Friday, February 8, 2013

On Being A Good Friend

I have come to a realization. I am not a very good friend. Well, I guess I mean to say that I'm not good at making friends.

I used to think that I was really good at making friends! And I was, er, good at having lots of friends. I think. I guess it turns out I was just a big flirt and good at making lots of guy friends :)

Since being married, I haven't been able to make friends the way I used to. It's just so different. You have your family who wants to see you more because you are not living with them anymore. You have a spouse that is your built-in date and companion to everything. So you lose the need to call a friend unless your spouse is busy. Also, I am paranoid about the appearance of anything inappropriate with someone of the opposite sex. Probably because I was such a flirt in the past! I don't ever want to have anyone think there is anything inappropriate going on. Once you throw kids into the mix, forget about it! Unless you have a friend with a child that is around the same age, or you have a nanny, you probably won't be spending much time with them.

I am also pretty selfish. I think of my dirty house and don't invite people over. Or I don't think to invite someone to something because I am doing it with my family. I want to stay in my yoga pants and be lazy instead of pulling on a pair of jeans and looking presentable. But then I think, "Wouldn't it be awesome to have a friend who could stop by and I don't care about any of that?"
Marina & I walking West Cliff
I get so frustrated sometimes because I miss having a good friend to be around. I started a moms group for our ward, but with our kids it feels like we can't talk more than 30 seconds before having to run and save a child from falling in the pond. And it's always too short when I get together with a girlfriend and we have our kids with us. We take 2 bites of our lunch and have to tend to our kids. I always get home and realize we started a ton of stories but never finished them! Or I've come home from hanging out with a friend and realized that I did most (if not all of) the talking. Sorry ladies : /
My closest girlfriends that I talk to on a regular basis are my mom, Nana, my sister, and Tiana. Tiana and I have been best friends since we were 3 years old. We met in Sunbeams at church and bonded over shoes. We schemed up a plan to get our moms to buy us "big girl shoes" by telling each of our moms that the other girl had shoes with no straps on them, when in fact neither of us did! I've been a terrible friend to her at times. Mostly when I was in high school and boys were #1 priority. But, she stuck by my side and we still call each other (well, she calls me - see...bad friend) and have such a deep friendship because of everything we've been through and know about each other. She likes to tell my mom stories about us in the's hilarious :) Every time I go home to visit, we lament the fact that we live so far away from each other.
Tiana & I in High School (pic from Natalie, thanks!)
I admire people like the aforementioned (along with Brittni) because they are such good question askers! They think of such thoughtful things to ask me and others. They really make people feel important. I think that I'm too busy trying to make everyone laugh or too concerned with myself that I need to shift and think about who I'm with more.

I was talking to my mom about being sad that I couldn't participate in a book club. She said, "It's just not the right time for you now. You will have plenty of years to be in book clubs." She's right. Wise momma :) I think the same thing applies here. Life with young children comes with so many joys, but some of the changes and sacrifices that we make as mothers leave us feeling guilty.
On a date with our hubbies
I think that this season of my life is just all-consuming. Gone are the days of leisurely lunch dates where I got to hear all of the details of my friends lives. Or double dates that could go late into the night because there wasn't a babysitter that needed to be paid and driven home waiting at home with your children. Being a mother can be very isolating. It's good, and I appreciate this time of young children. I would not trade being these girls' mommy for anything! I had a moment the other day, where the girls and I were holding hands and walking outside in the warm sunshine. My neighbor and I started talking and she said, "Do you just love watching them grow?!" I said, "Yes! It's amazing!" And I really was thinking how awesome my life is. I get to spend my days with two little people who trust me entirely and fill my heart with the biggest love I've ever felt!

Tonya shared this quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley today and it made my heart ache and my eyes fill with tears. He said, "You have nothing in this world more precious than your children. When you grow old, when your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your children have turned out...Do not trade your birthright as a mother for some bauble of passing value...The baby you hold in your arms will grow quickly as the sunrise and the sunset of the rushing days."

I guess the point of all of this was for me to get this out in the open. I needed to see the things that I do in order to correct them. I realize that I put up mental barriers that prevent me from being a better friend. Like thinking that someone works & wouldn't have time, or that someone's kids are older than mine so they wouldn't want to hang out. Even if that's the case, an invitation is always appreciated, right? Here's to being a better friend. I've been working on it, but there's always room for improvement! I hope I'm not the only one who has felt this way. Please let me know if you've found a way to remedy the bad friend syndrome!


