Tag Archives: Friends

On helping.

January 16, 2014

05

When you have a baby, a strange thing happens. All of a sudden people help you. Long lost relatives, old friends, new neighbors, people you’ve never met on the Internet–they throw together some of their best lasagnas and care packages full of chocolate and just give it to you.

When I had Waylon I was surprised by how much those gestures mattered; how a spare casserole or an encouraging note made all the difference in a day. I was even more surprised by my feelings of helplessness. I wanted my mom. I wanted Austin. I wanted someone with me so I wasn’t alone to handle a new baby, fragile nerves, and anxious bowels by myself.

I was surprised by my weakness. I was surprised by how much I needed help.

Of course there is good help and then the other kind of help who just wants to hold the baby for five hours and ask if you just love being a mommy. But mostly help is wonderful.

Whenever I talk to other mamas about all that help, we always have the same frustration. After you’ve been helped, you just want to help back, pay it forward. You want to find all the new moms you know and bring them magazines and dark chocolate truffles and clean their fridge. You want to share the love.

The problem is when you have a needy infant or an energetic toddler, your help becomes less helpful and more of a hazard. You want to hold the new baby, but your own baby is crying. You want to let your sister take a nap, but it’s your own kid’s naptime. You want to do the dishes, but oops–your toddler is unplanting all the houseplants.

Take it from me, it is impossible to vacuum your new mom friend’s house with a two year old because he will undo all your help faster than you can say “Sorry there is now poop on your carpet.”

Of course there are smaller gestures, and the truth is that most of the time it’s easier for everyone if you just mail a box of diapers and keep your encouragements virtual. But when it’s your sister, your dear friend, or someone who could really, really use an extra real-life hand–not being able to show up is heartbreaking.

My hope is that those of us who don’t have extra hands right now will remember this time later. That when our kids are grown, we will seek out the young and the weary and show up. Because if I’ve learned anything from parenthood it’s that it truly takes a village of humans to raise another human. 

May we remember our villages, our helpers, our love and hope spreaders. May we remember the ones who quietly drop off Miralax and extra binkies and play with our toddlers so we can finally breathe. 

May we accept help with quiet thank yous and the promise to remember the sweet burden of a new mom heart.

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When You Are Still A Person

October 14, 2013

000

Something curious happens when you have a child. All of a sudden when you’re at a dinner party or out to lunch with girlfriends or waiting in line at the post office– you have this inexplicable desire to talk about your kid. It happens without any sort of transition or subtle shift. A baby is born and instantly your brain and body turns to mush and you are left babbling about an eight pound sack of potatoes whose only job is to eat and shit.

At first there is no filter. Everything your baby does is amazing and wonderful and horrifying and must be shared. And then you find yourself discussing the color of their last bowel movement over appetizers and remind yourself to maybe reign it in a bit.

I always swore I’d never be one of those parents who always talks about their kid, but here I am with a whole blog dedicated to it so I guess I can chalk that up to a fail. I do hope that my real life conversations with childless friends are a little less peppered with talk about postpartum poo and two year old antics, but it can be hard to know thyself

The truth is even I get tired of the parenting discussion. I love my kid more than the darkest chocolate truffle, but as a friend recently reminded me: I’m still a person. A person with thoughts on things other than diaper brands and when to start introducing solids. A person who reads books and watches the news and listens to music outside of toddler pandora and old vacation bible school tapes. Sometimes when I’m sitting in a circle of moms talking about sleep schedules, I find myself daydreaming about a time when the main topic of conversation was either food or sex. That was a good time.

I know I’m not the only one who gets tired of baby talk. All of my closest mom friends have just as much desire to still be a person outside of motherhood. It’s more of an obstacle when meeting new people and somehow the mom barrier gets in the way of real conversation. Once someone finds out you’re a parent, it can result in an immediate shutdown or a conversation dumbed down to, “I don’t know how you stay at home all day!”

I have yet to form an appropriate response to this declaration.

Roughly half of my friends have children, but that percentage is quickly growing as we enter our 30s. Of course this is all very exciting. There is something about raising children together that is so wonderful, so bond forming, so incredibly important that it makes me weep on a regular basis. I don’t know what I would do without the community of strong women surrounding me both in the flesh and across the seas. The song doesn’t lie. It really does take a village. 

