I like to get to know people. If you sit beside me at our kids’ sporting events, I’m gonna ask questions about your child and start up a conversation. If you move next door to me, I’m gonna bake you cookies and knock on your door. If you volunteer for a school field trip, we’re gonna share parenting tips and tricks and laugh at the common ground we share on the idiosyncrasies of 6 year olds. I’m not trying to be a busy body or nosey. I think it’s just called being a “people person” and I’m genuinely interested in other people’s lives and stories. I don’t want to know people on superficial levels. I’d rather have friends than acquaintances. I take the Christian view of “treating others how you want to be treated” and “love they neighbor as thyself” to heart and that’s one of the reasons I want to make friends with those I meet. Plus I remember being new to my church, gym, neighborhood, etc. and in need of a friend. Therefore, I always feel the need to be the welcoming one seeking out new friendships. Well I used to. Then it became a bit of a problem.
And I currently don’t want any more friends.
See I have this thing called a husband. And we had two other things called daughters. And they aren’t things! They are my biggest blessings and priorities. In order for our family to bond and cultivate a relationship, we need to spend time together. And in order for my friendships to grow or remain strong, I also have to spend time with them. So how can I give my family the time we need if I’m adding more friends to the equation?
If I keep making friends (and I mean true friends, kindred spirits, sharing lifes ups and downs…not shallow acquaintances), I find myself being torn from my precious family time, and that’s not okay. I can’t overcommit to “friend things”: a Bunco night, a book club, a fundraiser, a school drive, a neighborhood meeting, a Bible study, a game night, a gym class, a playgroup, a professional group, a volunteer organization, etc. I know what you are thinking…those are activities, not friends! Yes they are, but they are all ways I’ve met my friends and deepened our relationships over the years. When I think back on the ways I’ve strengthened my friendships there is usually some activity at the center of it, we aren’t just sitting on a phone texting…and if we are then add texting sessions to the list above! I can do SOME of these things with my friends, but not ALL of the things. I have to pick and choose, being careful to cultivate what I have and not neglect by adding more people to my tribe.
And yet…it sounds so rude. To me anyway. I’m not being hateful or unkind to anyone, but I feel I’m not being myself anymore by not being as outwardly outgoing and friendly. I’m not chatting as much with parents I run into at the store, or school, or sports events. I’m not planning as many game nights or hosting friend dinners. I’m more of a homebody these days and I am enjoying the time with my family! Is that showing wisdom with respect to my family time and the friends I have, or am I missing some opportunities to reach out to other moms in my city who may need a friend?
A very wise woman once told me (it was actually Erin, the OKCMB co-founder, Hi Erin!) that I could look at the situation as “being open to new relationships, but not seeking them out.” That does sound better I guess, and it’s better than thinking, “I don’t want anymore friends.” Because I actually do!
I just also want more hours in the day so I can accommodate the energy it takes to tend to all the friendships!
But since I can’t bend the space time continuum to allow this to happen- what are my choices? For now I’ve decided I’m gonna keep being kind to those around me, but without adding any extra time commitments. Just know if you sit down by me at our kids’ gymnastics class next week and I overhear you talking about your latest Netflix obsession, favorite zumba teacher, and current old house renovation project, I’m gonna be biting my tongue real hard not to ask if you wanna join us for a cupcake after class!