Timeline of Grace

Journey through the Seasons

Category: Friendship

Goodbye Again!

today I said goodbye to a friend.

I had to finally do it. She is actually physically leaving tomorrow and I had really been putting it off up until this point. It was one of those goodbye’s I had really not been wanting to face. In fact the reality that it was happening had not even begun to sink in until recently. I would quickly brush by her in the corridor after dropping Iona off for nursery and say hi and a “talk to you more later soon” type thing…and then suddenly realize halfway back to my car that actually…she’s leaving..and I really should be taking every opportunity I have to be with her, but i suppose doing that would mean that it was actually going to happen. It would mean acknowledging the reality, instead of remaining blissfully in denial.

So yet again, I felt a colossal lump in my throat….as she hugged me today I felt a familiar inner fight to stay composed and not let the gush of tears flood out. For saying goodbye to friends is something that never ever becomes easier. With every goodbye, I feel the weight of so many goodbyes I have had to say over my lifetime. I feel it so keenly. It is something that cuts me deep inside. Yet…in the pain, there is this amazingly rich feeling…for to have experienced the friendship…has been such a valuable experience.

When you have had a friend who has been there for you…who you have been able to be honest with…who has appreciated you for who you are, and who you have truly enjoyed spending time with, laughing with, and crying with…you feel as though you are losing a huge part of yourself when they go. I think part of the pain is this feeling that….this friendship is being cut off prematurely…and that it won’t get to continue…and that we will miss out of each other’s lives from now on. Sure we may keep in touch…but what has been up until this point, is ending….and there is a fear that the present reality of our friendship will simply fade into a memory.

I remember my summer mission trips. How at the beginning we didn’t know anyone, but by the end of the summer we all felt like the greatest friends that ever were, or could ever be….we felt a bond so strong, and our goodbye’s were incredibly sad and dramatic (we were teenagers) As I sit here the memories of several goodbye’s are flooding into my mind. I remember how I felt each time….and how sad I was…and I remember the friendship, and what it meant to me at the time. Even though I have had to say goodbye so many times….I would not be who i am today without the friendships that provoked those painful partings.

Some people I have kept in close contact with. Others not. Some friendships were for a season, others friendship could be picked up after years of silence and continued on without missing a beat. Over the years, the circumstances in which friends are made have changed significantly. I know I have changed a lot…the kinds of people I mix with have continued to vary over the years…yet..what hasn’t changed is the feeling I have when they leave, or I leave. That sadness..if anything, it has just become deeper…It’s like a wound that is being reinforced. I suppose it feels like that because so many of my favourite friends have been people i have had to leave, or who have left me.

There is this part of me that just wants to know that I have a few close friends around that will be there for the next 30 years of my life. Friends that will be there day in and day out. Friends I will see nearly every day and hang out with at the weekends…friends who by default…are there. in the mundane, and in the crisis. Certain friends you have love a drama…and will come flying out of the woodwork if they sniff a crisis. They are what I call dramamongers….they are all high drama about things…but once your life gets boring again..they lose interest. Save the drama…I want a friend who will listen to me even if the most interesting thing I have to tell is what I cooked for dinner last night.

So anyway, today I said goodbye to my dear friend Anna-Lisa. I will say that I am determined to make use of modern technology and continue being her friend. In the past I have been the one to mostly do the leaving. So having a friend leave me is sort of a new experience. My heart goes out to her as I can empathize with much of what she will experience in the coming months and I hope to remain a constant available contact, (even though I’m not in the flesh) for her to talk to and vent to anytime. I will enjoy hearing about the little things as well as the big things. I am hugely excited for her new life to unfold for her in China and I look forward to hearing about the new friends she is making. I’m sure she will make many because she is a wonderful unique person.

She has always been a good friend to me..even though in some ways….it’s only been recently that I’ve fully appreciated her. She was one of my first “mummy friends”  I watched her breastfeed her third daughter throughout my first pregnancy so she was a great role model in that regard….she normalized it for me. As my own daughter has grown, I have observed the way she is with her own daughters and I’ve been challenged and inspired. She was the first person I told in the Uk I was pregnant with Judah.  She has been a good solid all around every day friend, as well as an angel in a time of crisis. I’m very sad to see her go…but I will do my best to hold on tight….because friendships are so valuable…they make us who we are. I would write more about her…but it would make it seem like our friendship is ending…and I refuse to even go there.

Bring on the Skype!

empowering or insensitive enthusiasm?

It’s ten to ten…pm. I’ve just sat down with a decaf cappuccino (a nasty packet one which i know probably has bad things in it) some baby biscuits made with spelt and chamomile (no no i’m not weaning yet…they are for me and Iona!!) huge big sigh. It’s been one of those days. Only just got the baby down to sleep and I should probably go sleep myself but I need to unwind.

