Because there is no family exactly like mine, there are no schedules exactly like mine either. In my near four years of motherhood, I’ve come to discover different “seasons” of friendship. Whether they are literal seasons or seasons of life!
I’m about to join the “school world” as my son approaches his first preschool experience. Up until this point, I’ve gotten a little down in the dumps when a new school year rolls around. Everyone is posting pictures and buying new clothes and there is an overall feeling of a fresh start in the air--it's exciting. But the hard part about watching all of the neighbor kids head back to school is the reality that my “summer friends” are all slowly going to disappear!
When school starts, busy schedules start up too! I don’t often have the obligation to run my children around to different practices or appointments yet. Other moms are living out of their car playing chaperone daily. So as fall rolls in, it’s almost as if my season of real good friendships is over! There aren’t kids outside playing at all hours of the day – or moms accompanying them for me to stop and chat with. And my young family seems to become cooped up indoors as everyone else resumes a typical school schedule. A schedule so very different from mine.
There are a few exceptions to this “summer friend” phenomenon. Some families I know practically disappear when summer hits! Vacations, family reunions, sports, etc. keep them away from their homes constantly – these friends of mine are more consistently home while their children are at school and they only have their young ones (my kids' ages) at home.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that cold weather in the winter keeps everyone indoors and as the snow melts in the spring, I’m reintroducing my children and myself to my neighbors. And summer rolls back around and I ultimately get all of my friends back! This concept of seasonal friends is definitely something I’ve experienced, but not as tangibly as I experience it now that I’m a mother. Perhaps it’s because I often get lonely and crave adult interaction, or perhaps it’s because I see the benefit others have on my children, or a combination of both.
Seasons of Life
I have a handful of friends who are not yet married, a fair amount of friends who are married without kids, a whole slew of friends and neighbors who have established families – both in or out of the baby/toddler stages, and a select few who are roughly in the same boat I’m in. It’s just how life goes. You can bet I value each friendship and take from them bits and pieces to add to my life’s bucket of knowledge and experience! But I have found that it sometimes becomes tricky to manage all of these different friendships. I hate that it is that way, but I think it’s just a fact of life for every single one of us.
It isn’t super practical to hang out with friends in the same way I used to before I had children. More preparations are necessary, whether the kids are brought along or a babysitter is established. In an ideal world, we’d have friends over for dinner or game nights on a regular basis – but our children’s bedtimes and rowdiness get in the way of the reality of this. I’d say I have a good balance of toughening up and putting in the extra effort to attend outings with kids mixed in with also being logical and needing to say “no” to certain situations.