I kept glancing at the clock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. I was exhausted, happy and growing impatient. Less than 24 hours earlier I had given birth to my first born, a son. Eager to show him off, we had invited our friends to the hospital, but also couldn’t wait to get some rest. We said goodbye to who we thought were our last visitors of the evening and settled in to get some sleep.
Until my husband’s phone rang. It was 8 p.m. and one of our single friends was finally on his way to the hospital. We chuckled a bit as this friend is perpetually late, but figured his visit would be short and sweet. Instead, the clock neared 10:30 p.m. and he still was with us chatting.
It was that night that I started to recognize things would have to change between my new family and our single friends if we wanted to keep those relationships intact. Late nights out on the town would turn into cocktail hours at our house, meeting up with girlfriends would revolve around nap time. And even then, our single friends probably weren’t really interested in hearing about poop stories or baby milestones.
But just because my husband and I are at a different place in our lives than our unmarried friends, we all benefit from these relationships. Marriage doesn’t give us an excuse to cut all ties with them. On the contrary, it is precisely these relationships that we need to nurture, maintain and seek out.
I can imagine it might be hard for them to be with us, reminding them of what they desperately want some day. And while I’m sure at times it is tough, they often tell us that our family inspires and encourages them, that they leave our home with renewed hope that they, too, can find what we have.
And those times that I can escape for a few hours for a long chat or an outing with a single friend, I’m reminded that I, too, have an identity outside my husband and children. It’s easy for our lives to become child-centric, to forget I have hobbies, talents and dreams outside my family. But I do. Hanging out with my single friends reminds me to take time for myself, that I’m important, too. They encourage me to pursue my goals, whether it be taking up writing again, reading good books or discovering a new place to travel to.
These friendships and encounters increase the gratitude I have for the life I live. On the toughest days it can be easy to wish I was single again, carefree and well-rested. However, while listening to the pain in friends’ voices after another failed date, I’m reminded of my blessings, even when these blessings draw with pen all over my walls.
Most importantly, these friendships provide love. While it can be more difficult to find time to connect with single friends, it’s important that we don’t turn our back on these relationships because not only do they provide encouragement and support that love is out there and can be found, but that love is already present right where we’re at.
Flickr/Erik Cleves Kristensen