We’ve all had that week. The week where all the responsibilities, sign-ups, and mom things just fall at one time. Although I have rough days regularly, I have that week more often than I wish. In these times, I’m reminded that I don’t have to manage alone, and in the words of the great John Lennon and Paul McCartney, I get by with a little help from my friends.
There is a lot of emphasis on your “squad” these days. I’m no Taylor Swift and I’ve NEVER been any kind of cool, but I do get where this idea of a squad comes from. I tend to believe, that unlike Taylor Swift and unlike what I read about the typical “mom squad,” I have a beautiful collection of friends that represent far more about me than motherhood alone, and I hold them dear to my heart. There have been seasons of my life where I felt starved for the energy of a good friend, and I am learning to embrace the friendships that I have – no matter the depth, reason, or the person.
Sure, they ebb and flow with time, but I crave all types of friendship, not one squad or type. Truly, the only reason I look remotely functional is through the support of relationships I’ve built. I absolutely get by with a little help from my friends.
I have old friends – childhood and college friends. These are the ones who can look at me now and be grateful I learned how to use a hair straightener to control the frizzy mess of hair I have. They may remember the green wire-rimmed glasses and wide tooth-gap smile. They remember elementary, middle <shudder>, high school, and college me. They saw me agonize over relationships that weren’t meant to be. These are the people I probably see and talk to the least, but there is a bond that will last. We have history, and these friends are woven into my present and future, because I am who I am, in part, because of their influence.
I have mature friends (I refuse to call them old) – friends who have experienced more life than I have. These sweet people provide a wealth of knowledge and a strong example, and I long for their wise counsel and support. I can look to them and see that I will survive <whateverthisphaseoflifeis>. I see a grace and calm in them that I hope I have one day. These friends are quick to give a word of encouragement, a hug, or an offer to babysit. I try to take advantage of all three.
I have young friends. These friends are dear to my heart, and they’ve come into my life through various ways. They keep me young and allow me to giggle about things that are often technically frowned upon by normal grown-ups. They make me feel wise, when really I just have traveled the road they are on before. Besides, if we all need older, more mature friends, we need to open ourselves up to be that older friend for someone else, right?
I do have mom (and dad) friends. These friends have kids, and my kids love their kids. I don’t always like all kids, but I like their kids! Part of the reason I like their kids is because I can offer direction to them and pseudo-parent them without fear of hurting someone’s feelings, and I expect them to do the same for me. We compare bonehead parenting moves and I’m-gonna-kill-them glances. We commiserate and we exchange stories. We belly laugh, we worry, and we offer to help. And we share meals a lot – mostly pizza, hotdogs, and birthday cake.
I have new friends. New friends are hard because new friendships are clunky. You’re navigating how you fit into each other’s lives and you’re learning each other’s life stories. You open up sometimes and you agonize over offering help or worry that you said something that might hurt someone’s feelings. These are hard, but they turn into beautiful relationships where they are well tended. Sometimes it happens by accident, and sometimes it takes work.
I have virtual friends, and I use that term loosely because they are virtual only in the fact that we have not met face to face. In reality, they provide encouragement in many of the same ways as those I spend a lot of physical time with. As a blogger for Chattanooga Moms Blog, I have been thrust into a network of other ladies, most of whom I did not know before beginning this journey. Not knowing or having met them has not kept them from encouraging and supporting me. I know many people who have built strong partnerships with those they have never met based on a common interest or need, and those friendships are valid and valuable too! We live in a world where people far away from us can bring great connection and enjoyment to our lives.
I have framily – friends who are also family. I love them because they are family and that’s what you do, but I also like them. Having family that feel more like friends can make any wedding, birthday party, baby dedication, and even funeral more fun. Friends who are also family give you someone to roll your eyes with at a family function and someone to watch your back when there’s a casserole with mayonnaise in it (this is crucial in my world). I am fortunate enough to have framily that are blood relatives and in-laws, and I would recommend family dynamics to anyone – it just makes life so much sweeter.