Once You Become Parents We WANT You In Our Life…

I have been mulling over how I feel about the Huffington Post “Once We Become Parents We Don’t Want to Hang Out With You Anymore” for a little over a week now. Before we begin, you really will need to read the article to understand my thoughts below.

As a single person, the post is hurtful and rude.

First, let me start out by saying, I totally get that it is meant to be conveyed with somewhat of a sense of humor. I also understand that this is not the perspective of all married’s with children, nor is it directed at all single friends.

However, I am fairly frustrated with not just the post, but also how many of my friends circulated the article gladly touting that it conveyed their sentiments perfectly. All I could think was, “Sad day for our friendship.”

Humor or not, it is hurtful as someone on the other side essentially being told my friendship is not worthy of the extra effort or care needed.

Perhaps the sentiments in the article and by my friends loving it were meant to be directed towards young single friends always wanting to go out and play..
Maybe she has crappy single friends..
Maybe she is selfish (I do not know her so I really cannot speak to that)..
Maybe her friends are selfish (I know even less about her friends)..
Maybe she is frustrated..
Maybe a million and one things prompted her article…

Maybe my perspective is different from most because I am almost 30..
Maybe I don’t see the problem since the vast majority of my friends are married or married with children…
Maybe I find it hurtful since I am not single by choice…
Maybe I just have exceptional friends (which is actually probably the case)…

I have (of course) experienced the close friends who have gotten married, had kids, and disappeared… But, far more often, I have experienced that while friendships change, they stay just as meaningful and connected… just with more effort and a few adorable tag alongs.

You see, I am fully aware (but obviously not personally experienced) that children (especially babies) are work, and time-consuming.. and exhausting.

I also understand that life goes through seasons, it ebbs and flows, and I totally get that sometimes life just escapes us, and suddenly it has been three months… Life happens, no matter what stage of life you are in, it happens.

My frustration is the rude perspective she shares in her article. Not once did she seem to actually convey care for or about her single friends… or maybe they haven’t communicated their love and care for her, so her response actually seems justified in her own eyes…

Perpetually, the author makes comments that explain, complain, and belittle her single friends:
If we do see you outside of our typical schedule, particularly in the evening hours, take it as a huge compliment.”

Which, says to me, “I have blessed you with my presence. You’re welcome.”

Blessing me with your presence is not a friendship at all. I have no desire to be anyone’s charity case simply due to the fact that pre-children we used to be close friends. I desire friendship, with all the ups and downs and changing of the seasons. I want to help you, and know how to pray for you, or just offer a listening ear to your frustrations.

Apparently her friends have no desire to help:
We just can’t focus on you very well when we have to simultaneously keep an eye on our kids, making sure they don’t choke, drown in a randomly placed vat of water or get a head injury bumping into the pointy corner of a table.”

I don’t want your focus either if it means potential harm to your kids!.. What I do want is to live life as friends… even if I must also help keep an eye on your children. I would never dream of trying to gain your attention without also assisting with the children… I happily would spend time talking in a McDonald’s play place.. the park.. your living room, pushing your child in a stroller, taking my turn holding and feeding… I am totally game. Bring it on.

You see, part of my perspective comes from my exceptional friends that have children and still seek to have a friendship with me…

A friend of mine and her husband have four awesome children under five (or six.. I forget)… The middle two are even twins! I am constantly in awe of her. She not only tells me regularly how much she enjoys our friendship, misses me, or randomly sends me a hand drawn birthday card from one of her munchkins.. BUT, she invites me to come stay and hang out for a weekend.
I heart her and her whole family.
I heart snuggle time with her babies.
I heart getting to help her change diapers, fold clothes, cook dinner, and laugh at the ridiculousness that is the chaos of her life.
But, mostly I heart that she includes me and gives me the chance to help her and just be a part of her life.
I heart doing mundane with her… even if it means laughing while I do the dishes so she can chase down a child who has removed their diaper again, or folding clean diapers while she handles meltdowns.

I have another spectacular friend that makes it a point to call me while she drives or Facetime with me quietly while her baby cries herself to sleep. The twenty to thirty minute conversations make my day, and often my week!.. I will literally drop everything to talk to her every time she calls.
That same friend e-mails me random thoughts/responses/jokes/and ridiculousness from her day while she is at work.
In fact, we laugh that our friendship is one ongoing snail-paced conversation that never really ends or starts, but just continues with breaks (often days/weeks) in between.

And, still another friend has older children and is perpetually sitting at sports games or shuttling them places. We text, talk on the phone for a couple of minutes, and plan when we can hang out… Even if it means joining her in her errands, I love her, and her family, and cherish that I get to be a part.

You see, as selfish as it is, I desire friendship with kids in tow and all, no matter what it looks like. In fact, many of my friends with children have also been the ones who have encouraged me and supported me through some of the darkest and most painful seasons of my life… I do not know how I would have made it through without the friend calling me on Facetime on a particularly difficult day so that I could see and talk to her smiling baby girl.

Did you know baby giggles and snuggles can brighten anyones day?

So, when I hear that people “loved” this article, I find it hurtful. All that is conveyed is that because I do not have children, I am unworthy of the extra effort and friendship. It convey’s that I have nothing to offer you, and I am not considered a true friend, therefore I cannot be welcomed into your life…

Such a sad day for friendships.

Obviously since I am single, I know that my life looks vastly different, but one day I would love to be in your shoes… I would love to learn and find out what it looks like to have children, the chaos, messes, breakdowns, illnesses, and all.

The author says at the end: “Don’t give up on us — we’ll emerge and thrive again, once conditions are right.”

Sadly, life moves on, and if I am not important enough to actually be allowed to be friends with you now, I will move on and our friendship will have died “once conditions are right.”