So the events of the day were a little crazy. I took Iona to school. I’m feeling a bit unsure at the moment about that one. She’s suddenly moved up out of the playroom into the proper nursery school area and although she loves it I’m suddenly all worried for her and nervous about it. I don’t want her to grow up too fast! Like she has her own Peg to hand her coat on!! Yikes! I then sorted out a place to cook the food for the Alpha course next week….at the church. The only way I am physically going to be able to cook for 30 people is to get everyone together to help me and help watch the kids and then bung it in the freezer until the day of.

Later in the morning I found myself in a bit of a crisis situation. As many of you know it’s my heart’s desire to help women who want to breastfeed. I am new in my journey and by no means a professional, and in some ways I feel very out of my depth as my personal experiences have been pretty straightforward. At the moment I find I am paranoid about people thinking I’m “pressuring” them. There seems to be a very fine line between helping someone and empowering them, and then other people seeing you as a pushy lactation officer. I’m frustrated at the lack of information there seems to be from midwives and health visitors in the early days of a woman’s experience. I am involved with a worldwide highly respected organization that takes great care  in being on the cutting edge of breastfeeding support and research yet, I at times it seems the advice I hear being being given and the things I have learned are contrary to each other.

So I tentatively tried to help my friend. I did not try and pass myself off as any expert or authority. I just tried to listen and encourage in a way that would be empowering. It can be very scary having breastfeeding problems in the early days. You doubt yourself, you fear for your baby, you think you should be able to do it and face feelings of failure when it just doesn’t seem to be coming together. What does a woman need to hear in this situation?  Perhaps different women need to hear different things. I don’t know. Perhaps more than anything the woman simply needs to be listened to and for her feelings and emotions to be affirmed. She needs the person to really know how she’s feeling. I think it’s only when we can really hear the mother’s heart, that we can assess how to help in a way that will empower her in whatever decision she makes.

It’s tough. It really is. I want to see women empowered…but at the same time how do you help someone feel empowered when all they’ve experienced up to this point is struggle and failure?  Me saying “you really can do this….” can perhaps be heard as “there is no reason why this should be hard for you” How do you help someone see beyond what is right in front of them? How can you encourage someone to see beyond their circumstances when they are full of fear and anxiety?

I’m sure I’ll come back to this subject over the next year as I consider my own role in helping my friends and fellow women….this is only the beginning of my thoughts on it…and I welcome everyone’s input.

at home parenting’s best kept secret

Yesterday was one of those great community days. Even though I live in the far reaches of Sandbach, I have friends that make the treck out here to visit me. It’s great as Iona loves having people over and someone to share all her dressing up clothes (thanks to her cousin in america) with.

I am learning that I can not tell Iona about things too far in advance or else she will expect them to happen instantly. When I told her that her friend Poppy was arriving first thing in the morning, she spent most of the morning sat by the window calling out “Poppy!!! Poppy!!!” explaining to me that if she called her, she would come. However nothing matched her excitment when Poppy did actually arrive. She couldn’t contain her excitement and squeeled and danced around. I love it. I love how she isn’t afraid to be unashamedly full of excitement. 

Another friend and her son joined us and the rest of the day was full of good conversation, squeeling toddlers, homeade quiche, french bread, yummy soup, and cups of tea.  It was one of those days you describe to your husband and he says “nice…..i had to work all day” But….it’s not that we were not working too…dishes were washed, kitchen cleaned, tables wiped down, noses wipes, conflicts dealt with, stories read, toddlers and babies nursed, however…as women…when we get together, and do it all together, it lightens the load and brings the full potential out of a situation.

Yesterday allowed me to get out on my own with Judah and get him weighed. I was simply curious to where he was up to and taking him and Iona would have been an ordeal, but just being able to nip in with him and nip out again was great. When I got back, my friends had done all the dishes and tidied my kitchen up!
I need more days like this as a mother. Sure it’s great to have quiet days at home…..but I think I prefere mothering within a community much more rewarding, not to mention easier! Staying at home and mothering does not need to be some sort of dark sentence to hard labour…we are allowed to share the burden and help each other out. I think sometimes that this is one of the best kept secrets of being a happy stay at home parent…the fact that we were never meant to cope day after day all on our own….we were meant to do with with other people alongside us.

Sometimes it’s something as simple as having somewhere to go for a cup of tea when the afternoon has just gotten a bit too long…other times it’s enjoying whole days together sharing meals and housework.

It’s not easy in some ways. It means we have to be vulnerable…allowing people to see the inside of our fridge, the dust on our shelves, and that random messy room where we stash our rubbish. Most of the time we are left with a colossol mess in our children’s bedrooms!! I think it’s worth it though. We have to transfer the mindside of being hostess with the mostess to simply a friend sharing our home.

I hope to grow in these kinds of relationships. I hope these kinds of day happen more often. I hope others can experience these days as well. It helps us to really enjoy our children at this stage and not just count down the days until they are in school full time.

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