I am an extrovert and I have a lot of friends. I’m not just talking about Facebook friends. I have a lot of friends in my own community whom I see face-to-face on a frequent basis. But something I am not very good at doing—and I know I need to work on it—is cultivating a few, very deep friendships with other women.
There are different levels of friendship. You can have meaningful relationships and not go deep with people. But the deep relationships are the ones that will hopefully transcend time and seasons of life.
I’d like to think the reason I’m not very good at cultivating those few, deep friendships is that I have a hard time deciding who to spend more time with because I like everyone! And, of course, I am with my kids constantly, and life is very busy, and it’s hard to have a lot of deep conversations with kids interrupting.
I know some women who are really good at always inviting friends to come along when they go to the park or visit the children’s museum. I tend to do those things with my kids at the last minute and, more often than not, neglect to invite people to come along. Sometimes it’s because I’m tired, or because I just want to focus on my own kids at the park, or because I just didn’t think about it soon enough.
There are a million reasons and excuses.
Here is my perspective as a second-generation homeschooler. My parents and my husband’s parents both homeschooled their children for 20-plus years each. When they finished homeschooling, they wondered where all the friends had gone. They had long periods of feeling lonely.
All friendships are based on things that the individuals have in common. It’s easy, when homeschooling, to base friendships on the fact that you mutually home-educate. But that might not be enough. Homeschooling doesn’t last forever. It’s just a season. When the homeschooling ends, will the friendships still be there?
At a homeschool group years ago, I noticed that all the moms tended to talk exclusively about the things we had immediately in common: kids and homeschool curriculum. One day, we were all standing around, and there was a pause in conversation. I said, “So, did anyone do anything fun over the weekend?” Several people looked a little disoriented at the shift in conversation. Finally, someone talked about her landscaping project. It was the first time I had really talked to someone in the group about something other than kids and curriculum. It was nice.
An older friend in my community named Patty, who has had the same group of girlfriends for over 30 years, told me what she thinks is the secret to longevity of friendship. “You have to get your girlfriends to go deeper; to go to the next level.” She and her friends had a walking-group where they talked mostly about superficial things. One day she invited them to a Bible study. This turned their surface friendships into something deeper.
I gave Patty’s advice some thought. I realized that I already have three wonderful friends in my neighborhood who do a semi-monthly Bible study with me in our home. My problem is the reverse of Patty’s problem. I already have “serious” conversation with these friends by studying the Bible. What I realized I needed in my life is a time to just talk about the mundane and trivial things that happen during the week. I needed some time with girlfriends that is “just for fun.”
So, I started my own walking-group about two months ago. There are four of us gals who walk from 6:00-6:45 a.m. every Tuesday. We talk about serious things, we talk about our kids, we talk about dumb stuff, we pray for each other, and we laugh a lot. It has been a highlight of my week ever since we started doing it. I think the other ladies in my walking-group feel the same.
I don’t know if the relationships in my newfound walking-group will turn out to be a 30-year friendships or not. All I can do right now is try.
What are you homeschool moms (and dads!) doing to cultivate friendships that transcend the homeschool years?
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; second image courtesy of Amy Koons.