How Do You Know Who is a Friend?

As a stay at home mom, I know the pressures of trying to find balance. It is not easy trying to make everything fit together. I have found that there is one major lifeline to the outside world for me, and that is my phone. This is the only piece of material that I can use without creating absolute chaos and complete havoc.

I know it seems very juvenile, but the phone allows me access to the Internet,  and thereby to email. It gives me an outlet to do adult things, like pay my bills, contact customers for our gunsmithing business, and of course do research on how to improve our business. It also allows me the ability to talk with friends.

After having children, I have had to redefine the role of a friend. Once I was able to go out in the middle of the week. Now, I would be lucky to go out on a Saturday afternoon without dragging along at least one of my children. The ability to be without my children is a major deal in a live interaction because if even one of them is present, conversation tends to focus entirely on the child. My honesty is tentative and I withold information because it seems inappropriate to be raw and complain while also tending to the needs of my child/children. After all, I love them so deeply, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t need time to myself or quiet times.

The problem with maintaining friendships over a text is that it forces us to redefine the role of a friend. I know that I am no longer a good friend by many standards. It breaks my heart that I can no longer get up and go where I want, when I want. It hurts so much that I cannot drop everything and run to help a friend whenever they need it. I must pick and choose when I am able to leave mostly because I am the one that manages our family schedules. If my sleep schedule is off, our schedules are more difficult to maintain, but, even more than that, my relationships with my children and husband turn hostile. Trust me, I know how ridiculous of an excuse it sounds like. Still, between my post-partum depression  (yes, even 7 months after she was born), the crazy sleep schedules of my children, my son crawling into my bed halfway through the night,  and the downright unimaginable energy that my 2 year old boy expels on a daily basis I absolutely need the sleep to maintain my sanity. I just don’t like that I need it so much.

As much as I need in-person social interaction, I know that I cannot return the favor during this season of my life, so the role of a good friend must also change. I mentioned my phone earlier as a lifeline to the outside world. This is how a good friend can help me. Texting is one of the easiest forms of interaction for me. Talking on the phone or hopping on the computer, even for 5 minutes, elicits a response and temper tantrum from my children. A good friend in this season, for me, is someone who can recognize the difficult position I am in and be content and diligent with maintaining our friendship via text. It is someone who reaches out and treats me like a friend even though I cannot be physically available. It is someone who makes the effort to make first contact on occasion because they know how insecure I am about potentially bothering them and their busy lives.

I want to be a good friend to people, but I know that I am losing some because of my current situation. It hurts deeply to know that I am failing at something I used to be so good at, and something that has always been so important to me. I have made my life about serving and loving people deeply, and now my ability to show them that love has been put on hold, and it has left me in tears.

If you feel like I have abandoned you or that I am neglecting my duties as a friend I am so very sorry. Please believe that I still care about you deeply, and that I mourn the loss of my ability to show you that love.

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How Do We Find Balance

As a stay at home mom I have been struggling more and more with the desire to find balance in my life. It seems that my job never ends, and therefore finding time for things that I want to do as opposed to the things I need to do seems impossible. I am constantly changing diapers, washing bottles, washing laundry, cleaning house, and so much more. I run errands on the weekends because time during the week is limited due to my daughter’s health condition. The concept of time for myself or even time for others outside my home is only a faint, and distant, memory.

I have two children, a two and a half year old boy, and a 6, almost 7, month old girl. My daughter was born with severe reflux. Because of this condition, she has struggled with weight gain and therefore we still feed her every third hour as she doesn’t drink enough or keep it down long enough for the doctors to feel comfortable. I love being able to watch my children grow, learn new things, and develop new skills. They change so quickly and grow up too fast. That being said, because of their ages and special needs, it is often difficult for me to be able to go out and do things with them during the days. They both have fairly strict schedules that when not adhered to can tend to cause mass chaos in my house by mid-afternoon.

It is a lonely life when your world is dictated by the schedules of two tiny people. The fact that even church is restricted to Sunday morning service and only a portion of Sunday School (if we can get our act together to get there in time) wears on my soul. I feel a deep desire to be more connected, to be more involved, and to serve more within the church, but a 30-45 minute commute and late evening activities make it difficult to fit anything in with my children’s strict schedules. It breaks my heart to know that I should be doing more, but can’t come up with a decent solution as to how to integrate it into my scheduled life.

To make matters worse, my husband and I are opening our own business. We have finally obtained all our proper paperwork and are finally legal. We are opened for business, but we are by appointment only as our time schedules are a bit hectic still and the city does not allow home businesses to have standard hours of operation. With that in mind, our gunsmithing operation will be taking up some of our “free” time as well. This means even less time for errand running and connecting with people in the community and serving in the church.

How does one find balance in the midst of trying to make everyone else’s schedules work together? How can a stay at home mom find time that is truly her own, time that is not spent focusing on the needs of her children or husband while running errands? Is it even possible to have close friends when everyone else seems to be working during the times that don’t interfere with the family schedules?

I try to ask God for guidance, for peace, for people, for anything that will make me feel like a normal, real person again, but if it comes it is short lived. Soon I am back in my cave of small children, strict schedules, and minimal time with my husband. The cycle never seems to end. Maybe I should find it comforting that the cycle at least is the same. Maybe I should take solace in the predictability of my days. And, just maybe, I should find joy in the time I get to spend with my children, time that some others would give almost anything for. The joy is there, but the comfort and solace are not. I am striving to make peace with my current season in life, but for now the walls feel a little close.