Livin’ La Vida…Amiga

Caryn: So a couple nights ago I did one of my favorite late-night things—running to the grocery store for a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. Lame, I realize, on the “favorite thing” scale, but since becoming a mom, this tiny escape totally recharges me and I love it. Mostly because I get to be in a store alone and because I think music is best heard loud, at night while alone in a car. Something I first realized at 16—like 10 minutes after getting my license.

But anyway, on the way back from my little outing, I had Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” cranked—and I mean cranked! Windows down, me singing, me dancing, me smiling….

Carla, you know why this song makes me smile. Not only is it one of the darned happiest, poppiest, shakiest songs ever, and not only did I have a married-woman crush on this gay man, but it brings back memories of one of my favorite times of life: the years spent editing magazines and laughing with you (I’m talking to Carla, here) and Lori and Dana and Cheryl and Ron and Mickey and a zillion more great people.

Specifically, the Ricky Martin memory is not of shaking it in those hallways (though it wouldn’t have been beyond us) but of the “Little Ricky” (a xeroxed paper cutout of the man) perched on my office bookshelf. Something that made me laugh then (and now) but also something that in a weird way symbolized these office friendships for me.

Alrighty. Here’s the point of this: What struck me about my happiness upon hearing this song was that the last time I heard it randomly—probably a couple years ago—I felt really SAD. I was in this weird, dark, lonely mommy place where I missed everything about my “old” life so much and felt like I none of the same great connections or friendships in my “new” life.

I wasn’t—as we say in Christian-ese—living in community.

And it sucked—not having regular people to laugh with, gripe with, connect with, be myself with. It was a really hard time of life. So hard, I couldn’t listen to a song that brought back what were once happy memories.

All this to say, it feels so good to be back. To have found and remade connections. To be able to smile at my old life because the new one is smile-worthy now too.

I totally thank God fro this. He heard my “I need friends” lonely prayers and answered them in big, crazy God ways: through Facebook, through new flesh-and-blood friends, and through the Mommy Revolution, baby! I no longer feel like a fish out of water—but realize I’m swimming among some awesome other fish.

Carla: Little Ricky makes me laugh out loud! Those were such golden days–a bunch of girls and a couple of willing-to-put-up-with-a-bunch-of-girls guys.

What’s ironic is that, for me, those were also intensely lonely years. I remember feeling like I had no connections with people, even people I truly loved and enjoyed–that would be Caryn, Kim, Lori, Marci, etc. Now I know that I was at the beginning of a journey that would take me through some incredibly difficult seasons of figuring out who I am and–as dumb as it sounds–finding myself.

But at the time, of course, I didn’t know that. I was still trying so hard to be perfect, to make sure everyone liked me. I had no idea who I was so I had no idea how to connect with anyone. You (Caryn) and I have talked about this, how sad it is that the friendship we had could have been even deeper if we had just known how to let down our guard and be ourselves.

But like you, I am in such a better place now. It took all kinds prayer and work and struggle and pain and therapy to get to this place, but it was so worth it. I finally have the kinds of friendships I always prayed for–the ones where we are honest and vulnerable and no one pretends to be anything other than who she is. It is seriously so much more life-giving than trying to act like we have our crap together. We might never fully revolutionize motherhood, but I think that the women who are gathering here–and hopefully in Minneapolis in October!–are finding that they aren’t the only ones to feel lonely or disconnected, that they aren’t the only ones who struggle to develop meaningful friendships, and that there are women out there who will value them for who they are, failures and uncertainties and flaws included.

Caryn: Speaking of old and new friends–and Carla mentioned “October”: We’re totally hoping you can join me and Carla in a couple of cool events we’ve got coming up: 1. a FREE webinar (details to be announced soon) and 2. a Mommy Revolution Mom Hall Meeting (and probably food and drinkie thing) at the Christianty21 Conference in Mpls, MN, in October. How cool would it be to see each other for reals?

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24 responses to this post.

  1. I just get so depressed when I don’t see any comments……… And I meant to write, Carla, that I think it’s weird that my least-lonely period of adult life corresponded with one of your loneliest. I’d never have guessed you were lonely. Good to remember as we interact with other moms….

    Reply

  2. Posted by Heather on May 18, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Caryn – don’t take it personally! I read and enjoyed the post, I just haven’t figured out a response worth posting…which is probably because after coming home from work, there was dinner and kids and the new dog and the hubby. I also find it interesting that you and Carla had the opposite experience internally at the same time at the same place with the same people.

    I have a friendship that I’m really struggling with right now. I can’t even verbalize it. All I know is that my heart aches when I think about how things are hard right now with my friend and I and I try not to beat myself up too much for being a crappy friend, but how much can I have on my plate at one time, and how do I balance my friends need for me with the needs that my family has for me at the same time?