That said, the mantra that I am still a person rings in my ears every time I’m dismissed or generalized or put in a box labeled “boring” just because I’m home changing diapers. Perhaps it is my own insecurity, but whenever I’m talking to someone who works outside the home, I feel a strange sense of urgency to prove I can do other things. “Look!” I want to shout. “I write things on a computer!”

Last week this post about stay at home moms went viral for reasons I can only assume have something to do with the fact that it’s a man publicly praising his wife for working hard. I mean, I understand the warm fuzzy appeal. I read the article and felt better about myself right away. Who wouldn’t? Praise me!

But then I thought, haven’t we been saying this same thing over and over and over for the past decade? How many times do we need to be validated? How many times do we need to prove we are also a person?

There is no great answer, except to say that if you’re feeling bad about yourself and are not afraid to embrace the occasional pop song–singing along to Katy Perry’s Roar at the top of your lungs really does help you feel like a powerful woman. (Note: if you are 8 months pregnant, it will also make you cry).

Carry on.

You are a champion.

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Rules For Women in 2013

August 1, 2013

London Rain

My girl Anna shared these Girl Code Rules from Elle yesterday. They made me laugh, especially these three:

• Never dine alone with a friend’s boyfriend (unless it’s his last meal and he’s being shot at dawn).

• Never steal your friend’s thunder at a dinner party—when she’s on, give her room! Pound the table! Bang your glass with a spoon! Laugh the loudest at her story!

• Never agree when a friend says she’s flabby, baggy, saggy, lumpy, floppy, veiny, squishy, scrawny, etc., etc. Tell her to shut up. Tell her life is too short. Tell her to eat, drink, and be merry. 

Girl Code is tricky because even though it seems black and white, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you date your friend’s ex even though you know you shouldn’t and sometimes you hold back from liking your friend’s instagram picture because you just can’t take another selfie with the caption: “My hair is so terrible today!” (aka: TELL ME I’M BEAUTIFUL).

E. Jean outlines some great rules when it comes to girl code. I nodded voraciously over each one.

Some humble additions:

  •  If your girlfriend asks if you’d like to go with her to the bathroom, always say yes. She’s not afraid of going alone. She is not being needy or clingy. She just wants to speak to you in private. It is an honor to receive this request. Put down your dinner roll and be grateful. 
  • Do not be one of those women who say, “I just get along better with guys” because it’s a lie. Every girl gets along better with guys. Female relationships take work. Relationships with men do not because you have boobs and they want to go to there.
  • If your girlfriend asks you if she should get bangs, the answer is no.
  • If your girlfriend asks you if you like her new haircut featuring bangs, the answer is yes.
  • If one of your best friends facebooks, tweets, or Instagrams–it is your job to get the ball rolling by publicly affirming her.
  • Do not criticize your girlfriend’s parenting.
  • Do not criticize your girlfriend’s marriage.
  • Do not offer advice unless advice is requested. Even then, keep your words brief and your ears open.
  • Do not let jealousy ruin real relationship.
  • 50% of female communication is affirmation. Embrace it. Yes, you deserve that ice cream. Yes, you knew it was over. Yes, you tried your best at art. The rest of the time it’s just being an honest and tactful human being.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • If there’s been a rift in communication and too much time has passed, it can all be solved with a handwritten letter.
  • Never post vague, passive aggressive statements about girlfriends in a public space. 
  • Be the girl at the bridal/baby showers who is helping. There’s nothing else to do anyway.
  • If your girlfriend has you over for dinner, help clear the dishes. Compliment her decor. 
  • If your girlfriend is pregnant or has a baby, applaud her courage. If you’re not excited, fake it and send flowers.
  • Copy with care.
  • Think carefully before bringing up anything remotely private in front of your girlfriend’s husband/boyfriend/partner. 
  • No matter what, remember this: Women who support other women will always be happier and healthier. 

 

What are your rules? What’s listed in your girl code?

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6 Types Of Friends You Should Have

November 7, 2012

In a study made popular by morning shows and Internet news, new studies suggest there are six types of friends everyone should have. I first saw it on the Today Show, and since I’ve been researching friendship, naturally I was interested.

According to some experts, every group of friends needs a set of classic friend stereotypes. “It’s important to have diversity and to be able to look for support from a variety of sources,” says clinical and coaching psychologist, Dr. Suzy Green. “They also help us to keep broader perspective on life.”

Domonique Bertolucci, life coach and author of The Happiness Code, agrees. “You need different types of friends in the same way that you need food from different food groups. Different types of friends serve different purposes and nourish and enrich our lives in different ways.”

