Self-care for the next generation

A few weeks ago my friend’s daughter ran up to me in tears crying because she had fallen and her sister didn’t help her get up. I hugged her and told that it was OK and that people aren’t always going to help you get up. You have to pick yourself up sometimes. I wiped her tears and she ran back down to the playroom and it was all better. If only it were always that simple.

Here we are now and my own 5 yr old comes home upset because she tripped at camp and 3 of her friends ran right past her and didn’t help her up. I gave her the same speech I gave my friends daughter but my sassy queen wasn’t having it. She looked at me and said, “Well from now on, then when I see someone down I’m not helping them get up!”

I stopped and couldn’t even believe what I was hearing.

I got down to her level so she knew it was important (Pro-mom move) and I said “No we don’t do that. You will continue to help people who need help. Don’t ever give up helping others because you didn’t get helped.” She may have understood or  she may not have but she agreed and she skipped away.

I am still left bothered by both situations. Both girls thought someone needed to pick them up. But why? I didn’t raise my kid to think that she was entitled to people at her beckon call. Let me tell you, if you met my friend you would know she definitely didn’t raise her daughter that way either. Still, my question goes unanswered.

Why assume that someone has to help us up when we fall?

Now don’t get me wrong, if I see someone down I am the first one to offer a helping hand. I think anyone who sees someone down should help them back up, always. No matter the reason. But, if I fall I don’t ever expect for anyone to pick me up. Nor should you.

Life is full of so many messed up things and people. There will always be times when you will fall down; literally and figuratively. And when you are down, it’s OK to be down. Take your time getting up when you can. As long as you remember, that you don’t need anyone to get you up. It’s nice, of course, but you shouldn’t always depend on others to help you up – no matter the reason for the fall.

It’s almost as if people are keeping score of who did something nice and who didn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong, if somebody wrongs you, you have every right to stay away from that person. But we shouldn’t bring that into our other relationships, and human interactions. Being kind shouldn’t reflect on how many people have been kind to us. I don’t want my daughter, at 15 years old seeing some on the ground and walking right past them because she thinks, “Well that one time at summer camp my friends ran right past me.”

So many people give up on kindness to total strangers because of one (or several) bad experiences, fear of rejection or just plain laziness. And it’s not to say that everyone is deserving your kindness but we shouldn’t be so quick to give up on all of mankind. Your kindness is a reflection on you; not of how many times you’ve been neglected.

I want to raise my kids to be strong and independent and not need picked up by anyone.

I think most parents want that of their children. But I also want them to be kind and thoughtful. You can be a strong individual and still help other people. Maybe in their kindness, they can help others grown their own kindness.

Why I’m a bad friend

Over the weekend two of my very close friends texted me, one of which I haven’t spoken to in more then a year. I cried a little both times when the messages came through.

I missed them, and I didn’t even know it until that moment.

How focused on my life had I been that a mere hello text would leave me in tears over these two women? Talking to them both was so refreshing and made my heart so full. Clearly, I’m a bad friend and I don’t deserve them.

I have about four decently solid friendships that I have had for more than a few years. I don’t live near any of them anymore, and I think we are starting to, or have already, drifted apart. As is expected, when we grow up, we change. These friends were those I had when I was a still just a kid. They knew kid-Jen and don’t really know me as I am today. Because even as adults, we continue to grow and evolve. I don’t have the same interests I had even just four years ago. Nor do expect them to have their same interests.

And then, how do you keep a friendship when you are so far away? I can no longer run over to your house for a glass of wine and complain about life. I can vent on a chat or through texts, sure. I could even call and get at least their tones and inflections. But it isn’t the same kind of escape we used to have with each other.

Plus, I don’t want to push the blame elsewhere; I know that I’m lazy and I just don’t try hard enough. I fully understand that is the biggest reason we’re drifting (or have drifted) apart. Adult friendships take more work and I just haven’t put the work in for these relationships. And it’s genuinely sad to think about.

Because I miss them, everyday.

And I didn’t realize it until this weekend. It’s not an overt and obvious feeling. I don’t consciously think “I miss her!” But it’s still there ever day. It’s in the feeling of loneliness when I see besties on the street or the way I relate to the girlfriends on my TV. I hear something that will remind me of an old friend and not consciously remember why it brings a smile to my face, but I know that it does. I’ll hear a song that reminds me of her and it will lift my spirits. But I don’t call. And I don’t text. I don’t even always know who’s memory it was that made me smile.

I don’t mean to be a bad friend but I can recognize that I probably am. I never know if I’m doing too much or not enough. I have always been the friend who’s broke. So when everyone is planning trips I had to either borrow money or op out of going. I’m inconsistent; I will talk to you every day for a month and then forget to reply to your text messages for the next month. I make plans and last minute I decide I just don’t want to go.

Of course it doesn’t help that I have a partner who is an introvert and he doesn’t understand my need or want for solid friendships. So I feel bad when I ditch him to hang out, anyways. (Not that it’s his fault that I’m a bad friend.)

Then something happens and it hits me like a ton of bricks falling on my heart. I haven’t called, texted or responded to messages from someone I care about. I say to myself, “Make sure to call after this shower!” But I don’t remember and another day passes and I forget once again. Then a day turns into a week and then a month and then I’m just too embarrassed to face how long I’ve forgotten. Then that awkward feeling that maybe I shouldn’t even try at all anymore takes over because I’ve ruined a good thing by losing touch.

I want my friends back!

I want to have solid relationships with people who love me. I want those moments that I had in the past again. I know that I have to make and effort to mend the time we’ve had apart. Yes, we’ve changed and I know that we live apart, now. But all those excuses I’ve made for being a bad friend have to turn into reasons why I should try even harder to be a good one.

So here is to me trying harder to call and text; trying harder to listen and pay more attention. I love you girls and I always will.