    Work. Real friendships take it sometimes. They’re worth it, but man, it’s exhausting.

    Love you, girls! (and can’t wait to meet you in Mpls this fall, Caryn!)

    Reply

  3. well, i was going to comment last night after i read this, but all my responses would be too depressing. i have been going through a severe dry spell with community in general and close girlfriends specifically. my husband and i both just really want to move from our city and start over, because after 5 years of searching and not really finding anyone we “click” with, except a couple of people i can’t seem to figure out how to spend regular time with, it just feels lonely and sad. so when i read about how you both have come through it, that just made it feel worse. 🙂

    it was so easy to make friends when my husband was in ministry: people automatically wanted to get to know us because he was the pastor. and even though that *could* be a disadvantage, it mostly worked in my favor because i’m not that great at initiating friendships with people. now, though, without a church home (and BELIEVE ME, we’ve tried to find a church home) and with him working in a lifeless work environment (think the office minus anything funny), where no one has contact with one another, and with me being a stay at home working mom, it is almost impossible to meet friends.

    ok, see, this is why i didn’t comment… 🙂

    Reply

    • OMG, I so relate to you about wanting to move and start over in a nother city! I’ve said that about a dozen times in the last two weeks. After reading your first paragraph, I seriously had to check the name on your comment to see if I had written a comment and forgotten!

      Before being married I worked for a college ministry, and I had wonderful community in my colleagues. We met regularly to pray and study the Bible, all with the purpose of hearing God about how to reach the students we were ministering to. We had a common mission, a common group of people to minister to, and a commitment to each other’s spiritual growth. I also am not good at initiating friendship, and although we currently attend a church, we don’t feel relationally connected there. But I long to have that same kind of community–a group of people who enjoy being together, are committed to each other’s spiritual growth, and, ideally, have a common mission and common people to minister to. But it seems impossible.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Lori on May 19, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Hi girls! I love reading the blog —this entry really struck a cord with me. I read it yesterday, thought about it all last night, and even woke up this morning with thoughts still racing around my head. I have some really terrific friends. I also feel like every day of my life is a race to the end so this translates into no time for me and certainly no time to develop those relationships. Of all the women in my circle of friends, I am the only one who works full-time outside of the home. I’d by lying if I didn’t admit I’ve felt lonely many times because I’m not available during the day to get together or have playdates. I vividly remember something that happened a couple years ago when this loneliness became very real to me. I was trying to arrange a time to get together with a friend and she gave me a bunch of times during the week that would work for her and then said that her weekends were reserved for her family. At the time, I really took that comment personally. Our friendship suddenly felt very inconvenient. I guess in the end, it helps to know that we’re all just trying to do our best in our unbalanced worlds and that we’re all struggling to be true friends.

    P.S. Thanks for the memory of “Little Ricky” and the wonderful friendships built in the hallway.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Becky on May 19, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I’m about to start crying now… I miss my close girlfriends! (who now live a half a world away, literally)! But I’m so grateful for the small community of girlfriends I do have here. Just two nights ago we got together (finally, after talking about it for months) to share about how we’re doing in our lives and pray for each other. It was great. And there’s nothing like being in a foreign culture trying to speak a language you really don’t know to help you appreciate and want to go deep with people who are also experiencing that, even if you didn’t know them very well before. Seriously, if anyone is considering ever moving to another country for any reason whatsoever, I highly recommend bringing along some friends. As the mantra goes in my church: “Anything worth doing is better done with others”.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Kathy J on May 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I’m cracking up at your description of cranking music loudly in the car all by yourself late at night. I do this too!! Just the other night, I had to go pick up my teenage son from a school event…warm weather lets the sunroof open & turn up the tunes!!! yeah!

    Thanks for your totally thought provoking posts. I’m right there with ya.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Robyn on May 21, 2009 at 11:41 am

    1. I don’t have much time or energy to invest in friendships. Between a toddler, a full time job, and my marriage I expend most of my energy being good at those three things.

    2. I’m pretty introverted. I will not seek people out and strike up friendships.

    3. I don’t feel a deep need for friends above the few good ones I currently have, including my husband and my mother plus a handful of long-distance girlfriends.

    4. It takes a LOT of time and work to get past the superficial crap to the point where I start to trust someone and be willing to be deep and vulnerable.

