Changes and making friends

This post will probably be all over the place but I wanted to sort out my thoughts and feelings by way of a blog post. I have a love/hate relationship with change. Big, sudden changes that I am not anticipating tends to rattle me in a negative way but I do enjoy change. I think that even small changes can have positive effects on us. Every now and then an article will pop up about the benefits of making big changes in your life. Moving to a new city or even country is touted as an important part of our journey of self-discovery. Many people feel this is so and use their own experiences as anecdotes of this. While I do agree that having lived in Botswana was a very positive, and privileged time in my life I don’t think that it’s for everybody. Obviously, at the time I was a child and did not have a say in the matter but regardless of how difficult the transition was for our family I cannot deny that the move afforded me many opportunities I probably would not have had otherwise. For one I became fluent in English. I also took five years of French. I also got to experience different cultures and had many friendships with kids from around the world. I learned all about the bush, went camping, had the pleasure of diarrhea while camping (while in the middle of a Kalahari thunderstorm) and got to visit beautiful places around Africa. Those experiences made me who I am today. Traveling opens our eyes and our minds. I firmly believe everybody should do more of it but I also realize that it’s easier said than done. For one thing traveling costs money and lack of money is prohibitive for many.

For me, change can be very exciting and even small changes can have big effects in our lives. I recently sold our guest bed and desk in order to turn Diego’s room into a toddler room. It has been very exciting to see the transformation and the fact that our living room no longer resembles a disaster zone is an added bonus. When there is clutter and mess around me I feel frazzled. Sometimes I can’t tell this is so until I tidy up and a sense of calm washes over me.

This month I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo (I have written 16,698 words so far!). This is also a change. I added something to my plate which will challenge me. It has challenged me to change my routine and it has also challenged my writing and my creative mind. I am not writing this novel because I have any hopes to ever publish it, nor do I fancy myself a great author but it’s something different and an exercise in starting something and finishing it. Meeting my daily writing goal fills me with an immense sense of accomplishment. In fact, this sense of productivity is what prompted me to finally convert Diego’s room. I am getting things done, why not do this, too?

Changes  can tie into each other. Changing around some furniture might make you see the space in a whole new way and that will prompt you into something else. My point is, that even small, seemingly unimportant changes can have a big impact in our lives.

One of the biggest changes of the past two years was having my son. The impact of my pregnancy was huge. I stopped working and became a stay at home person. I look at motherhood as an addition to a house. It’s still the same house but with something extra. This ties into another thing I’ve been thinking about and that is friendships  between child-free women and moms. I was perhaps a bit naive to think that having a child should not make me an undesirable friend but it turns out that for some people it does. The complaint is that parents do nothing but talk about kid things with other parents. I have many friends who don’t have children and I don’t feel like our friendship has suffered but maybe I am wrong. Do they perhaps see me differently? I don’t feel like my identity is wrapped up in the fact that I am a wife and mother. I’m still me. I still have other interests besides my son. I love him dearly but I don’t need to monopolize conversations with tales about him. That’s just not who I am.

For me, being a mom felt lonely in the beginning. I hadn’t realized how most of my socialization came with working. That’s where I met my friends. We had lunch together daily and even hung out on weekends. Now some of those friends have moved to other states and others I simply lost contact with. I remember trying to engage with a few but I quickly learned that out of sight out of mind was true. We didn’t see each other everyday and maybe they assumed since I had a baby I had ceased to exist. Most of my friends are now living inside my phone. In my messaging apps and contact list. I don’t get to see them in person often. I haven’t joined a mommy and me group (I fear I won’t fit in since I’m not an overachieving mommy) and Diego is not yet in preschool. I also dislike the idea that all women with children should be lumped together. I don’t need playdates for myself.

I have made a lot of friends online, which I never thought was possible. These aren’t just people I occasionally shoot the breeze with, these are wonderful women who share their lives with me. We exchange packages and even meet each other in person. Some of them have kids and some don’t. It’s not something that ever makes the slightest bit of difference to me.

People change all the time. It’s part of life. Some of these changes cause us to drift apart but that’s not necessarily the case. I remember when my friends started to have babies and I recall feeling very much left behind. Even though at the time I was not sure that I wanted to have a child the fact that my peers had taken the plunge made me scrutinize my own choices.  I quickly learned that there was nothing wrong with my life. I was traveling my own journey. Being genuinely happy for our friends is wonderful. Leaving doubt, and self-judgment behind is liberating.

To me, change and friendships have an obvious connection which is why I decided to write about it. Changes in my life have brought new, amazing people into my life. I did lose some along the way but the people that truly matter to me have all stuck around. I still keep in touch with a few high school friends. Perhaps not as often as we’d like but we reach out to each other from time to time and it always feels like it always did. Those friendships are special to me.

Back on the topic of inciting change in our lives, travel and a move are obvious big ticket items but how about reading? Reading allows us to travel for free. Most libraries have e-books now which means you don’t even have to leave your house in order to borrow a book. My goal this year has been to read more diversely. I had been reading a lot of fanfiction and a lot of romance and I was itching for something more. I will pretty much read anything but I had fallen in a rut reading the same stories written by the same people. By becoming more aware of what I was reading I have been able to discover new voices and perspectives.

I have also tried out a lot of new foods this year. New recipes that have expanded my skills in the kitchen and challenged my abilities. These changes did not take me far from home but they took me far in other ways.

My take aways from this venting session: it’s difficult to make friends as adults. I believe that having or not having children shouldn’t affect a friendship, unless it does… Change is necessary, big and small changes matter.

How about you? How do you feel about change?

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