When my kids were all babies and toddlers they went where I went. Their friends were the kids of my friends. We had play dates at parks. We went as a stroller entourage to the zoo. We piled into little living rooms among diapers and hot wheels and stepped on too many legos.
Those were sweet, sweet years. Some of my best friendships were born while nursing babies and chasing toddlers.
Over time play dates ended. Zoo trips were less and less frequent. Seeing my friends is not as easy as we all are going in the different directions of our kids these days. Intentional became the name of the game – for my friendships and the ones I want to help my kids cultivate.
When kids were teeny, my friendships grew because of similar schedules. In more recent years maintaining those adult friendships takes great intention and determination to cultivate them despite our schedules. For me it looks like intentionally choosing to be the places my friends will be – showing up even when it makes my schedule harder and my introvert self would rather stay home.
My oldest is entering 10th grade and we talk a lot about the importance of friendships – the healthy kind that push you towards the best version of yourself. I find myself entering a new season where instead of working hard to grow and protect my friendships – I’m making daily choices in how I will help my kids grow in their own friendships.
Instead of having playdates with my friends with toddlers underfoot, I’m hosting game nights for teenagers. The snacks aren’t cut up grapes and pretzels anymore. These days the entire island is piled high with bags of chips, un-cut grapes, and chocolate chip cookies. Instead of talking over toddlers and cleaning up spills, I am talking with teenagers and smiling when they ask, “Where is a towel? There is a spill.”
Just like the season of playdates and sippy cups came and went, I know this season will come and go. I know I have a small window to pile my island high with food and answer, “absolutely” when teenagers ask to have a bunch of friends over. I have a small window to engage in conversations about permit tests, summer jobs, and what random memes are the funniest of the week. I have a small sliver of time before the view out my back window will change once again.
One day it will hopefully be my friends and I gathered back in my kitchen – sipping coffee and talking about weddings, grandkids, and celebrating decades of being together. For now – this is a season I want to be super intentional to help my kids cultivate the kinds of friendships that last beyond high school – the kind I’ve known and so deeply cherish.