    That said, there are times when I feel my soul longing for a deeper connection with the “Christian Community.” I feel like my relationships at church are tenuous as best. If I stopped attending, would anyone care? Would anyone ask why? We are so wrapped up in our individual lives, and church attendance is just another activity we do. It’s not grounded in the type of community I read about in the New Testament. That makes me sad. With absolutely no ideas regarding how to do it differently.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Robyn on May 21, 2009 at 11:48 am

    You have NO idea how much I wish I could come to Minnesota in October.

    Reply

  9. Robyn, Just do you know, it’s a Friday-Sunday event so you wouldn’t have to miss any school. I’m just sayin’.

    Reply

  10. just so you know. Ugh.

    Reply

  11. i have struggled over whether to comment here again concerning what robyn wrote, but i feel like i need to.

    for some reason, what robyn wrote really struck me the wrong way. maybe it’s because i have been trying to “break in” to existing friendships for the past 5 years and no one really lets me in all the way. maybe it’s because i have several friends who live near lots of family and don’t make time for anyone else. maybe it’s the emphatic nature of the way the comment was written (e.g., “i will not seek people out and strike up friendships”).

    it’s not in my nature to seek people out either, but i guess being so up front about how you are NOT going to make friends with anyone else because you already feel satisfied with the people in your life seems a little unfair.

    there are some really needy people out there, and i try to protect myself as much as i can from those types of friends and reach out to them on my own terms. but i’m the kind of friend who will give back, and in visiting churches i have found these cliques that remind me of high school, where it’s “well, we’re all full. closed to new friends. don’t need anyone else. we’re good.”

    what is an outsider to do?

    and robyn, i also think that it doesn’t HAVE to take lots of time to get through the artificial crap. i am a very up front and honest person by nature, so i have found that when i do meet someone who is willing to give me a chance, my openness is very disarming and usually helps cut through the crap pretty quickly. so maybe if you can get up the nerve, you can be vulnerable first and then it might take less time to make new friends because the other person will know she can trust you.

    anyway, i’m not trying to be critical–the response just struck me as harsh, especially since this is a very sensitive thing for me because i’ve been on the receiving end of that attitude multiple times in the last 5 years or so.

    Reply

  12. Kristi–I hear you. As someone who has wrestled with making friends and feeling left out, it does hurt that there are people out there who feel “full” of friends. But I’m guessing Robyn is trying to be honest in where she’s at right now.

    Sometimes we just don’t have the time or energy or whatever to invest in what it takes….. I’ve been there too!

    But I also agree that it doesn’t have to take long to get through the crap. I used to think it did–but now try to just throw out a good does of honesty–and it does wonders! Just yesterday I was talking to a random woman on the phone who tossed in a “universal secret” about her life–and then quickly said, “I can’t believe I just told you that! You must think I’m awful.” Of course, on the contrary!

    We ended up bonding big time. It’s all about vulnerability.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Robyn on May 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Kristi, I guess I don’t understand how I offended you. I don’t think I was harsh, to be honest. Blunt, maybe. I’m sorry you interpreted it that way. I’m just saying what I think/feel.

    To be honest, I feel rather attacked and judged by your response. So maybe we are in the same boat. When you say you have been on the receiving end of “that attitude” it feels like you are judging me and projecting some kind of bad attitude onto me when you don’t even know me.

    Everyone has a different “friendship capacity,” the number of people with whom they can maintain deep, meaningful relationships. Mine is not very high. I have a certain amount of emotional energy and I choose where to invest it. Sorry if that bothers you, but it’s who I am.

    I don’t feel the need, at this time, to go looking for friends. That doesn’t mean I am rude or unfriendly. It doesn’t mean I would turn someone away who sought me out to be my friend. On the contrary, if that were to happen, I would be THANKFUL that they made the so-called “first move.”

    What it does mean is that I’m not using my limited amount of free time attending Bunco nights and scrapbooking parties to try to make friends. I don’t think I have some *responsibility* to seek out people to make friendships, which is what you seem to be implying. I’ve never been the type of person who needed a lot of friends. A few people who know me very well and on whom I can rely is enough for me. There is no implication that I would turn someone away if they reached out to me. Just that I don’t feel like I have the time or energy right now, honestly, to invest in going out and finding friends. I don’t see how that is a *bad* thing. It simply is a fact.

    For the record, I’m not a part of any cliques. I know a total of maybe 10 people at church, and it’s not like we stand around excluding people. We barely even talk at church as our relationship is founded on our weekly small group bible study. Maybe that’s why I wish I had more “community” at church, and it really is my own fault for not reaching out. Probably.

    Also, where am I supposed to find these hypothetical people with whom to be friends? I’m just curious. Because, I suppose if I were motivated I could find them. Probably by attending those tedious scrapbooking parties. But, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for me to meet people. It’s not as if I am going out to bars or clubs or something, where I could just walk up and say “Hi, do you want to be my friend?”

