Parents Need Friends Too

Sometimes I feel as though I have lucked my way into a really great situation when it comes to friends. I was reminded just this week of how many fantastic people surround me and support me. I gave a presentation on parenting at a local church and my phone buzzed with texts the day of and the day following the event sharing encouraging words, sweet prayers, and inquiring how the event had gone. I spent weeks preparing my talk, planning what to say and practicing my delivery, but on this particular occasion my biggest takeaway after all the effort is that I am so very fortunate, so very blessed, to have friends.


Parents need friends too. I didn’t always have much of an appreciation for this, but in recent years I feel as though my understanding of the significance of adult friendships has deepened. At times I have lamented the fact that I do not have friendships that span all the way back to my own childhood. I see people who have maintained childhood friendships into adulthood and I marvel at the connection there. Growing up together has the potential to create a lot of shared history during pivotal moments in life. I always thought that was a beautiful thing, but something reserved for other people. I never fell out with childhood friends, but ties have faded with time.


But now it occurs to me, as I reflect on my friendships from recent years, that the same intensity shared during childhood friendships can characterize certain adult friendships too. I mean, some of the most intense, unpredictable, life-altering moments in my life have taken place since my kids were born. As they grow, I grow. I’m not living my own childhood again, but I am living through theirs, and with that comes opportunity for massive growth, surprising discovery, and unpredictable adventure. The friendships I have forged with other parents as we weather the journey of parenthood together have grown from a time of intensity that certainly parallels if not surpasses that of my own growing up years. And while not enough time has passed to determine which friendships will last a short season and which ones will span from now through the rest of time, I do know that we share a special bond that cannot be replaced.


With my childhood friends I shared a lot of firsts. First days at school, first lost teeth, first crushes, first experiences away from home. But firsts don’t stop in childhood. With my adult friends I share just as many firsts: watching our babies’ first steps, first time we had to (gulp) hire a babysitter, first time getting our feelings hurt by our kids, first time experiencing unfathomable pride at the achievements of another, first time realizing that one day our kids won’t live under our wings forever. Those are the kind of firsts that I grew through in my own childhood, but didn’t fully appreciate until I became a parent and got to witness them in my children. And the friends who have witnessed them alongside me, or been on the other end of the line when I had to call and gush or I had to call and cry, those are friends who have walked with me through some of the most significant moments of my life. 


I so often neglect them. I so often underestimate my need of them. But the truth is I couldn’t do this thing called parenting without them. I would just be too darn weak. I don’t see my friends every day the way I did when I was a kid. I don’t jump rope with them at recess or swing on the monkey bars or play kickball or pass notes in class. But the texts and phone calls, the coffee dates and sunny day walks and the rare surprise knocks on my front door—those bring life to me just the same as good friends always have. I may be a little older now, those childhood experiences a thing of the past and my own kids' childhoods whipping by at warp speed. But friendships forged in moments of significance remain.


Life can just never be too busy for friends.