This post by Lyvvie had me thinking all day Tuesday about the nature of friendship. I planned to write about it on Wednesday, something profound yet depressing, because--lately--I haven't felt like a very good friend. WIth 3 children and a home in the country, I'm rarely available and I don't make much of an effort to keep in touch with the great friends I do have. I don't want to be the kind of friend who calls just to complain, or interrupts with my good news when they're busy with their own stuff, so I just wait for them to call me. Anyway, Wednesday ended up illustrating my point because it got away from me and I was so busy I didn't even get to the computer.
Then Wednesday night I received a call from an old friend whose children are having some troubles at school and who just needed to unload and unwind. We talked, and talked, and talked until I'd worn out the batteries in one phone and hers finally died too. Hung up just after 3 AM.
Needless to say, Thursday? I was pretty much useless. It was a quiet day for us all (and I love that my beautiful kids were mostly great all day. I was even able to nap on the couch in the morning while they played peacefully). No bloggy. But still thinking about that post from Lyvvie.
I had a conversation with my MIL back in my Uni days (b4 either of us knew she was to become my MIL and I just thought of her as a friend). She was astounded at the number of friendships I maintained. I was astounded at her dearth of close friends. She said to me that friendships were like beautiful flowers in a garden or hothouse that needed constant tending. You need to weed and water and fertilize and pamper. She said she just didn't have the resources for a large garden. I argued that friendships were hardier than that and that it took very little work to grow great friends. I thought maybe friends were more like wildflowers, blooming unexpectedly at special moments, than any pampered hothouse flower that needed constant care. She said maybe it was just that I was still single and didn't have any children and that I'd change my tune and get rid of the garden.
So. I got married and moved far away, and it was more difficult to maintain all those friendships, but the ones that mattered were easy to tend. Then I started having children and decided the MIL was right. It seemed that I had these puppies loose in my garden. Little rambunctious bundles that took all of my time and energy, who dug up the garden and chewed on the flowers and left me no time for more than a cursory glance at those once cherished blooms. Months would go by with me barely able to even look at the garden. I began to believe that I'd need to wait until those puppies grew into well-mannered dogs who would leave my garden alone before I could start over again. I worried that all my flowers would die of neglect and malnourishment.
And then I got a call from a friend. And you know what? The garden is doing just fine. I've lost a few plants here and there, but realized that they were mostly ornamental anyway. The ones I love ARE hardy. Time, distance, children, none of it matters. Your friends are there when you need them, and being a good friend doesn't require you to be the gardener, just one more flower in the garden.
I think it's ok to go months or sometimes years without talking, and the miracle of friendship is that you can pick up where you left off when you see each other again. Do I wish I was a better friend? The one that sends home-made cards, calls just to say hi, performs random acts of kindness in a dependable way? Yes. I used to be one of those friends, and when I get those puppies out of the garden I hope to be so again. Do I wish for a geographically and spiritually close friend, one who I can talk to daily, share childcare with, laugh in the kitchen with? Oh, you betcha, but I'm not sure I have the energy for it right now.
Seasons change, and true friendships are forever. To my many friends out there, I cherish you and think of you often. I love it when you call and understand when you don't. I hope you feel the same. I love watching you all bloom, each in your own season and circumstances. And to my MIL, I understand now. I still don't completely agree, but I completely understand.
P.S. Thank goodness for Facebook!