‘I’ve always loved my friends – but in different seasons of parenting, I’ve placed different value on my friendships.’: Mom shares important lesson on friendship, ‘Don’t be scared to take the first step’

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“I’ve always loved my friends – but in different seasons of parenting, I’ve placed different value on my friendships.

When my kids were little, friends were a lifeline. We got together daily to keep our sanity and sense of humor. Since my husband didn’t get home until 8 p.m. every night, I begged to move into a neighborhood where I’d be surrounded by moms with kids the same age. It was one of the best decisions we made.

As our kids got older, and we entered the ‘sweet spot’ before adolescence, I put my friendships on the back burner. Harry and I stayed busy running carpools and hosting sleepovers, and we rarely went out because weekends were for nesting and catching up on sleep. My family fulfilled me, and I even went through a phase where I didn’t feel like I needed my friends.

Fast forward a few years, and my mindset changed. As my oldest daughter turned 16, the reality that she – and her sisters – would one day leave home hit me. I’d still be part of their lives, of course, but I didn’t want to be a needy mom who only felt happy when they came home. I needed friendships and sources of joy beyond my family, and doing this would make me a better mom.

Today, I consider friendship a form of self-care. I’m willing to be less productive each week by scheduling a few walks or coffees. In the past 18 months, I’ve needed my friends on a new level – first when my mom died, then when the pandemic hit, then with all the transitions of sending a child to college.

Some of my friendships date back to college; others are more recent. Just last week, I had coffee with a new friend who is a counselor, and we agreed one of the best gifts we can give our kids is modeling female friendships. Even saying, ‘I’m so excited I get to see Stacy today!’ tells them friendships should be a priority.

Over time I have realized 1) most people are less social than you think and 2) most people love to be invited. So, don’t be scared to initiate or take the first step. Don’t think your house must be perfect to have someone over. Most people just long for community and good company, and if you can offer that, then you will give our lonely world exactly what it needs.”

Two mom friends smile big for a photo in front a wall mural, both wearing black jackets and colorful scarves
Courtesy of Kari Kampakis

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kari Kampakis of Birmingham, AL. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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