Anyone who knows me even remotely knows that there is nothing I love more than getting together with my friends.
One thing I love in particular are my coffee dates. Since becoming a stay at home mom, these coffee dates and truly – these relationships – have been fuel for my tank. I love my kids, but the daily details of motherhood tend to be pretty draining, even on the good days. The women in my life, on the other hand, offer so much refreshment. We laugh, we talk about books, we talk about tough things, we make fun of our kids (hey, you’ve gotta have a sense of humor in motherhood or the children will eat you alive).
These relationships mean the world to me and I place a high priority on maintaining my connection with these women. I work really hard at investing in not just the relationship, but in the other person. I’m not always perfect – I’m just another selfish human being like anyone else – but it’s something I’m really passionate about so I give it my best.
Last week I got to have coffee with a friend of mine who also has a newborn, and even though the conversation was constantly interrupted by Oliver and cut short by our busy schedules, it felt so good to take a few minutes to be with someone who just gets my life right now.
The following day I met with some women who I meet with each month to discuss a book we are all reading (Book club, it’s a book club.) and as always, I left our little gathering with this overwhelming sense that I could do it. I could face what I was facing, because they were all facing stuff too and we were in it together.
I have another friend who I love to talk books, culture, and family stuff with. We get together regularly for coffee and no matter what we end up talking about, I always leave with my spirits lifted. It means a lot to me to have people in my life that I can connect with on topics other than, “how was your day?” type stuff. That stuff is ok I guess, but kiiiinda boring. Let’s talk about Salinger. Let’s talk about racism. Let’s talk about the family member that is driving us bonkers (you know the one!).
And then there is another friend who is just there for life, for all it’s glorious goodness and horribleness. We go out for coffee and come home two days later wondering where the heck the last two hours went. Seriously, it’s heart-pouring, tear jerking, belly laughing good.
And then there are a dozen other people who walk in and out of my life at various – but just the right – times. And I guess the two things about friendship that I’ve learned over the years is that one, you’ve got to put the work in to get the good out. And two, you’ve got to hold friendships loosely.
We tend to do one or the other; We either put a lot of work into relationships but then we hold them so dear that the relationship can’t bear the weight of our own expectations, or we do the opposite of holding the relationship loosely but mistakenly believe this means we don’t put any effort into maintaining it.
But truly, I’ve found that healthy friendships require both effort and an openness to growth.
While it’s never fun to watch friends go, there is a natural ebb and flow to life that always, always brings people in when you need them most. So don’t hold onto people just for the sake of numbers, because although it’s not popular to admit, life is on a continuum of growth, and we all grow at different rates and in different directions, so it’s only natural to grow with some people for a time, and then grow apart. While the letting go stinks, it also makes room for the letting in.
It’s only recently that I’ve really embraced these ideas. I’ve understood for quite some time the value of working on relationships – on building them and maintaining them like the growing and living thing that they are. But it hasn’t been until lately that I realized that I can’t maintain that kind of effort and intention with everyone. It’s important to hold friendships with an open hand, to let them come and go, so that you can truly, intentionally invest in the ones that stay.
Virginia Wolf said, “I am rooted, but I flow.” I like to think that applies to friendship, as well as life. We have our roots. We have some constants. But we are also vibrant, living things. We grow. We change. We flow. I’m so incredibly grateful for the people flowing through my life right now. I can only hope that whether they are in my life for a year or forever, that their life has been better for knowing me, as mine has in knowing them.