One Sunday afternoon at the tail end of this past fall, I made my way to the front door for a walk around the neighborhood when the first layer of a foul mood began stretching itself into my bones. It was just one of those days with funk written all over it. Somebody switched mass times at a church across town and I was not so thrilled by it. Paul and I were doing our usual routine of weekend arguing over projects, much planning and not enough doing. Kids everywhere I stepped...and what was that all about??! I was exhausted by frowning at everybody (It's so much work to be unhappy!), so I grounded myself by un-grounding myself and with the babies strapped in and ready to ride down the sunset, I went strutting my bad self to the lake and back.
Turns out this was smart because when I returned I was all smiley again. Mid-way through my walk a figure in the distance flagged me down and I about died of happiness when I found it was my friend Donna (and her boyfriend whom I had not yet met) also taking a walk in my neighborhood (even though she doesn't live here or even in this town). I don't know how she felt when I interrupted her (romantic?) stroll, but I was elated for something, no, someone to get my mind off ME!
Donna and I taught together for five years. We've danced together, gushed together, and even though I can't remember it, probably argued over stuff too. Short of crying on each other's shoulders, Donna and I have shared a lot of yucky stuff with each other. She's heard my secrets, and I've known, despite how tough & independent she is, when her heart has hurt.
Donna and I aren't friends because we're just like each other. Far from it. She's the 'go' for my 'stop', the 'seize life' for my 'wait, wait, wait'. We aren't drawn to each other due to similarities, even though that's where we might have started. Our histories. Our marriages. Our religious beliefs. Our music preferences. The differences there have seemed to serve as bridges for us to travel together, across and back, rather than oceans to wave across from our shores.
If friends came with warnings stickers, Donna's might say:
I'm here to stay,
so hate me or love me..
You're getting all of me!
This "all in" kind of authenticity is what I love most about Donna. She is teased about her taking life by storm personality, but where others see a chance for a wisecrack, I've always seen a loud vulnerability, a willing heart, a leap of faith to live large no matter what.
In the age of filtered photos and Facebook statuses wiped clean of ugliness (because who needs a permanent record of that?), it's refreshing to just simply be with friends. I think back on so many times a friend's authenticity, their willingness to be real and get real meant more to me than maybe they realized...
Natahle who after seeing me embarrassed for my sink full of dishes during her visit, thought to send me a photo of her remodel mess atop her table and I smiled at the photo as it popped up on my phone...
To my sister-in-law, Jessica, who sends me encouraging texts about the real stuff that goes down in her home--maybe cracked eggs or crying babies but always, always, a relieved-to-know me on the other side...
To my sister, Andrea, and that one time she cried in my car and we paused our usual go around of fun and silly and I remembered that we all carry with us little parts of broken in our hearts...
To Katie and Allison for welcoming me in for a girls' night recently so we could argue the what's what on spanking kids but see face-to-face that we're all wanting to be with our whole, whole selves to be good, kind, conscientious mothers and that it means reaching out to each other and laughing over our efforts too...
To three mothers this year who spoke with pure vulnerability and candid openness to me, a story all their own to hide or lay bare, about how rough bringing in a new baby really was...
Oh my gosh....and a hundred other moments of friends (and sisters because I'm big blessed there!) simply being themselves and without knowing it--blessing me immensely. I was a little less frightened by my own heartache, less embarrassed by my own shortcomings, less disheartened about my own parenting woes, less mindful of all the things I would love to do and all the things I would love to be if I could be perfect --cause I'm not and we're not and that's okay.
So to you, whoever you are, stay open. Find safe places to share your heart--and keep doing it. Take a note from Donna's book and forge loud in love!
You, just simply being you, is more a gift than you know!
Somewhere is someone returning to her home and a smile on her face (or a smidegon less sadness to carry)-- because you are simply you!
(Or 'his'...I don't want to exclude the 1% male population who visit here. ;)