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Friends and joy…

Four little girls are snug as bugs in a rug under blankets and surrounded by pillows on my living room floor.  They are eating me out of house and home, and what they don’t eat will go in the cupboard for Daddy’s late night snacks.  They are watching Mr. Popper’s Penguins.  Every once in a while, I hear a belly laugh.  A comment.  A request for more popcorn.   The living room is littered with remnants of these snacks, along with various stuffed animals, sleeping bags and other overnight accoutrements.  It takes me back to another time and another place.  A time when friendship seemed so…uncomplicated.

How innocent are young female friendships, how free of baggage.

When do our friendships become more complicated and harder to keep?  Is it when we hit our preteen years and begin to discover our identities and how we relate to others?  Is it in high school when we are trying to figure out who we will be in life and how we will accomplish that goal?  Is it in our young adult years when we are getting established and starting to become that sought after persona?  Is it beyond that point of no return when life becomes more complex due to marriage, children and the general busyness of each day, week, month and year; and as a result, our female relationships become complicated as well?

No matter.  It is hard making, being and remaining friends.  It takes work, perseverance and tolerance.   It takes time. Patience.  Understanding.  And so much more.  How can it be accomplished when so much is required?  We have so little time and resources with which to expend, we who are mothers, wives, daughters, sisters.  These latter relationships alone demand more than time allows .

While at a yard sale this evening, I watched the camaraderie among friends.  Other women enjoying one another’s company while shopping and selling.  It is one of the ways we accomplish friendship in these busy days overrun by demands of family, work and parenting.  We multi-task.  Because we need our friends.  And we must find creative ways in which to keep them.

I stopped by my own dear friend’s house after work today and we had the better part of an hour in which to connect.  She and I can get right to the heart of things in zero to sixty.  I love friendships like that. They bring me joy.  We all need friends that meet us where we are, who we are and how we are.  Accepting that we might not always have a lot to bring to the table, we take and enjoy what is there in that moment.  We delight in that pure, unadulterated joy of another woman’s understanding heart.  We don’t have to explain, for she knows.  She is woman after all!

We should all be so blessed.

We make decisions about how best to spend those precious few minutes of every day when we have a spare second.  Precious time.  Do we try to finish up a project?  Read a book?  Run an errand?  Call a friend?  It is the measure of what we prioritize by which we make our choices.  Our relationships are precious.  We give to our spouse, our children, our extended family.  We give to our friendships in different ways…we shop together, walk together, chat on the phone while multitasking at home.  We share in each other’s accomplishments and disappointments while our wee children play at our feet or our older children are kicking a ball on the soccer field.  We stimulate and encourage each other to be better people, to be more tomorrow than we are today; all the while, we accept one another for being exactly who we are in this given space and time.

A friend came to me this week.  She prefaced her dilemma to me with this phrase: “I need a friend right now, can we talk?”  So don’t we all.  We need these kinds of friends in our lives.  We need to carve out time from family and the demands of our busy lives to care about those friends with which we have been blessed to know, who are living a parallel existence to our own.  Other women like us.  With similar concerns, demands, and priorities.

So much of what I learn,  I learn from my children.  I see in them all that is pure and innocent and for the most part, very good.  My eyes are wide open.  They are my reason for living well.  Those bad habits they learn are often impressed on them by the adults they observe.  We, as adults,  are their example and they watch us carefully.  They see what we value and cherish, and they in turn work out their own ideas of what is important and good.

My little girls love their friends, love spending time playing, dreaming and chatting with friends; they are still in those precious years when friendship is simple and yet so profound.   When friendship is what it was meant to be: a joy.  Joy in being and knowing.  Joy in sharing.  The joy of friendship.

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