    I’m just not motivated. I have no idea where in my life I would fit them.

    I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. I really don’t think I give off a “go away” vibe, if that’s what you are getting at. And, as I said, I am rather introverted and prefer to keep to myself. Sure, I suppose I could be more vulnerable to deepen relationships more quickly, but I’m tired of getting burned. Perhaps that will change over time, but, as Caryn said, this is where I am right now.

    CARLA: You are seriously tempting me. I’m going to start researching airfares.

    Reply

    • I think I know what you mean, Robyn. RIght now I am working part time and have a new baby, so I am not investing in friendships, although I long for them. But once I stop working (which I will be doing exactly one month from today and can’t wait!), I will have more time to reach out and “find friends”, but I don’t know if I will do it. I, also, feel like I’ve been burned. I feel like I am often the one taking all the initiative in my friendships. If I don’t call, or try to arrange a get-together, it seems like I would never see some of the people I consider to be close friends. That gets wearisome.

      But also, maybe I am being too greedy. I have a handful of friends I enjoy, and who I feel know me well. I don’t see them regularly, but they’re there.

      And (sorry for the stream-of-consciousness reply), I’ve been thinking lately that I worry much more about being known, than about getting to know someone else. I know there’s a saying that you should seek to understand more than to be understood. I personally feel like I need to focus on being a good friend than on having good friends. I complain about my lack of community, but what am I doing to love and serve the people I care about (beyond my family). Honestly, not much. But this gets back to Robyn’s concern about having only so much to give. How do I know when I’m being realistic about what I can give, rather than being fearful and holding back?

      Reply

  14. I think Robyn and Kristi are hitting on something important here–we all have different levels of need when it comes to friendships. Some people just need a few intimate friendships to feel connected, others need to belong to a community where they can connect with lots of different people in lots of different ways. Others, like me, feel best when I have a combination of the two–a few people I really trust to know me and love me and a sense of belonging to a larger community. And still others are somewhere on that continuum.

    This is where friendships get so tricky–one person’s need to connect butts up against another person’s need to limit commitments. I have a number of women in my life that I would love to get to know better–and we’ve even said that to each other–but years later, it’s just not happening. It’s not their fault, it’s not my fault. It’s just life. It makes me sad, but other than some huge re-organization of my life/their lives, I can’t figure out how to make it happen. I guess I keep hoping that in another season of life, this will be easier.

    I should mention, too, that most of the really wonderful friendships I’ve been a part of in the last few years have been with women who don’t have children. It makes me wonder if having a deep connection with other moms who are in the same stage of family life is just plain impossible. I know Caryn and I couldn’t pull off having the kind of friendship we have now if we were in the same town. The distance means we “talk” through e-mail and Facebook, which we can each do when we have time. There’s no coordinating, no planning, no having to work around family commitments. Oddly enough, the interwebs have made us better friends.

    Reply

  15. robyn, i can’t stand scrapbooking or any other kind of parties, and i don’t even know what bunco is.

    this is why i hesitated to comment, because i felt like your first statement was so strong and your response was even stronger.

    of course, i realize that we don’t know each other, and you have no obligation to ME, but i think what i read in your first comment is what i’ve felt from other people with whom i would like to try to build a friendship, only to be told, “i’m too busy for you. i have my family and my few close friends, so i’m all good.”

    and it REALLY stings to be told that, especially because i have lived in the same city for 5 years and feel like i keep getting told this over and over. or single friends will go out to a movie and not invite me because they think it’s too complicated (or they have busy schedules too and don’t even have time for movies!). moms (the few i know and would even want to hang out with) have crazy schedules, like carla mentioned, so it’s impossible to coordinate. then the married without kids friends are withdrawing because they want kids so they are starting to not want to be around us because we DO have kids. ugh.

    anyway, i’m sorry if i heard some of that in what you were saying. i have experienced deep friendships, deep community with people, of varying degrees (like you mentioned carla), and i love having that variety in my life. what i really long for is even just one friend in the city where i live that i can spend lots of time with, be real with, and not eventually be abandoned by. and when i read your list of reasons why you don’t need extra people in your life (that’s the way i read it because of course i personalized it, we all do that), it just struck a chord with me related to these issues i’m dealing with connected to people in my life who seem to be saying the same thing.

    and the most frustrating thing is i probably sound like some needy person who everyone would run from! but i’m not–i love to have parties, everyone loves me, but when i don’t schedule the party, ask someone to go out, whatever, it gets really lonely really fast.

    oh, and i don’t even have a church to draw on for friends…tried that, many many times. our city is just seriously dry in the church department. which is crazy because it is not a small city! it must just be a florida thing…

    i apologize if i hurt your feelings. i do feel like you came back at me with fighting gloves, so maybe we could both leave the gloves in the box?

