Being part of a large & I mean large (my mom has 8 brothers and sisters) family, then marrying into a larger family, I never knew the true importance of friends. Actually, I should be clearer. At 20 something years old, I never really had that core group of friends, who would go out with and shop, gossip, get drunk with, then together nurse a hangover, be bridesmaids to, make Facebook albums for, etc.
I've always had my husband, brother, my cousins, mom, and my best friend, who's more like a sister, so having that group of friends was never a necessity for me.
Kind of sad to think about, but mostly because its true. I just never had many friends. I never thought I needed them. I saw the people I love hurt by them, so why bother with them? I had my fair share of family drama too, so why let anyone else in?
Maybe I was socially awkward because I didn't live that story book life of growing up with the same neighborhood kids, who would go to elementary, then middle, then high school together.
Or maybe it's because I didn't have the greatest experience at the all girls Catholic high school I attended.
Or it could be because I took for granted the friends I made through my college & sorority years.
Whatever the reason, I saw people who weren't family just acquaintances, colleagues, peers.
When I met Rafael, I began to understand the beauty of a lasting friendship. Although we immediately started dating when we met & skipped the friendship phase, through the courtship, I was able to understand how a friendship could evolve into a lasting relationship- a marriage.
When my Dad passed away a few years ago, I was overwhelmed by the amount of support we received and still receive from people not in my family. People whom I thought had long forgotten about us. People who have hurt us. People whom I hurt too.
When I had Michael, I immediately was impacted by friendship. Friends who began sharing with me with their experience with kids. Friends who stayed in the waiting room the entire time I was in labor (12 hours.) Friends who want to share their time with us, even with a screaming baby at the table during lunch. Or just watching a sports game at our house because they know how
True friends who cared for him not because they had to, but because they wanted to.
And most don't even have children of their own.
Even through this blog, I have made friends. Strangers turned friends whom I e-mail back and forth with for support, advice, a quick laugh at our child's perfect imperfections.
Call it superficial, but this past holiday season, I was overwhelmed by the amount of gifts Michael received. Happily overwhelmed. But not for the reason you may think. The time our friends took to deliver them, the way they were attentive to Michael, purchased him the perfect gift and most importantly, the lessons they are teaching Michael by doing so: thoughtfulness, gratitiude, generosity. That is true friendship.
Maybe thse people have always been around. Maybe I'm just realizing now how much they mean to me now. Either way, I'm so thankful I'm learning this valuable life lesson.