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“I don’t understand,” she said as tears streamed down her little face. “Why is it that she is always with Megan and never seems to have time to do fun things with me anymore?” Does this scenario sound familiar? While it can be a common concern among the children in our lives, I have come to realize that they do not have a monopoly on the shift of friendship and the range of emotions that come with it. Yes, this too happens to us adults…including parents.
You’re a mom now. You are constantly preoccupied with the kids, home, work, and any other major responsibility that has been added to the mix. We may all have the same 24 hours in a day to get things done, but let’s face it…those 24 hours never seem like enough and you begin to feel like your kid’s pet hamster running like crazy in that tiny, cramped wheel. Everything and everyone all seem to consume you, your time, and your energy, leaving very little for anyone else outside of your immediate family circle. Being a family engineer is hard work. As we talked about in one of my previous posts, “SAHMs and the Fight Against Depression, Why Is This Happening?”. It is an ALL DAY gig. You’re always on call, you don’t get to take a sick day, and you still have to work during vacations. In addition to that, everyone else’s problem is your problem and the deadline for having it all worked out was yesterday!
Prior to marriage, becoming a mother, relocating, or really any life changing event, we may have had a particular close knit circle of friends…our “tribe” as it is sometimes called. Each person in the tribe most likely had their naturally assigned roles which kept the dynamics of the group in balance. For example, there may have been the decision maker, the peace keeper, the comedian, the home body, and so on. Unfortunately, whenever a member of the group experiences a “status update”, so does the friendship. We simply seem to drift apart over time, due to changing interests or circumstances. As a result, the adjustment period thereafter may not always run smoothly.
GRIEVING THE LOSS OF FRIENDSHIP
Soon after sensing a breakdown in a relationship, we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of a grieving period. We mourn the loss of the closeness we once experienced with that person(s), the time we used to spend together, and the important moments of our lives we once shared. Depending on the circumstances of the shift, a sense of betrayal may even be felt by one or all parties. Perhaps one person feels like they have been casually dumped and pushed aside while the other may feel that their friend just doesn’t understand the demands her life currently requires. Yes, feelings of abandonment and loneliness may creep in and eat away at your soul. When this happens, what can we do?
PICKING UP THE PIECES
“I felt like I needed closure,” one person said. “I had a hard time adjusting to it not being the two of us anymore…honestly, I didn’t even know what happened.” We’ve all been there before. You’re piecing together the puzzle, thinking about everything that happened over the past several weeks or months trying to gain some sort of understanding as to what went wrong. Was it something you said or did? Maybe even something you didn’t do but should have? Whatever the problem may be, there is only one way to find out… ASK.
If you ask any professional, I’m pretty sure they will tell you that one of the most important parts of any relationship is going to be communication. The only way to fully understand what’s going on in another person’s head is to carefully and lovingly listen to what comes out of their mouth. We must TRULY listen to what the other person has to say and do so without judgement. You may have even seen that famous quote by Stephen R. Covey which says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” I read that on Pinterest a while back, and have never been able to forget it. Why? Because it’s the honest truth. Really… it is. Think back…has that ever happened to you? You are waist deep in a conversation with someone, supposedly “hearing them out” when all the while you’re really just sitting there formulating your own counter argument. Ugh…Guilty! [Judging others during a conversation, although common, detracts from the importance and meaning of what is being said. If you are consumed in your own head with judgmental or negative thoughts, it becomes increasingly difficult to actively listen to and empathize with the other person. In turn, you may respond to your own thoughts rather than to what the speaker has revealed, thereby unknowingly breaking down the communication process and leaving feelings of frustration and judgment.]- Karen Kleinschmidt, How to Listen Without Judging, Our Everyday Life.
Even though we do sometimes end up parting ways for one reason or another, that doesn’t always have to be the case. If we can talk things out and understand each others point of view, we just might be able to regain our friendship. Of course, this will mean that we will have to accept the fact that the friendship is not going to be the same as it was. Indeed, we won’t be spending as much time together as before, whether in person or on the phone. Don’t worry… all is not lost. Despite all of that, it is still possible to remain close.
If you are like me, during the early years of parenthood, you may find phone conversations excruciating. There’s always some sort of noise in the background and your attention will surely be divided…not to mention being interrupted every five words. I personally try to save phone conversations for times when the kids are busy, or asleep. Especially if I know it will end up being an important one. Not only can it be frustrating for you, but also the person on the other end.
Social media is popular among some moms. We get to see what’s going on with everyone and post a few updates of our own. My only problem with this is that I can go long stretches not checking or posting. It honestly depends on how things are going and if I have any spare time to really catch up. After all, if we aren’t careful, it can gradually turn into a major time suck.
Personally, text messages have become a life saver. I can reply when I can, and the other person doesn’t have to suffer through hearing everything that’s going on in the background. Plus, it’s a lot harder to forget what was said since it’s in a message right in front of your face (oh, the joys of “mommy brain”). I’m pretty sure some of the people in my life have no idea how often I think about them and WANT to get together. But yes, for one distraction or another, as soon as they are in my head a diaper needs to be changed or a sibling dispute settled and then that’s all she wrote until the next time I have a moment to stop and think. For this reason, some of my friends and family may be used to getting a completely random text (or yikes….phone call) from time to time. It’s my way of telling them, “Hey, you’ve been on my mind, and even though I know we’re both super busy…I miss you and I love you.”
Well, those are my two cents. What are yours? Share what works best for you when it comes to staying connected to your friends in the comments below.
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