The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Friend

A Friend Loves At All Times (Proverbs  17:17)

I don't know if it's old age or the fact that I'm a mom or the fact that I live in the northeast but I have turned into a horrible friend.  I always thought I was one of those people who would send cards at just the right moment, call to chit chat randomly throughout the week, remember everyone's birthday and anniversary (without the help of Facebook), memorize children's names and ages, and remember to send care packages for the holidays and just because.


I can't keep up.  Whether it's summer time, fall, winter or spring I always find myself wondering how in the world is it the END of  September (or fill in the month) already?!  I haven't seen or talked to half of the friends I wanted to, and I still have a birthday party to plan, curriculum to buy, memory books to make, doctor's appointments to schedule, christmas shopping to start....the list goes on and on.  

How does one be a good friend to those she loves AND be a good wife, mom, daughter, sister, etc?  

It frustrates me to no end that I can't take a twenty minute phone call, or read a book, or think clearly, or remember the years my kids were born in.  How did I become this person?!  I am MISS CONGENIALITY for crying out loud!  I love people! I love staying connected and keeping up.  How do I choose between friend and family or friend and spouse or friend and laundry?  

Over the summer I was at my bestie's mother's 65th surprise party and most of the time I was worried about my kids behaving and not running, more than spending time with my friend.  I was so preoccupied with keeping everyone quiet and together, and keeping Micah from flashing everyone his tummy (could he please keep his shirt down?) that I missed out on the joy of just being there.  I hate that!

This past week our mentor at MOPS spoke about how she had to give up friendships during the time when her kids were small.  She had "friends" get mad at her for not returning phone calls and she realized, listen if they can't understand that I am in over my head, and give me some grace, then maybe I am not the friend they need.

I think we as women can be very hard on ourselves and each other. If there is any advice I will pass on to my girls when they get older it will be that when you have a young family, and by that I mean kids who are still nursing, or in diapers, or toddling around your home, then you may have to for a season focus on your family and not see your friends as much as you used to.  But!  But there will be friends that it won't matter how many times you called during the month, or how often you sent a card, all that will matter is that you can pick up wherever you left off and it will still be wonderful.

I am thankful for those types of friendships.  The ones who give me lots of grace through all the ups and downs of motherhood.  That's another thing I will teach my girls.  Give your friends tons of grace.  We all make mistakes, we are all imperfect, we all need lots of forgiveness and loads of grace.  

No one intends on being the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, friend.  But sometimes, you just can't help it.

The beauty of a friend loving at all times is that even through your busy times, sad times, chaotic or don't even think about calling me right now times...your REAL friends (the ones who are in it for the long haul) love you no matter what, they "get" you and they know that you will come around again!  Sometimes loving a friend is giving them space, listening when they do call, helping when they are hurt or overwhelmed, and even them just knowing you are a safe place to fall is wonderful too.


When Mom Fails... #notfinefriday

No One is Perfect...No Not One

All I ever wanted was to be the kind of mom who had cookies and milk on the table after school, the mom who carpooled on time, the mom who cheered for her kids at their sport of choice, the mom who came to recitals and beamed.  

But, the moment Julia was born, almost 8 years ago, I realized that all my hopes of an easy motherhood journey were very, very naive.  I didn't realize how messy, chaotic, and difficult it would be.  I didn't realize that there would be moments I would raise my voice at my kids and say the our home you do NOT say SHUT UP.  I never realized that I would actually get angry at a 2 year old.  I didn't know that there would be times I would want to hide in the bathroom and not even want to come out.

Nobody tells you how tired you will be during the day, how worried you will get when they get hurt, or how frustrating it is to tell your 2 year old for the 25th time to sit down and put their seat belt ON!  No one prepares you for the late nights, the ear infections, the fevers, the time outs, the utter exhaustion you feel.  There isn't a class that you can take that explains how you answer a 5 year olds questions, or how you prepare your child for the first day of school, or how to do it all right all the time.

Most days you just feel lucky to have everyone in their room at night, teeth brushed or not.  Some days you feel peaceful and happy, and other days you wish you could re-do start to finish.  Sometimes you pat yourself on the back for the good meal you made, the field trip you planned that went well and you may even get to enjoy a compliment from a stranger about the behavior of your kids.  Other days you'll just look yourself in the mirror at night and wonder, why, why did God give me these kids?  How in the world am I supposed to raise up honorable citizens when they don't even follow simple directions!?

This week I took my kids to a play date at Liberty Science Center.  My friend brought her 3 kids and I brought all of my crew.  Two moms and 7 kids... not an easy task.  We weren't able to talk much since we were watching everyone and making sure no one got lost, and praying they would all have fun with each other.  As we watched all of the big kids lined up to see the snakes, turtles, and spiders presentation table we both had a moment of awe.  We held the younger ones in our arms and kind of sighed at the beauty of the moment.  Julia kept looking over to check on me.  My friend said, "She LOVES you."  I didn't really know what she meant, so I gave her this quizzical look.  She said it again, "Julia LOVES you. She keeps looking back at you because she wants to make sure what she is doing is right."

I thought about that comment the whole ride home.  Nicole and I are new friends.  She just moved to NJ and she just started attending our church.  And yet she made this observation that a couple of my other friends have made and I don't think I ever stopped to really pay attention to.

I don't always get this motherhood thing right.  I literally fail everyday.  Whether it be losing my patience, or a bad attitude or a hurtful comment, I just don't get it right... and it pains me and it's so frustrating.  Because deep down all I want to do is a really good job at it.  I didn't become a stay at home mom to stink at it.  I did it intentionally.  I became a stay at home mom because both John and I truly have felt that God called me to stay home for awhile.  

  Growing up in my home where both parents worked in the city meant very long hours away from home and very little time with family.  As a little girl I was in before care, school and then after care or a babysitter.  We never had meals together...never, maybe on the holidays but even then both my parents rarely sat down.  These were all things that I said to myself growing up, "I want to do that differently."  I fail everyday as a mom.  I make mistakes.  But my children STILL love me.  They still LOVE me.  Despite all my failures, all my mistakes they look at me with tender and open eyes wanting my approval and always giving me a second chance.

Yea, I don't deserve that. But because of that love it does help me to want to be better the next day.  The mistakes I make today, hopefully I won't make tomorrow.  I want to become a positive role model for them.  After all, they mimic everything I say and do.  They mimic the good and they certainly mimic the bad.

When Nicole made that simple observation this week, it made me so thankful for my kids unconditional love.  And it definitely made me think of Jesus.  He loves me like that too.  I don't deserve it.  I mess up.  I make a ton of mistakes.  But He STILL LOVES me.  And it just makes me thankful, and grateful, and it makes me want to love people like that.

How often do we look at people with approval in our eyes and an openness to love?  Do we even look people in the eyes?  And do we really see people?  My daughter Julia has been teaching me little lessons like this since birth.  Another beautiful thing about motherhood is that you think you are going to teach them everything, and really it is such a give and take relationship.  They are always teaching us along the way too.

This has been a very difficult week for us.  We came back from vacation and visited the Emergency Room twice.  Once on Saturday with Micah our 2 year old, and again yesterday with Mark our 6 year old.  Both boys are okay now, but being a parent is TOUGH.  It's so much work.  It's so much patience.  It's so hard.  I keep thinking back to that sweet reminder from my friend.  She made me feel like maybe, just maybe I was doing okay as a mom.  Her words inspired me to be a good mom because I have 4 kids who need me to be!  And those 4 kids deserve a good mom even when circumstances around us are not always easy.


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