Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Let's Be Friends


The modern age has some pretty nice perks: Running water, medical advances that allow me not to have to worry my kids will die when they have fevers. 

 Sometimes I fantasize, though, about living in a little village sharing a cooking courtyard with other women, doing life together. Cars are great, but I want to walk somewhere with you. Texting is convenient, but I want to see your eyes when you talk. Facebook can be a fun place to share our funny stories, but how I long to make those stories together. 

I am afraid that our world of conveniences has made relationships inconvenient. I fear that acquisition keeps us from acquiring relationships of value. 

 I am thinking about this because I don’t know the names of the neighbors to the left, or any more than the name of my neighbor to the right. It's on my mind because it is such a huge struggle to put together play dates around everyone’s nap times, when really it would be so awesome to spend a day with friends, and make pallets on the floor for the slumbering tots if need be. And so many friends have said they want me to teach them to make something or other, and that will take serious time. Not 15 highly interrupted minutes: It will take days, taking breaks to cook and laugh and change diapers. Sounds like heaven.

 Another young mom was sharing in Bible study this week about how much she feels like an outsider. Which of us doesn’t? And I wanted to invite her: “Come be a woman together with me. We can fold one another's laundry, fix one another's kid’s boo-boos, and no matter who you are, I swear we will never run out of things to talk about.” 

Yeah, obviously I have no poker face. Subtlety is not my strongest trait. I sometimes wish adults could make friends the way our kids do: By introducing ourselves and saying “I like you. Wanna be friends?” But had I offered, would she accept? Would she take the leap? Would it be too blunt? Too difficult? I ask because I have tried being that straightforward, and discovered that other people find it terrifying. 

I believe necessity can make best friends of any two women, but it seems like our digital stand-ins and superficial busyness medicate the ache to be known just enough that we don’t take the plunge. I believe in the power of community, but how do we learn to make it when we haven't experienced it satisfactorily yet?

 Do you want to be a friend like that? Have you experienced it? What do you think stands in the way? How can we overcome our cultural and personal challenges in favor of relationships? Do you think we need it, or is being “bosom friends” outdated and too much to ask? Are digital means a legitimate replacement for living elbow to elbow?


Asher's Mom said...

I have had this exact conversation with several of my friends, and my husband, on numerous occasions. I would so love to live on a commune! LOL... That kind of living gets labeled as "extreme"...but I think all of human history would label how we live our lives as extreme...and extremely stunted. I did feel that type of community, back in college, but not since having kids, not in the real world anyway. I do have some friends that have chosen to share a very large house with a few other families, others have worked at "urban communes"...in that they chose to buy houses in similar areas together and live life as you wrote about in your post. I long for something like that. I don't think women in particular were meant to live in such isolation, and I suppose it adds to the level of postpartum depression in our society. I regularly hear friends talk about how they'd like a "sister wife"...not that they want their husband to take another bride, but they really just want that closeness, someone else to help with the chores and doing life together. I'm still hoping to find that kind of thing here in my town but so far no luck.

lydia said...

Good thoughts, Asher's Mom. It's a salient point that today's style of living is extreme compared to past cultures. It makes me wonder how I can replace my current norm with something more wholesome.

Anonymous said...

Lydia (and Asher's mom), I am right there with you. I got a taste of this last year during a year long community internship. Now that's over and I'm longing for something even more. It's a shame that our modern culture values personal privacy and individuality to the detriment of relationships and community. I know there are many women out there who crave this, we just need to find them and to make a way. I'm hoping the friendships I have and the ones I'll make in our future city will turn into this...otherwise, know of any good communes? Maybe I'll start one ;)

Gwen said...

Gwen said: Lydia, I had a friend like that when my kids were young. We cooked together, cleaned each other's houses together, and played together with our children. I miss her, she moved away. Perhaps God is calling you to reach out to your neighbors and develop that type of relationship. I think most women long for it, but may not even know that it's possible to have that kind of community in our fast paced world!

lydia said...

That's great, Claire and Gwen. I'd love to hear more about both of your experiences!

One thought I was considering was putting out an invitation on local message boards. For instance, Mothering.com has forums for many cities, including internationally. In my area there is a natural parenting Facebook community as well. Even if you aren't really crunchy, I find the crunchy folks are more open to time margin that allows for this sort of thing.

After I posted this entry, an acquaintance let me know she was interested and became a friend! So maybe the lesson here is to go ahead and be up-front even if it does scare a few people away. Friendships are worth taking risks for!

Jennifer said...

I think it's a good point that we have to take risks and that it is worth it. I was feeling super isolated here and then realized that I haven't invited anyone over to hang out!
I think the biggest/hardest barrier for me in this equation is exhaustion, business, and lack of time. I feel like I barely give my husband and family enough as it is (after work obligations are taken care of) and it feels wrong to take more time away from them. But I do think women especially need community and "girl time." I don't know what the answer is! But I hope there is one...I look forward to hearing more from you on how you do this in daily life. :-)

Anna said...

I think Asher's Mom is so right about women not being made for isolation. At least not in general. I'm sure there are the occasional women who really do prefer to be isolated. The thought that it could be linked to postpartum depression is very interesting.

Personally, I've gone through both stages in life. After a living situation with 6 other girls in one house, I found myself longing for space. (On the other hand, I did have built-in friends and shoulders to cry on.) Unfortunately, space would not be mine for about a year afterward, but after a short time, I began to get incredibly lonely! Even when your husband is home a lot, it is easy to feel this way.

Currently, we are living with my folks, (as Lydia knows), we have the addition of a baby, and I had thought that it would be hard and that I would once again crave space. Quite the contrary. I have thoroughly enjoyed always having someone to talk to, and while mom has been gone 2 1/2 of the last 3 weeks, I have missed her dreadfully! I am somewhat dreading the time when we are able to get back on our feet and move out, because that will make for some very lonely days. So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm game for a commune!

lydia said...

Jennifer, I think that you are onto something with the the thought about feeling that spending time with women is stealing time from family. But I know I have more to give when I have had some time with other ladies. Maybe hanging out family to family is a good solution there?

Anna, I have long said we should live next door! Every once in a while I see a pair of houses that seem like good candidates!


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