The sad part is, I would gladly babysit (for free) so that my friends can get date nights (or weekends!) with their spouses. I am happy to come help, to encourage, to pray for you, to love on your children. If you maintain a friendship with me, I will better know how to show you love and care.. And selfishly, I need you and the munchkins in my life because I do not get to go home to a husband or children no matter how much I would love to.

So, to all of my friends that are also parents, don’t shut us out just because we don’t have mini-me’s running around. We singles need you, your friendship, your children, and the chaos that is your life in ours.

Reason to Sing…

I stumbled upon Reason to Sing by All Sons & Daughters over the weekend. It has been out for a while (several years actually), but somehow I missed this song in my regular search for new music of every genre. I love this song. My favorite thing is the progression of feeling, which adequately uses music to communicate how I have been feeling.

When the pieces seem to shatter
To gather off the floor
And all that seems to matter
Is that I don’t feel you anymore
No I don’t feel you anymore
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
I need a reason to sing

For months I have struggled with feeling like things have shattered, and that I have been left alone to clean up the mess. I have felt abandoned, alone, and tried my hardest to feel God again… And cried repeatedly when I didn’t. I have wanted desperately to feel connected, joyful, and like I had worship within me. I so badly have wanted to feel in my heart once again that God still has everything together, and that He will work it all out for my good and to bring Him glory in the end. I did not care as much about the whole world, but needed to know that I was seen and my world was loved and cared for.

When I’m overcome by fear
And I hate everything I know
If this waiting lasts forever
I’m afraid I might let go
I’m afraid I might let go”

Fear has been a huge part of this journey, especially as it seems to be dragging on with no ending in sight. I have denied fear and hurt often, but the reality is “what if..” has plagued me for nine months now… And for a year prior to that for different reasons than I face currently.

Will there be a victory
Will You sing it over me now
Your peace is the melody
Will you sing it over me now”

My mind and heart have battled for months between my head knowing God will come through and my heart being fickle and unsure. I have prayed daily for victory, reassurance, peace, and confidence in my heart once again.

Then slowly, almost without noticing, it has transitioned into:

I will sing, sing, sing 
To my God, my King 
For all else fades away
And I will love, love, love
With this heart you’ve made for me
For you’ve been good always
For you’ve been good always.”

Now I find myself sitting in a blending of the two sides of this beautiful song. I have not yet stepped out of seeking for God to sing His victory and peace over me.. But, I have found my heart slowly.. ever so slowly settling into confidence that God has been good always, and He has made my heart to sing to Him while all else fades away.

What a painful journey the last couple years have been. I always expected to get over it when I had a job and felt like I could move on… In a lot of ways that will be true, but I have slowly (seriously slower than a snail slow) have begun to see how God is working on me. Totally not in my timing, definitely not in the ways I wish or would have chosen, but I can see the change, and that alone helps. Just knowing this was not all pointless, that I have grown, my heart has changed, and coming back around to seeing the goodness of God is profoundly helpful.

Borrowed Hope…

2012 Wrap-Up...I was walking my pups, thanks to the (attempting to improve) weather, and thinking and praying through this season of life that I am trying to escape from vehemently, and it dawned on me, I am so thankful despite the suck.

So much of this season has been trying to cling to hope while feeling mostly pain.

In less than two weeks it will be nine months since I have had a full-time permanent job. It has been 264 days since I have felt financially secure.

You can read more about my journey so far herehere, and here if you are interested. That is where you will get at least a small understanding without me having to rehash the struggle and emotions here today.

I have been stressing about money for 263 days, and my bank account has even got down to a balance of -.19. Yet, despite it all, I have not had one missed payment. I have had to fix my car three times, and been able to continue to support the missionaries I have supported for years. The very small amount of income I have has allowed me to continue to tithe, feed my dog, pay my car insurance, cell phone bill, and gas money. And, amazingly, my student loan payments have been able to be paid or deferred.

While I was surveying where I am, and where I have been, the thing that sticks out the most is the provision at exactly the right time. Regardless of my feelings, I cannot deny that more often than not, God has used friends and family to show me tangibly that He still loves, cares about me, and knows exactly what and when my needs are. Despite the mounting obstacles, I have been blown away recently by how much things have come together at exactly the right time.

Normally, and naturally, I am not a person who cares much about being told nice or encouraging things… I am really not a words person at all. I am not a gifts person, and I do not particularly notice if you do or don’t do something nice for me.. Yet, during the last nine months, those things have been life lines to my heart. The small gifts, the words of encouragement, the nicest and most humbling ways that people have shown me love have all been tangible things that God has used to infuse hope into my heart little piece by little piece.

I began thinking through the sheer number of people and times where someone has given me money or supported me in some way; it is absolutely ridiculous. Every single day (no joke) people check in to see how I am doing, let me know they are praying for me, offer me financial support, send a job posting, send me an “I love you” gift, or just listen to me while I verbally process the most recent stress in my life and then show an endless amount of patience with me.

Even people I have never met, but connected to through a mutual friend have shared encouragement, prayers, and potential job leads.

Over and over I have struggled through feeling stuck and trying desperately to hold onto hope. Without fail, ever single time, someone has sent me a letter, message, text, or called and infused my heart with borrowed hope and encouragement.

The sheer fact that I have not been told to shut up and suck it up, or entirely left alone proves how much I am loved; I am amazed and totally undeserving. Goodness knows I have not been the easiest or happiest person to be around. I am amazed by the grace extended to me by so many of my friends and family while I try to work through the stress and emotions each day.

As I think about the last nine months (has it really been that long?!), I am in awe of not just the journey, but also the hundreds of people who have come along side me in one way or another to help me get through it all.

Thank you for allowing me to borrow your hope and for sharing so much tangible love with me throughout all of this. I simply could not have made it this far or at all without the help. I am so grateful.