“Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
You may remember that song from your childhood. I know I do. I often think back over my life and people who have crossed my path in various avenues and situations in my life. Being the extreme extrovert that I am, I have always had people around me.
During my college days I developed some very strong bonds with some very special people.
I lived with these people. We laughed together, we cried together, we grew up together, we became adults together. They were the kind of friendships that were life-giving and gave me self-worth.
These friendships were much easier to maintain when we were all going through the same life challenges. Our biggest priorities at the time were to do well in school and then find jobs or get into graduate programs. It was easy to relate with each other because we were in the same environment and all experiencing life as single adults.
As time went on and our careers came, life got busy.
The number of people I talked to became fewer and fewer. It was no ill will; life just happened. Most of those super close friendships were still intact, and even though we didn’t talk every day, I could pick up the phone and it would be as if no time had been lost. I gained new friendships with co-workers and others I met post-college. Every one of these friends have taught me important life lessons and helped me find self worth in that time in my life.
Then marriage and kids came.
I longed for friends to share the journey of motherhood together.
I was blessed to find local moms to share the journey with and also to share motherhood with girlfriends who have been part of my journey since college. There is something about motherhood that changes us. We learn to be less selfish and more selfless as we care for our families. As I became a mom, I constantly had my kids on my mind. I talk about them to friends and anyone who will listen. I longed for friends who I could talk to about my kids. It helped me to feel less crazy to know other parents whose kids were going through the same things. I am sure for my friends who were not parents it was hard to relate to me.
We all need friends. We need people who “get us.” We need friends who will help bring out the best in us and love us despite our downfalls. As I look back over my life I think about the people who have crossed my path. I think about the friends who have been there through the most challenging and formative parts of my life. I look at my life today. How many of those people are still there? The sad truth is that number has declined.
How do I feel about this? To be quite honest, it makes me sad. In typical “me” fashion, I overanalyze what happened or what went wrong. What did I say or not say? What could I have done differently? The truth is probably nothing. Life happens. We all get busy with our lives, with so many things vying for our attention.
We get absorbed in our own selves that we don’t always make time to maintain those friendships.
Another factor is proximity. It is much easier to maintain friendships with people who live close to us. I think another factor is place in life. I know after becoming a mom, motherhood was the focus of my mind all the time.
With this being said, what do I do or how should I feel? I mourn the friendships that have ended or have been put on standby. It is okay to feel that way. It is okay to feel sad when those people who were once a major part of our lives are no longer. What do I do about it? For me personally, I keep reaching out. I still send the occasional text message or email. I still call and leave messages. My hope in doing this is that someday we will connect and talk, and it will be as if no time had passed. This has also prompted me to be extra diligent in trying to connect with those who I am in contact with.
I will always be grateful for the memories and experiences shared.
Every friend who has crossed my path has helped shape me into who I am today, teaching me valuable lessons and bringing me joy. I am grateful for their presence in my life, even if only for a season. And if our paths cross again, I will be full of joy to reconnect.
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
– Winnie the Pooh