Wait for Me
When Ezra was about 2 years old, an older friend gave a group of us young parents a bit of encouragement. "I will give you a prophecy," he said with a smile. "One day you will finish dinner. You will say to your children, 'Clean the kitchen,' and you will go on a walk with your spouse." We all laughed a little too hard because of course we were so relieved to hear it! It's hard to imagine any independence when you're in the thick of diapers and finger foods. Even though I volunteered to head back into the weeds by having Bran (now 16 months), I do see flashes of what is to come. Yesterday my oldest boy successfully cleaned a bathtub and the other two cleaned out my car. Chores are not the only goal, though. I also see them (every now and then!) work out fights on their own and help each other!
Today, I want to offer yet another prophecy of comfort to young moms like me. (I realize that my oldest is only 8 and that I have lightyears to go, but I do have the start of the journey well undertaken.) Here's what I got: Your relationships with other women, your friends, will still be there when you come up for air.
This post began in my mind a few weeks ago as more of a plea:
Wait for me! I will wait for you! When I'm nursing the baby and have to leave early, go ahead: stay out longer with the other girls. I will try not to be jealous and trust that you still like me too. When you can't come away with us for the night or show up for every event because your kids need you, I'll miss you and look forward to the time when you can come again. Don't worry; it isn't the same without you. If my days are full of carpool, homework, and basic care and maintenance of my home, my people, and (hopefully) myself and I'm too tired to have a long phone conversation or even text you back past 9pm, please know that I am thinking about you. I'm also hoping I can trust you to have perspective on our lives. We cannot have the kind of clingy friendships that always felt so good, so reassuring, back before we had kids. Maybe the best way I can be a friend to you now is to keep asking, keep checking in, and yet to keep being disappointed that you aren't available; I'll still be excited to call the next time. That's what I want you to do for me. In giving space to each other to do the hard work of parenting, we are empowering each other to love our families and put them first. After all, we want these kids to be willing to join in every now and then for Happy Hour someday! I love your children for their own sakes, but also because I love you. I want you to have all the time in the world with each other! Even though we can commiserate that it feels like it's taking FOR-E-VER, we know they won't need us like this for long. But me? I'll be here when they grow up, and we'll pick up right where we left off. Really, though, we aren't leaving anything off; we're just letting our friendship change for a little while. Let's not get weird on each other. Deal? Wait for me, and I'll wait for you.
This past weekend, a few friends and I were able to seize a rare moment and get away together for two nights! We talked, ate good food, shared wine, swam, and steamed. It was glorious, but the best part was the discovery that we are richer women for each other to lean on and draw from than we were before. Having each entered the crucible of motherhood, the refinement that is being done left each of my friends looking more golden than ever before. None of us is perfect, but I could see our changes. The time together did make me sad that we don't have more opportunities to consistently hang out and have uninterrupted conversation (my one friend of 9 years and I realized that we had NEVER had a long, one-on-one convo without kids somewhere in the vicinity!). However, it was such fantastic, honest time together that it was truly worth the wait, and just made me all the more excited to keep waiting through each in-between time. I am dreaming of the conversations we can have when we are 60.
So... wait for it... Wait for it. Yeah, that's it: wait for it. One of the hardest things about becoming a mother is fumbling through what it does to all your relationships, and loneliness sucks. Give yourself and your friends some credit, though! You picked each other for good reasons. Trusting is scary, and so is hope. The risk of being disappointed is a major deterrent. Do it anyway. Believe that you are still friends and still care about one another and keep making the small efforts that tighten your tethers to each other. And, when your family is ready, leave them for a day or two! They will live, and the prize is worth it!
And (you know me) hear this caveat: some friendships do fall apart. Some misunderstandings and tectonic shifts are too dramatic to be easily overcome. You should cry about those ones. Chances are, though, that there is more good and connection left than you think. Texting is easy. A quick: "I realize we never talk or see each other (and I'm not sure when that will really start up again!) but I just want you to know that I still like you so very much!" feels good. Wouldn't it feel good to you?