Stacy Wilson said...

Kara this is me EXACTLY!!! You couldn't have said it better. I have actually been thinking about it a lot lately. Since I've had children (6 years ago) I have only had one good friend. One that, when she came over and the house was a disaster, I wouldn't be embarrassed. One that I could say anything to and not feel like being judged. This friend lives in Boise and me, being the bad friend that I am, have only talked to her maybe 3 times in the year and a half we have lived here. Lately I have really been craving another (one or multiple) true friend. I started to think of how we became such good friends and I feel the biggest factor was that we lived SO close. She lived across the street and it made it easy to stop by for 1/2 an hour until the kids got fussy or for four hours if the kids were good. The flexibility of being with friends but having "home" so close allowed us the time to build that bond. I feel that this is why I haven't been able to make good friends here. Everyone is so spread out - I live "way up in the mountains" and feel like no one ever wants to come all the way up here just to hang out in our small apartment. Then on the other hand some days I don't have the energy to get all the kids ready to go into Santa Cruz because with Austin in school, once I go out I usually stay out the whole day and that can be daunting with 3 kids. It also doesn't help that there are no play places for small children here. It would be so nice if there was somewhere, indoors, that I could take the kids and let them run and play while the mommy's could talk.

Anyway, sorry for the rammbling comment, I just want to say that I too enjoy being a mom and my mom has also said the same thing as yours "there is a time and a season for everything, right now is to be a mom. You will have time for (sewing, friends, workingout etc) later.) And while I understand and try to embrace it some days I know would just be that much easier with a friend. It's funny to ready your post because I too feel like I don't make friends easily and when I get together I too do a lot of talking. Isn't Brittni amazing? She always asks so many questions and I could talk and talk, I have to always remind myself to STOP and try asking her a question! Anyway, I am so glad you posted this, it's nice to know I'm not the only one!

Kara Miller said...

Stacy, I am so glad you feel the same way! I always want to hang out with you more but then bad friend syndrome sets in :) It would be so cool if we lived across the street from each other! Ada is always asking about Kate.

SARAH said...

I have the same problem you have, I have no friends in Ohio....I would say my biggest complaint is no one parents the same way I do, and that makes it hard....I can not stand hanging around ladies who yell at their kids all the time, or sit them in front of the play video games for hours.......errr....

Leah Mastilock said...

thank you for writing this! This also me! I've always had just a few close friends, but since kids, also 6 years, I rarely talk to even my best friend sice kindergarten. We have become very different in our oarenting styles and though I love raising my kids more than anything, I sometimes feel like I gave no frinds at all. I know it's my own fault for not keeping in touch, but I try to remember there will be plenty of time for talking and lunch dates when the kids are older and less needy. Which will be all too soon. Love the quote!

Thira said...

Well written Kara, us females are on emotional roller coasters! ;)

Lindsey said...

This made me cry. You have NO idea how accurate this is for me too.

Shannon said...

This was such a wonderful post! I feel like we are just in that weird in-between phase in life where it's hard to just get together with friends because our kids need so much of our attention! Mitch and I were just talking about how bad we feel that we are always turning down requests to do things (either me with other moms or us as a couple) because during the day it's too tough being pregnant and having two kids, or in the evenings we just want some time for the two of us because we're so tired after the day! My closest friends here are the ones where we can just let our kids play together and relax and chat. However those opportunities are so much fewer than they used to be when I only had 1 baby!

Thank you for writing your thoughts and I ASSURE you you're not alone! It's so weird for me to not be hanging out with friends as much as I used to, especially for people like us who are very social. This is the season for our kids and we can't feel bad about that! You are the best momma and I wish we lived closer because you are the best. xoxo

Kara Miller said...

Sarah & Leah, I definitely hear you on different parenting styles! We've had the talks after spending time with others about how, "We don't do that in our family." ;) Thira & Lindsey: I know!! So glad we aren't alone in this! Shannon, I love you. Thank you for your sweet comment :) We are like best friends that have never spent more than a few hours with each other in real life! Matt & I feel the same way. When the kids go down, we finally get to talk and just BE. I feel bad about not having people over for dinner more often, but you're right. This is the season for kids & I shouldn't feel bad about that!

Meg said...

Thanks for this post Kara! Spot on. I read it a while back but was thinking about it again the other day, and even wrote about it.

I just keep telling myself, "To everything there is a season..." =)

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