Making Friends as a SAHM

Posted by  | Tuesday, July 20, 2010  at 8:00 AM  
The comic strip I shared at the beginning of the week ended by saying "You have time to make friends." Do you feel like this is true for you?

I would say that I have 3 very good local friends. I say 'local' because I would count a handful of others as 'good friends', but I don't live in the same state/country as them and keep in touch by e-mail.

[This is me in the hospital with Erica, Keyna, our moms group leader Ellen, and Amy]

All three of my good friends (Erica, Keyna & Amy) are from my church and mothers of small children. I met all three of them when I started attending a moms group at their church (we were going somewhere else at the time). The moms group would meet every other Tuesday morning. But then one of the moms had the idea to get together at the church gym with our kids on the off-Tuesdays (the kids rode their bikes around the gym and the moms could chat). I got to know these women and other moms in the group over the course of 6 months or so. When our family moved to our new house, the commute to our church got to be too long and we decided to start attending the same church where I was attending the moms group.

I became good friends with these three women because I spent a lot of time with them. I really think that is the key to making friends when you are a SAHM. I know one of you mentioned to me that when you worked your co-workers were your friends. You got to see them every day and you became friends. Think about how much time you spent with those people - probably about 40 hours a week! Do you have someone now that you spend even a fraction of that time with? You'd never get anything done around the house! :) BUT, I think it's very important to spend that quantity time with others to build a friendship. Think about the friends you made when you were growing up. You spent 8 hours a day with them at school and then hung out after school and on the weekends. You became good friends because you spent a lot of time together.

Here's how much time I probably spend with my friend Erica in one week:
Sunday - 3 hours at church (service, coffee time, Sunday School class)
Tuesday - 3 hours (moms group or play time and lunch)
Another weekday - 3 hours (get together at her house or mine)
Now, that's not 40 hours, but it is something like 9.

Consider how often I see my friend Keyna: Sunday for church and date night, Tuesday for moms group, Wednesday for AWANA, Thursday for Bible Study Fellowship, and sometimes again on the weekend. We see each other A LOT, even if it's for short little conversations here or there.

Amy is a working mom (she works MWF), so I don't get to see her as much during the week. But we still make it work. We see each other on Sundays and Tuesdays and Wednesday nights and sometimes our families will do stuff together on the weekends.

Here are the things that I think have helped me become good friends with these women:
1. Time. Not just quantity, like I mentioned above, but making it a priority to spend time with them.
2. Similar aged children. Keyna's kids and Amy's kids are the same age as mine. Erica's youngest is a little younger than Samuel and then her other two are 5 and 6.
3. Giving it time to happen. I met these women 1.5 years ago. It's probably just in the past 6 months that I could say they were good friends.
4. Planning things to do together. We are always coming up with places to go together. It's fun to have a buddy to go on an adventure with and the kids love getting out of the house with friends.

Leah F. commented earlier that it seems like just as you're getting close to someone, something happens, including them moving away. I can relate to this. We spent 3 years in Wake Forest, and then 6 months in San Francisco, and then moved here to Chicago. But even then we moved churches a few times as we moved houses. I was lucky to make friends in Wake Forest who were either new like us and therefore going to be around awhile or others who were planted in the Wake Forest area. (BTW, did you all know that that's how most of us POH authors know each other? We were friends while in Wake Forest and have since dispersed around the globe) Now that we're here in Chicago, I feel like the friends I've made probably won't be moving anytime soon, or us either. I think living in a transient community can be a real hinderance to building quality friendships, but it's still possible.

I want to end by saying that having good friends is a real blessing to me and helps me to enjoy my job as a SAHM. I like the give and take of a close friendship. I really love and respect the women God has put in my life. Having close friends is especially important to me because I don't live near family. I don't have my mom to hang out with or to watch my kids for me when I need a break. These friends provide a little bit of that for me, and I can provide it for them.

What about you? Do you feel like you have a good friend? Are you investing the time needed to cultivate that relationship? Do you think it's worth it?


Christy said...

Great post, Leah. I'm with you, the opportunity to build friendships with women in a similar stage of life is definitely one of the perks of being a SAHM.

I'd like to share something in hopes of encouraging others.
My husband and I live near a Marine Corps base. Even in our church, which is VERY small, the opportunities to build friendships are endless.

There's only one problem: Marine Corps families move every three years. As someone who has no plans to move you quickly do the math and realize that nearly every friend you make will be leaving soon.

Honestly it's really, REALLY hard! In the four years that we have lived here we've had many tearful goodbyes as sweet brothers and sisters in the faith are moved to the other side of the country.

After that happens once there is a real temptation to withdraw. My sinful tendency is to want to feel sorry for myself and avoid investing in friendships where the same thing will happen again. But the Lord has been so kind to show me how selfish this attitude is.

First of all, what about those women? Sadly, I know there are churches in the area who have a reputation for sort of closing themselves off to military families. There are sort of two clicks: locals and military. Imagine how hard it is to BE the people who are moving every three years. They have no consistency. They are forced to make a fresh start every time. It is so selfish to avoid loving them because of the hurt I will eventually feel. Secondly, I have learned that even knowing that the friends will move there are immense benefits now to investing in relationships with them now. I have had the opportunity to meet so many women who are running this race with such fervor that is it an absolute joy to tag along. Their friendships have been a real blessing to me. If I had avoided investing in those relationships I would have seriously missed out. And lastly the Lord has been so kind to continue to bring great new friends our way time and time again. I continually find myself thinking that I’ll never have another friend like “So and So.” While it’s true that no two people are alike I haven’t found any lack of fellowship just because that one good friend moved away.

Our pastor has encouraged us to “hug the train.” You know it’s going to leave the station sooner or later but you just love it while it’s there. It’s great advice if you find yourself in an area where lots of trains come and go.

Jackie said...

It's interesting to think about the different types of places we live and how that factors into making friends. I'm a pastor's wife in a small southern town whose own family is a plane ride away. Not many people move in or out of our town so the people stay the same. The problem I face is that everyone is related to each other. Most of the moms my age have their extended family living next door. This makes me feel like I'm on the outside and they have no need for me in their life. Feeling this way has probably caused me to miss out on getting to know them better. Thanks for posting on this topic because its certainly motivating me to be more proactive in getting together with other moms.

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