I grew up with an expectation of deep, gratifying friendships by watching who Don and Jeanne and “the friends” as we call them, and what they became to my parents. I saw how they simply showed up for whatever the occasion called for. Every 4th of July, New Years Eve and Super Bowl Sunday – we spent it together. They showed me that friendship is barely a step away from family – you earn the right to walk into the house uninvited and no one thinks it’s offensive. For us, that’s what friends do – they open their homes and their lives to one another.
I wrote that about a dear friend for her funeral, just a week ago. Because of her new absence, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on my life, my childhood, and the huge blessing of growing up with parents who had strong friendships. Now that I’m an adult and lack the privilege of campus-based friendships, I know how difficult it is to form meaningful relationships. I’ve been blessed beyond reason with friendships through my life, specifically women who I love and can count on when I need it. However, now that we’re in a new location, we’ve felt the void of the simple presence of friends.
Tonight another family came over for a hodge-podge meal and a game of cards. Their little E hovered over JJ to learn the ins and outs of Euchre – meaning JJ told her card 1, 2 or 3 and she threw it – while parents enjoyed a beverage and other kids enjoyed a movie. Some of the kids ran in and out of the basement, in costume. (Yes, all this at once. Between the 2 families there are 7 kids.)
At one point I wanted to wax poetic about the beauty of the scene because it was so reminiscent of my childhood. I have vivid memories of sitting upon my dad’s lap and asking what to throw. We would pop in and out of the card game to beg for food or drink or ask for a movie change (and yes, that was VHS). It was so comfortable and friendly and homey. And tonight I could give that to my own children.
The joy and the challenge of parenthood is taking the best of your own life and offering it to your children while trying to eliminate the elements that sent you to therapy. We want to repeat certain memories while steering clear of other pieces.
Tonight I offered one of the best things I bring to the table: a heritage of easy friendships. Conversations and beer and cards and food and craziness. Kids enjoying a time to play together while adults enjoy a time to – well, play together. I love my kids and wish to give them everything they need – prioritizing adult friendships in front of them is an unrealized gift I can gently place in their back pocket. A day will come when they ask themselves what friends do and what a full life looks like and I have given them a picture of people who simply show up in the midst of the daily grind.