For our entire married life, Bray and I didn’t have couple friends, or family friends once the kids came. We always had very different interests. I’m more of a movies, art, theatre, travel girl. He’s more of a tractor, rancher, hunter boy. The back of our newlywed Thank You notes read, in small print, John Deere Republican, Urbanite Democrat, Newlyweds.
Then came triplets. We met a few families with multiples but, as you might imagine, life with young triplets and two careers doesn’t lend itself to get-togethers. At the time, the only commonality we had when “family” play dates did happen were multiples.
Then the kids moved to a new school this year.
The weirdest thing started happening. We started making “family friends.” Part of it might be the kids getting older or us engaging more. Part may have been we no longer had a nanny running back and forth to the school. But a big part of it was God.
We started meeting the moms and dads of our kids closest friends. Moms I adored hanging out with while the kids jumped on the trampoline. Dads Bray could talk to for hours about hunting and fishing while frying fish for an impromptu dinner. We were given friends inside and outside the walls of our school. Mommas who were working long hours and still trying to make birthday parties perfect. Dads who had lost their jobs and were casting about for what was next. We had divorced friends and married friends. Friends with only children and friends with multiple children. Friends who’d lived in Texas their whole life and friends who were new transplants from overseas.
Most of all, we made friends willing to open their arms and their doors. And so we did the same. We invited families into our messy home with carpet stains and Legos strewn about and art paperwork piled high on the bar (dude – the amount of first grade art from triplets!?!?).
I mentioned yesterday I’m part of a launch team for Lisa Jo Baker’s new book, Never Unfriended. She writes about exactly where I found myself at the beginning of this year: For many of us women, I think our craving for connection is in direct conflict with our obsession with perfection… That standard of entertaining means that we’ll be too busy cleaning and prepping to remember that friendship works best when we show up just the way we are… Because friendship shouldn’t equal entertaining. It starts with our willingness to open the door whether we’re prepared or not… Friendship teaches us that perfect is rarely as interesting and never as satisfying as real. Never Unfriended, Chapter 8.
I began craving connection more than perfection. I needed more in real life friends for our whole family. People who made all five of us feel welcome.
So…we found families. We invite each other over. We make plans but we also just show up sometimes. Whether it’s us having folks over for dinner and play dates or them hosting acting classes and end of season parties. Most of the time, it’s messy. Our lives are busy and messy and, so far, we’re all being pretty honest about that. But it feels like I have a local tribe now. Men and women and kids who are all doing life together.
As a blogger, I’ve had this extended tribe of women around the country for sometime. But I’d prayed for families we could do life with. Ones who wanted to raise their kids with some of the same basic values so we felt comfortable swapping each other’s littles after school or meeting up for pizza on Saturday nights.
Lisa Jo says, “Maybe the most intimate radical thing we can do for our friends is to show up.”
That can be hard to do these days.
We are all so busy. And your kid is in karate and mine is in gymnastics and you have baseball tonight and I’ve got the spring musical this weekend. You’re out-of-town for work and my husband is gone this weekend.
Boy, it’s hard to find time to show up. But nothing beats it. And I’ve learned that firsthand this year as God has gifted us with these amazing families with whom we can carve out memories.