the enemy. We strive to do it all ourselves, we compete (even subconsciously), we judge, we put on a brave face, we dress our children up for church. We forget we were created to live in thriving, pulsing community whose heart beats for equality, mercy, honesty. We forget that we aren’t the only ones who’s children mightn’t bathe for a week, wear a nappy for a little too long or watch a little too much tv. We forget the things we used to find fun (I know I certainly have). And so, I just want to thank you for your honesty, for NOT putting on a brave (what’s that all about, anyway!?) and for sharing your heart. Even from across the other side of the world your story and your words are touching hearts. So please, keep doing what you are doing! Your genuine spirit is so refreshing 🙂
Bree, Thank you so much for your words. You are truly the sweetest and I feel like our hearts really understand each other. It is so difficult to be a mother sometimes but also the one thing we wouldn’t trade for the world. But we cannot do it all alone and I feel so strongly that people need to stop trying to doing alone and to lean on each other for support and laughter and a reminder that it’s OKAY to not be perfect. Thank you for encouraging me with your words, I am so thankful to have found a friend like you, even from all the way on the other side of the world, I am touched by your sweet spirit. lots of love! xoxo Kelsey
but you would help me pee if i needed you to.
I love you!
Deeply that is!
You bet I would. In a heart beat.
So beautiful. So true. Do listen to Bree and “keep doing what you are doing.” And, as always, thank you for putting your thoughts out there for the rest of us. We empty nesters need to be reminded of this too. I’m no longer tempted to neglect my friends in pursuit of the unreachable goal of Super Mom – too late for that! – but the insistent tug to do more, be more, earn more, produce more, or somehow “make up for all that you lack” never goes away. Your post reminds me of a lovely book by Dee Brestin called The Friendships of Women. I’d suggest you read it, but then, you could have written it!
Thanks Auntie Jill! I am going to look that book up, I am far from an expert in that category, I just have a heart to see women love each other and encourage each other! I’m glad it was a good reminder to you as well! I miss you and love you! xoxo