    Reply

  16. Posted by Robyn on May 21, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I think, as you said, you personalized what I said, which had everything to do with ME and NOTHING to do with you. I understand that you were reacting out of your own situation. Please understand that I am only speaking about MY own situation. I have a “strong” personality and I rarely equivocate. I understand that some people find that intimidating, and I am sorry if I offended you. Again.

    I’m sorry for what you are going through. You don’t sound needy to me; You sound lonely. Everyone needs friends. Everyone needs relationships and intimacy. I can imagine that it must be very tough to feel alone and left out.

    Carla pretty much hit the nail on the head. Which is why my major form of communication with my friends is also electronic. I most eloquently express myself through writing, so I majorly heart email.

    I anticipate that, as I get older and my child (hopefully someday childREN) get older, both my need and availability for friendships will change, as I will have more “free” time to invest in friendships. Maybe I am wrong on that, and a mom with older children will quickly disabuse me of that notion? LOL.

    Reply

  17. actually, i think you will have more time for friendships as your child/ren get older. i have an almost-2-year-old, but my older 2 are 6 & 7, and just the last couple of years i have found myself wanting to make more and time to spend with people. i think i used to be more withdrawn, because you know, little ones are so needy…and it’s exhausting!

    but i also think i didn’t feel as much need for seeking out those relationships because before we moved to tampa my husband was a pastor so i got my strokes from the community. then after he stopped being a pastor i didn’t know where to get that warm fuzzy feeling…

    and if i didn’t have email/FB/twitter with my girlfriends all across the U.S. (and 1 in the DR!), i would seriously be in a mental institution. so i’m way grateful for the e-form of communication!

    Reply

  18. I’ve totally said this before and I’ll say it again: When I prayed for friends, God sent me Facebook. Seriously. I too would have lost my mind were it not for virtual connections with people.

    Carla’s right about the mom friendship thing too. It’s so hard. For 1. relationships become too kid-centric and 2. it’s too hard to connect with kids to chase or whatever.

    I think the key is knowing what we can handle and sort of understanding the expectations of friendship. Like me and Carla: I agree that being apart makes us better friends because we have very low expectations. An occasional email. Maybe Carla could go ahead and START A POST every now and again, but other than that, we’re good.

    My point….? I’m always up for new friends, but I have so little time and energy to give. So people have to have a lot of grace with me. I don’t have much to give. I won’t remember your kids’ b-day. I probably will never go shopping with you. Though I’m starting to make time for more coffee and lunches—which me likey.

    Reply

  19. Kristi and Robyn, thank you for modeling what I think is so beautiful about the Revolution. You dealt with a potential conflict with grace, compassion, understanding, humility, and a willingness to see the other person’s point. I adore you both for your honesty and vulnerability. Such wonderful women!!!!

    As for you Caryn, I have lots of great posts started in my mind. We have come to the end of preschool which means I have come to the end of my work time. I realize this is hard for you to understand, but some of us pay attention to our children during the day.

    Perhaps I will make some magic later today.

    Reply

  20. Robyn and Kristi did model something beautiful! I love when we see this happen. It’s awesome because often women don’t confront things that bother them and this was a perfect, healthy way of doing that.

    You can tell that Carla and I have a less healthy model of jabs and passive aggression. Let’s just be thankful Mickey isn’t involved. Then things would get really ugly.

    This revolution is so darned fun.

    Reply

    • Posted by Robyn on May 22, 2009 at 10:19 am

      You two crack me up. Maybe as Kristi and I get to know each other better we can advance to the level of passive agressive jabs. LOL!

      Reply

  21. I find it interesting, Caryn, that you (and maybe others?) mentioned how good it has been to connect electronically with people. I am on FB and twitter, and I’m checking in here, and I’ve been a part of other online discussions. But I have a hard time feeling connected to people I can’t be together with in person. I’ve left comments on this blog before, but I’ve kind of thought of it as just posting my thoughts to the air–it’s hard to really get that real people are out there reading this. Although I do enjoy writing sometimes, I would much rather sit and talk with someone over coffee. Besides feeling more personal, it feels more efficient or something.

    I’ve been using FB and blogs to stay connected with some people who live far away, but phone calls are where the real connection happens with those people. I love to see pictures and get a glimpse into people’s every day life, but I need more of a real interaction to feel connected.

    But, maybe that will change if I keep keeping up with Mommy Revolution posts and take time to comment!

    Reply

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