Friday, February 27, 2015

Building friendships

Investing time in growing and maintaining friendships, of the old and new variety, isn't easy when your life revolves around a family that is both deserving and demanding. However, as I've reflected on the friendships I've enjoyed since becoming a Mother, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude that certain paths crossed when they did; allowing new relationships to form and old ones to reconnect.

Please allow me a moment of indulgence as I re-play snippets of personal history. This would be Andrew's cue to tune out entirely.

As newlyweds, Andrew and I discovered that when attempting to befriend other couples, awkward feelings, similar to those that exist in the dating world, can surface.  It begins with desire.

"They look nice.
"Should we invite them over for a game night?" 
"Would they think that's weird?"

 And then a comparison.

"Does she make better chocolate chip cookies than me?"
"Their home decor is so much better than ours!"

And then a legitimate fear.

"Did I talk too much?"
"Do you think they smelled that?"

And finally, a hint of rejection.

"I saw them sitting by that other couple during Sunday School.
 And they were LAUGHING. Have we been replaced?"

An awkward, true story, that illustrates what I'm talking about can be found  here.

Making new friends on a couple to couple basis can be extra tricky when one of you is an introvert who doesn't watch sports (read: Andrew).  Matters are made worse when the other half tries to compensate for their silence by over sharing experiences from her life in the worst way possible. ("Hey guys! Let's talk about my first ever appointment with a gynecologist!" - Sadly, that happened once.) 

When Andrew and I landed in Germany, things changed.  I became them introvert due to the language barrier, this was rough for me by the way, which left Andrew responsible for each facet of our survival: the financial, the physical and the social.  This new formula proved successful as we met and bonded with the Auras family. In fact, they decided to love and accept us long before our plane landed in Munich. When it was time to say, "Goodbye," our hearts broke!

In the past, I've said much about my friendship with Michelle Blaser and our Boiling Springs ward family. She rescued me from a most intense homesickness and without realizing it, pulled me from a thick depression that I didn't know I was experiencing until I emerged from it months later. Her low key, easy going, can do, nature rubbed off on me little by little. I was a baby bird who had fallen from her nest and landed in South Carolina. I learned to fly, as a Mother, by watching her. Returning to Utah was something we had hoped and prayed for, but when it actually happened, I wasn't prepared for how real of a loss those friendships would be. You do your best to stay connected, but it falls short of filling the actual void. With time, those feelings become less tender and you wonder if that friendship and that type of connection to a ward family is simply a once in a lifetime sort of blessing. 

Moving back to Utah, I was so happy to be nearer to the friends I grew up with. They have been so fantastic to invite me to gatherings and are forgiving when that 45 minute distance and other circumstances (kids in school) prevent me from coming. Our trip to California last summer renewed relationships and reminded me how lucky I am to have a history with such talented, beautiful and intelligent women. 

Here in South Ogden, I told myself that because I was so fortunate to have our awesome families nearby that my need for friends wasn't what it had once been. My heart still hurt from those I missed in South Carolina and because of that, I think I was hesitant to fully extend myself; not to mention, my life was quite busy with three small children. I bet that excuse is one that too many Mothers fall back on when considering their social life. So that's where my focus stayed, entirely on the needs of my family. 

Thankfully, Heavenly Father knew better as he soon planted Melanie Parker and Kim Vause into my life. Melanie has been an inspiration to me as I was able to observe up close what real courage looks like as a Mother. And while I believe all Mothers are courageous, some circumstances force women to demonstrate their bravery on a more public scale; which I'm sure isn't an easy thing. Kim invited our family to do things with theirs, was a great friend to talk with and became that Mom I could call when I was in a bind. In November 2012, both Kim and Melanie moved away and I that familiar pang of loss returned.

That same month, I was called to serve in our relief society presidency and have since become close friends with the women I serve with. They are older than me and their current circumstances in life are much different than my own. To experience that friendship and bond grow has been a real treat and blessing. We've been through a lot together. I can't help but love and respect them. My involvement with relief society also brought about other friendships that I don't know if I would have found on my own. The lesson here: accept calls willingly and do thy visiting teaching!

Spring of 2012 rolls around and I receive an invite from my fashion savvy, quick witted, structure loving, Ryan Gosling admiring, beautiful friend Maren to join a "power of moms" group. What in the world is power of moms? She explained that each month we'd read an article that pertains to Motherhood and then meet to discuss it. I am ashamed to admit this, but what really sold me on the idea of joining was the fact that I was Maren's visiting teacher. My life had never been busier as I had spent the previous months immersing myself into a new calling and was a month away from delivering my fourth child. If I committed, which I thankfully did, I would likely see Maren on a monthly basis. For the record, I am no longer her visiting teacher. My motives for going each month are entirely pure. :) 

That was nearly two years ago. Since then, our group has grown and evolved as friends have moved away and new women have accepted invitations to join. My gratitude for this special circle of friends is through the roof. It has reminded me of the benefits and blessings that fill a woman's soul when she nurtures friendships and makes them a priority. Hopefully, as an added bonus, I've become a more deliberate Mother as we have talked our way through some thought provoking topics. Not every article is a home run. Sometimes we disagree with the author but the conversations that follow never lack. We laugh, we cry, overstay welcomes, while happily sacrificing precious hours of sleep to do so. I am thankful for Maren's ongoing enthusiasm as it propels us forward, month by month. This past weekend our long awaited, highly anticipated, retreat finally happened. That post, is up next. 

But before that happens, I feel the need to acknowledge (because I don't want to exclude anyone from this love fest!) that I had a great college experience, filled with amazing people. To this day, I love my roommates dearly. Also, I believe that really awesome friendships can be born through social media (Hi Rachel, Jessie, Mel, Kim, Lacey and apologize to whoever else I am forgetting). Comments left on my blog and instagram mean so much. Thank you, thank you.

 And to Andrew, if you made it through this entire post, come and find me. Tell me the secret word: "daisy" and I will give you a prize. ;)



rachel garber said...

Hi! The way you love and miss your group of friends in South Carolina is the way I feel about my friends in Arizona. Totally. I'm glad you have a new set of friends in Utah though.

Also, because Mel sent you those dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's, I had to pick some up in Boise and oh man. To die for, right!?

Vause Family said...

Well, shucks! That was a little too generous of you to mention me on your blog. I'm extremely sad that we are not close neighbors anymore, but feel the exact same way about you and your family. Very blessed to have y'all in my life and look forward to more summer gatherings at the Perrys in the future!

Vause Family said...

P.S. I'm so glad you are enjoying the loveliness of Maren, Sam, Alyssa and others that exist in good old South Ogden!