Gratitude Friday: Summertime Friends…

Summertime is here, friends. And, OBVIOUSLY, that means my daughter has been waking up somewhere around the time the sun starts peeking its head out. Pumpkin SAYS the sun is up but based on the length of time Netflix has been on, I’m estimating that time is around 5:52 am.

One morning, I got up around 6:20 am. I opened the bedroom door and there was Pumpkin. Sitting at the kitchen table. Coloring.

When she saw me, her precious little face lit up.

As it was the first thing and I had not yet had my caffeine and I was genuinely not expecting to see a single soul when I opened the door, my face said, “What in the SAM HILL are you doing up this early?”

Her face promptly fell.

And my heart hit my feet.

I tried to recover but it was done. My reaction to seeing my miracle, much-adored, gorgeous girl was surprise tainted with disappointment.

Sigh.

So basically, if she’s asked for it in the past week, she’s gotten it. Because I WILL try to win back her affection with spoiling. I have no shame.

On day five of summer, she woke up feeling frustrated and lonely and forgotten. The day before, her little bestie (sometimes) (when they’re not fighting like sisters) spent the entire day at our house and had mostly spent it playing with little brother.

That’s right, y’all. Pumpkin competes with Skillet for her bestie’s attention.

She came to me saying she missed her “old” friends and since it was summer, can’t we go see them?

Well, I mean, sure?  And would this get me off the hook for breaking your spirit with my face?  (I didn’t actually ask her that.) (I probably should have. She’d have totally understood.)

I asked her to let me check with some of them and see what I could arrange.

What she meant by “old friends” are her friends from her previous school.  She attended that precious school from two-year-old preschool through half-day kinder.

She also meant our friends from our small group. Goodness, they were just so lovely.

Here’s what I need to tell y’all about last year: IT ROCKED.

Last year was the year things finally started to feel like home for us.

Pumpkin made some sweet friends at school and in small group, Skillet made friends with Sister’s friends and their little brothers, and I made friends with the mommas. The kids played for hours and hours and hours on the preschool playground. Families visited and laughed and got to know each other. Playdates occurred, dance classes formed, birthdays celebrated, and lots of sunscreen got sprayed.

But preschool and private kindergartens and even small groups must come to an end. And so before we moved an hour south, we knew this year would be different. Different schools, different grade levels, different teachers, different experiences, different groups.

Different is not always bad. As change is not always bad. That doesn’t at all mean we don’t miss the familiar and comfortable and easy. Like those friendships. Friends who know our history and with whom we share a history. There is so much joy and trust and acceptance in those friendships with memories.

And so, because she asked and because I needed to earn forgiveness (I’m kidding) and because the chance to meet up with women I adore is not something I frequently turn down, I started asking.

Texting, really.

By a sheer miracle of the shared value of unscheduled, over-bored childhoods, the first friend I texted was available and able to meet THAT DAY.  Sweet mercy.

So I did exactly what I said I would in my previous post. Threw random food and some bottles of water into a cooler, grabbed some beach towels and sunscreen, and drove to a local splash pad for a wonderful, hot, catch-up play date.

It was blissful.

And also exhausting.

Skillet sleeping Pumpkin sleeping

Several more playdates are in the works. Some old friends, some forever friends, some new friends.

Y’all, I want my kids to know I value their needs and if my daughter expresses a desire to see a friend, then I’ll do my best to work that out.  And I also want my kids to know I value friendships. Old, new, forever, all of them.

Life is too short to not drive 30 minutes to see people you love. Childhood is too short not to teach our kids how to be a friend.

I am incredibly grateful for friendships. Ones made on playgrounds and in classrooms and across streets and during morning walks to school and at afternoon stops waiting for school to let out and while sitting in church pews and over tables of food and serving next to in ministry.

I am overwhelmingly grateful for friends who feel the same. That we share the value of splash pad playdates trumping loads of laundry waiting to be folded any day. That even if the school year schedules make free time scarce, the summertime is always a good time to reconnect. That relationships can and should be built with the people who live in our neighborhoods and serve in our churches. And that moving a little further down the road does not for one second mean a friendship has to end.  It may just change shape.

If you are lonely and feeling like you really don’t have any friends in your life, let me encourage you to check again. I suspect lots of people on the fringe of your life are just waiting to be invited somewhere.

Social media gives us the false sense that everyone is overflowing with relationships and there isn’t any room for more. But what I have learned is that most of us are just waiting to be invited to your table and almost every one of us has room for more at our tables.

I am incredibly grateful for new, old, forever, summertime, wintertime, holiday time, all the time friendships.

We have been overwhelmingly blessed with amazing people in our lives.

But we still have room at our table.

Lord, thank you for the friends we have and those we have yet to meet.  More besties my children will love someday.  More mentors and more prayer warriors and more hungry bellies and hurting hearts.  Lord, for every precious soul you have sent and will send to our table, I am humbled and overflowing with thankfulness.

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