Last year I headed off for a weekend away with my best girlfriends from High School. As I went to jump in the cab taking me to the airport, I said to my daughter, who was a little upset about my leaving and hanging off my arms, “Darling, I really have to go.” to which she replied “You don’t have to go, you want to go.”
Oh honey, can I get you a bigger knife to stab into my heart?! OUCH!
Thankfully my wise husband was there and as we walked to the cab said, “It’s good that she knows you want to go. It’s good that she see’s you have friends, you have a life.” (Yes, he’s a good man!)
With my oldest, dearest girlfriends. I did not get the memo that it was “sunnies ON” for the photo. I do it every time!
I am writing this on Christmas Eve, a time when most of us have been spending a HUGE amount of time working out how to make everyone else around us happy. Thinking, with love and excitement (and a big side of exhaustion), about how we can make the coming week a really beautiful, fun, memory-creating experience for our family. Hello PRESSURE.
And the question I’d like to gently encourage you to ask as we see the new year in, the question that I will be asking myself over January, is how can I feed myself so that I can feed the people I love?
It’s not the only question I’ll be reflecting on but it’s a big part of it because we simply cannot love the people around us well if we completely neglect our own souls.
And of course, the thing I have experienced about feeding my soul is that I feel guilty about doing something purely for me. (I think it’s called Martyr Syndrome?!?! Maybe you’re familiar with it?!?) Because of course, doing something for yourself means someone else is dealing with all the things you and I normally do, and given that as a parent you basically have to ask permission to go to the toilet asking someone to have the kids to do something purely ‘fun’…well, it takes practice to not drown in guilt.
The biggest risk in being a martyr is that you will become resentful, and resentment is an enemy to love. So, while I am not talking about ignoring your family, your responsibilities and checking out of your life, I AM talking about creating space within your daily rhythms that refresh your soul and give you the encouragement and energy you need to connect meaningfully with your family, friends and work. Will you join me in finding ways to create this space in your life in 2017?
Will you join me in finding ways to create this space in your life in 2017?
If so, then my biggest encouragement to you is to cherish and invest in your friendships. I have read enough articles from women lamenting a lack of adult female friends, or a ‘girl tribe’ to know that this is a serious issue for women.
I think you can get to a point in your adult life where you look around and wonder “Where did everyone go?” I know this is something I felt when I emerged from the baby haze for the third time but I also know it’s not just parenthood that leads you down that path. And if happens, when it happens, it’s in that moment you need to stop and ask yourself “where did I go?” Because it’s not too late to find your way back.
It’s so easy to find yourselves without those girlfriend moments. For me, life with small people was so all encompassing and this strange combination of never being alone while feeling completely alone. It’s hard to organise your diary, liaise with your partner, book a babysitter etc…. and get yourself out the door. But you need to do it.
Since that first girls weekend last year, I’ve done a couple more and I make regular time to hang out with, call and visit my girlfriends. It’s made my life so much richer, and along the way I’ve found myself making more friends; a happy by product of making friendship a priority in my life.
We can’t do life alone; we need ‘the village’ for the sake of our families and our relationships. Most of us don’t get this by way of a physical village but there’s no reason we can’t create our own. I can guarantee you that if you’re looking for a village right now, there a people who want to be part of it. You just have to take a step toward them.
So, will you join me in cherishing and prioritising friendship in 2017? What will it mean for you to do that?