You may have noticed an absence of posts on my blog recently, I started this one a while ago but have drafted and re-drafted it a lot as I have continued to reflect on friendship. Each time I think I have been more and more honest so here goes on my final draft… apologies if it’s still a little waffly!
I imagine you’ll have heard Lukas Graham’s song, 7 years. I have listened to it a lot (my brother always used to complain as kids that if I liked a song I’d overplay it – I definitely still do that!)
Anyway, I could probably reflect on the whole song as it’s made me think a lot about where we expect our lives to be at different ages, however, I’ll start with the first two lines…
“Once I was seven years old my momma told me
Go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely”
Already, I talk about who my baby’s friends are. Friendship is different as a baby. JJ and his ‘best buddy’ spent many months just playing next each other without actually looking at each other. They’ve been friends from a distance. Now that he’s 8 months he’s just starting to notice other babies but his ‘friendships’ are still very much dictated by which baby I put him down next to!
As his Mum, I expect (and hope) that JJ will make friends as he grows up. As parents I think we just assume that our kids will make friends, but even as an adult I find it hard. I wonder, how well do we equip our kids to build friendships? Are we modelling the behaviours we expect from them? Do I always speak well of my friends? Do I talk to and befriend the people others aren’t being friendly towards? Am I brave and do I just go talk to people?
Having just moved to a brand new town I’m having to make new friends. And although at first this felt quite exciting I have to admit that now I’m finding the whole prospect quite daunting. It’s not the idea of meeting and getting to know new people (I genuinely love that) but instead it’s finding those deeper friendships, the new friends I can text about random things I find funny or talk to about anything or call ‘just because’. The ‘best friends’.
JJ doesn’t cope well with being indoors for long so as a Mum I spend a lot of time wandering around with him. I love spending time with him but I now understand how lonely parenthood can be. Sometimes at the end of the day I realise I’ve only spoken outloud to him, which is basically like talking to myself, apart from the occasionally ‘ba ba ba’ back! In terms of meeting new people, having a baby definitely helps as inevitably I go to places where there are lots of other Mums (and a few Dads!) but I have to admit that when I go to a rhyme time, I look around the room thinking about who I can chat to, and if I don’t manage to make eye contact with anyone then I just get back to playing with JJ. Does everyone else just want to be on their own or are they struggling to make friends too?
I know many people who still have friends from when they were really little, who they’ve been friends with since they were at school together. I feel like it’s taken me pretty much my whole life so far to figure out how to make those sort of friendships. At school I tended to be friends with everyone but never anyone’s best friend.
What didn’t I know about making friends when I was younger? As a kid I often got bullied and it’s taken me a while as I’ve grown up to learn to be resilient, to not care what other people think and I’d say I’m pretty confident as an adult (most of the time!). However, I have found that making best friends has been both deeply joy-bringing and heart breaking. I spent the last few years building deep friendships in London and then in quick succession most of my close friends left the city. I was devastated. And it’s now that I think about having to make new friends that I feel a fear of losing them again.
I hope that as his Mum I can teach JJ to let his guard down and share his heart and to build deep friendships right away, not to wait until he’s an adult. I just wonder how do we actually teach our kids not to fear rejection, how to be resilient and how to love their friends deeply? It’s such a challenge and I know it means that I need to be modelling it myself. So, in spite of the fear of making best friends who move away again I am going to let my guard down and share my heart with the new people I meet in the hope that JJ learns to do the same (and that I get some new buddies of course!)