I’ll admit it, I love a new year. I love to set goals and plan how to achieve them. This year, my primary focus is to lean in to my relationships and make those a greater priority. As a new-ish mom, I often find myself focusing on merely surviving each day rather than nourishing those areas of my life that bring me profound joy – namely, my female friendships.
To determine how I’m going to better focus on my friendships, I am drawing inspiration from the greatest friend I know – the one, the only, my mom.
Like me, my mom had close friends both locally and spread throughout the country. Distance did not determine the closeness of any given relationship and she was able to maintain these friendships for the duration of her life. Below are some things I observed from her that I hope to be able to implement myself:
- Authenticity and vulnerability: my mom and her friends weathered many challenging seasons together as they were open and honest about their highs and lows. They included each other in both the mundane details and the life-changing moments of their lives.
- Loyalty: I can’t even imagine my mom complaining about one of her friends. Any slight criticism was couched in so much compassion and diplomacy that it clearly came from a place of love and genuine concern rather than judgement.
- Respect and embrace the seasons of friendship: I remember my mom getting off of the phone following a tense conversation with a loved one and saying to me, “We will always love each other, and we have gone through a time in which we were very close, but I think we’re going to go through a time in which we’re not as close.” We all have friends who are in different seasons of their own lives, possibly making decisions with which we don’t agree or not showing up for us in the way we’d like (or vice versa). That’s okay. Relationship-building is a long game, and it’s okay to create some space while leaving the door open for that friendship to renew and become closer again.
- Aim high: Gossip, whether positive or negative, is like the lowest-hanging conversational fruit. It requires minimal effort and does not draw you closer to anyone involved. It’s easy to resort to this topic and I do, all the time. That said, I overheard bits and pieces of hundreds of conversations my mom had with her friends. Not once to I recall them talking at any length about any other friend. One of my biggest goals this year is to take my conversations deeper and leave other people’s problems and triumphs out of them.
- Your greatest relationships are your family: If you find yourself running out of time for friendships, take heart in the fact that the relationships you are building with your children and spouse are most precious of all. You may be the friend who is in a season in which she can’t be as fully present as she’d like to be, and that’s okay. You’ll get back there, and your true friends will be waiting for you.
I’d love to hear how you build and nourish friendships in the midst of wrangling children, making time for your significant other, work obligations and, lest we forget, taking care of yourself.