If there’s anything cuter than one little blond-haired, blue-eyed baby girl, it’s two little blond-haired, blue-eyed baby girls.
My daughter Reese and I recently met up with a friend of mine and her toddler, who is two months older than Reese, for a lunch date and some playground time in Savannah’s Forsyth Park.
The little ones smiled happily while taking turns on a swing and seemed to enjoy sharing cut-up grapes and Gerber puffed-wheat snacks, while the mommies caught up on chit-chat and compared parenting notes. It was a nice reminder that while first-time moms might be awash in conflicting practices, emotions, ideas and theories, we certainly are not alone in this journey. Knowing that, as a group, we all face similar challenges and trials is somehow reassuring.
Although the two babes are a little too young to really engage in any kind of organized-play activity, the experience made me realize it won’t be long before Reese has actual friends — friends whose houses she’ll want to visit, friends who will come over to our home to play after school, friends with whom she’ll sit and talk during recess and lunch. When she gets a little older, I plan to give Reese some advice about how to approach friendships — knowledge I wish I’d been equipped with earlier in life.
I will stress the need to approach friendships with an open mind and the importance of working hard to maintain them.
I’m an opinionated, sensitive person, and my whole life — even to this day — I’ve battled the tendency to judge those who don’t agree with me and to take others’ actions and opinions personally. This character flaw of mine is a bit ironic, honestly, since I’m a journalist, trained to be objective and thick-skinned to the core. I don’t seem to have a problem with these issues in my professional life, but personal relationships are a different story.
I want Reese to know it’s OK to befriend people whose beliefs, opinions, choices and attitudes vary from her own. I’ll teach her to remind herself that someone isn’t necessarily doing or saying something that she doesn’t agree with simply to get under her skin. I hope she’ll grasp that concept better than I have. I was well into adulthood before I realized that — gasp! — those around me don’t always factor me into their decisions and actions. OK, fine … sometimes I still have to remind myself of that.
Additionally, friendships don’t maintain themselves. As a journalist, I’ve worked in six different cities throughout my career. My experiences have allowed me to make a lot of friends, and they’re scattered all over the world — from New Zealand, Spain and Egypt to California, Texas and New York City. We stay caught up through social media and emails — even an occasional phone call — but I have few tried-and-true friends on whom I could call in the event of an emergency or a crisis that demanded sincere emotional support.
I’d likely have a few more close friends if I’d been willing to invest the time, effort and dedication that such relationships require. I plan to tell Reese that if a friend needs her, she should help. It’s as simple as that. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to returning phone calls, replying to emails and paying back favors. Friends can drift apart quickly, and it’s not always easy to get relationships back on track.
Living 14 hours away from my family and four hours away from my husband’s family for 10 years now has taught me that, in some instances, friends are all you’ve got. Although it isn’t always easy, treasuring them and treating them well is a good use of time and energy. I want Reese to know that.