The Herald Sun outlined these types as seen below:

THE FRIEND WHO’S COOLER THAN YOU
The world changes quickly and some people are just that little bit better at keeping up with what’s hip than we are. Like those friends who know that NO ONE EVER says “hip” any more, for instance. We like to be around these people, because they’re a beacon of cool. Cool things just flock to them. These are the people who help you to open your eyes, have a flow-on effect for introducing you to other cool people and help to unstick yourself from the rut that’s all too easy to get bogged in. “These people enrich your life by exposing you to things that may have otherwise have passed you by,” says Bertolucci.

(Read: the one who wore skinny jeans first)

THE FRIEND WHO IS UP FOR ANYTHING
People are busy, we get it. But there’s nothing more frustrating than having to reschedule your re-re-re-scheduled catch-up. Everyone needs a friend who you can call at the drop of a hat. A friend who says “hell yeah, I’m up for that”. That’s why it’s good to have a mate who you don’t need to issue a 28-day notice to just to meet for a frappuccino. It’s refreshing (the friend, that is, not necessarily the frappuccino.) “This friend is the flexible, no frills friend who makes your life a breeze. Nothing is ever too hard and they’re open to doing new things and changing plans at short notice,” says Dr. Green. While Bertolucci agrees, “Their enthusiasm is contagious and you always have more fun when they are around.”

(Read: the one on your speed dial)

THE FRIEND WHO YOU ASPIRE TO BE
Oprah Winfrey once said: “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher”. And we all need to live life a little bit closer to Oprah. These people challenge you to be the best version of yourself. The only downside is that sometimes they can be infuriating and inspiring in equal measure. Dr. Green’s advice: “This friend is only an important role model if they behave in ways that are authentic and genuine. They will see the best in you and give you important feedback on both your strengths and weaknesses.”

(Read: the one you don’t watch The Bachelor with)

THE FRIEND WHO DOESN’T KNOW ANY OF YOUR OTHER FRIENDS
We like integration. We like killing two birds with one stone by catching up with several groups of friends at once. But there are times when you need to make an S.O.S call to a friend who is completely uninvolved and removed from a situation who can offer objective advice so it a bonus that your friendship exists without orbiting around your other ones. “There is a level of privacy to this friendship that doesn’t exist in friendship circles,” says Bertolucci. “It will be easier to share some of your hopes and dreams, fears and concerns knowing that they are not going to be discussed when you’re not around.”

(Read: the one you do watch The Bachelor with)

THE FRIEND WHO’S PAINFULLY HONEST
An honest friend will not always tell you what you want to hear, but they’ll certainly tell you what you need to know like if he/she is really that into you. When you’ve got a crisis on your hands or need to make a quick decision they are your go-to. They’re also there to keep you away from mixing paisleys and stripes. This type of friend has the strength of “feedback” and “is a pearl who will tell it to you straight when others won’t or will sugarcoat things at the very least,” says Dr. Green. But she warns that this friend is someone who does it with good intentions and for your own benefit.

(Read: the one you fight with)

THE FRIEND YOU’VE KNOWN LONGER THAN YOU’VE KNOWN YOURSELF
History. Sometimes it works to your advantage, other times it doesn’t. This is that friend who sees you out of the context of your job, your relationship, your other friends and your life as it is now. This is the friend who knew you when you had pimples and a bowl cut. There is something special about this person because they feel like home. It’s nice and comforting to be around someone who has known you forever. “This is a friend you never have to put on a brave face for,” says Bertolucci. “They know you better than you know yourself and accept you unconditionally.”

(Read: the one who knows)

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I found the whole thing fascinating, and I agree–most of these categories are helpful and even important (the friend who is up for anything), but I have some other categorizes to add. For example, the friend who will binge eat brownies with you or the friend who always paints your nails even though you never reciprocate because you hate painting nails. The friend who doesn’t judge when you instagram breakfast from across the table. The friend you can shop with, watch 90s sitcoms with, a friend who remembers Blossom. The friend who cries at the same music, laughs at the same commercials, who texts you at 3AM because they forgot to tell you they saw Karen Walters in the dairy aisle and it’s true what they say about girls who peak in high school. The friend who knows how you like your eggs and orders a water for you while you’re in the bathroom. The friend who was there when you were not yourself, but loved you anyway. The friend you call just to say, “this really is the worst.”

Without these friends, I don’t know where I’d be.

What do you think? Is this important? Do you have these six types of friends? A friend who is all of these combined?

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