Every Friday I take the small people to our homeschool co-op that happens to be at our church. (Yes, I said ‘homeschool.’ I’ll explain.) The kids love it and enjoy preschool classes that are really quite well tailored to where they are developmentally and it allows me a chance to sit and connect with other homeschooling mommas.
Matt and I made the purposeful decision several years ago to homeschool. We feel, for our family, that it is the best option considering where our home is and what we hope to instill in our children before they are further outside of our influence. I will be perfectly frank: the thought of homeschooling terrifies me. My college degree is in history, not education, and there are many days when I look around at my home, listen to the continual needs (cries) of my 4 children 4 and under and think, “How on earth am I going to do this for real?” Thankfully, Matt listens to me and we talk at length of my doubt that I am capable of teaching them, and I have some amazing girlfriends who also wisely counsel me and, let’s be honest, vent and sometimes even cry.
Last week I was feeling particularly isolated and alone in my world and stage of mothering. I am one of a couple of friends who have all their children with them all day long, each and every day. I am not envious of them or wish something else for myself, but it dawned on me just how different my days are from theirs. While I am happy and joyful for my friends who have different things in life, I was feeling a bit blue and down about my little world. And I was at a loss.
Then, my friend Laura came to mind. She also has four littles (and a 5th baby on the way!) and homeschools and I knew she would understand my feelings and thoughts. We were able to connect today during co-op and it was such a refreshing time to my spirit and heart. I was able to pour out everything I’d been thinking to her and hear back, “I understand. I’ve been there.” After our conversation, another sweet and precious friend, Becky, texted me and asked me how she could be praying for me. So, there was another outlet for me to confide in and receive encouragement and validation as a mother and a friend.
This got me to thinking about friendships and relationships in general. At 34, I am finally at a place where I can say that I am okay with not being “best friends” with everyone in my circle. That what is more important to me at this stage in life is authenticity, transparency and vulnerability in my friendships. To really share life with those whom I call friend. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for friends with whom you share more “surface”-type of conversations; but, I think in order to have meaningful friendships, we have to be intentional and that takes time. And more time than you, if you’re anything like me, can give to more than a handful of people. I hope that you have some friends in your life who really get you, who understand your heart and what is important to you and spend their time pouring into you as you pour into them. I have found that I can even have these kinds of friendships with those women who I don’t see because they’re in a different state (I miss you, Ohio friends!) or I haven’t even met in person (I’m talking about you, bloggy friends. You know who you are.).
I really believe that if we have people in our lives who we can be honest with about where we are, it takes the veil off of this culture of “I have it all together and everything is always golden.” Do you know what I mean? The women we see who we think have it all together and we compare ourselves to, but what we don’t know is that they’re comparing themselves to us or someone else. And it’s a cycle that keeps repeating because we’re so afraid to say, “I DON’T know what I’m doing and I DON’T have it all together.” It is always such a relief when I nervously bare my heart with a friend, wondering what she’s going to say, and then I hear, “Oh, my goodness, me, too! I thought I was the only one who did/thought/etc. that.” If we could be that open about how we struggle and share our perspectives in loving and intentional conversations, how encouraging would that be? I’m finding that a lot of my girlfriends are feeling the same way and so our conversations have been transforming from potty training tips (please, throw any my way!) to how we can encourage and build each other up right where we are. And can I tell you something? It’s been so incredibly freeing. Of course, there is still plenty of, “So, here’s the latest story of what my kidlet did.” and chit-chat over coffee, and absolutely, those kinds of conversations are important and life-giving in their own right, but if I really have something weighing on my heart, I don’t feel as though I can’t share it. I am listened to in love and friendship. It’s awesome.
Do you have friends you can be completely yourself with? Do you think I’m way off the mark with this? Does what I wrote make sense? Please, share your wisdom, experiences and thoughts. I would love to glean even further insight from you about friendships and authenticity right where you are.
To be a friend is a great thing, but to have a friend is even better. If you are reading this and I call you friend, thank you. Thank you for encouraging me, listening to my heart and pouring back into me. You are a blessing and a reason for thankfulness in my life. It is an honor to share life with you.
Blessings and love,