I love learning.
That’s a pretty broad opening sentence, but it sums up much of what I have been feeling as of late. Through some pretty amazing family members and friends I have begun learning a little more about food, medicine and the human body. There are many, varying opinions on each of these topics and (since I love to learn) I appreciate hearing all sides to the argument.
With every passing day I also seem to learn more about friendship and the roles different people play in our lives. And yes, since I am always thinking about my children, it seems to be an extra bonus that they learn these lessons right alongside mommy.
Like most people I have a small handful of friends I would deem as ‘close’ friends. I’m sure many of you (especially the ladies) know the ones I speak of. The friends who have seen you on your worst day, have positioned themselves as punching bags on occasion yet still come back. The friends who hold you up in your weakest moment and quietly celebrate you (yet not too loudly, so as to contain your ego). The friends who smile politely as the rest of the world sings your praises, safely guarding the ‘true’ you they know. The people who hold these roles in my life, I treasure.
I treasure them for many reasons, but the one which I love the most is our ability to disconnect and reconnect with no disruption to the friendship. You know the friend you may not have spoken to in a year, but when they are in crisis you are the person they seek. You are the person who can get them through a two hour conversation and suddenly all is once again right with the world.
Recently I’ve also come to realize I embrace a different role in some friendships. The role of ‘benchwarmer’ friend is one I seem to be right at home in. Fortunately I have a few of these friends in my world as well.
You know the friends who ‘pop’ in and check in on you every now again. The people who would show up in a pinch, but you may not connect with regularly. These are the people who often help me get through the day to day of everyday life.
A few have shared that they view me as a ‘cheerleader’ when it comes to a few of my friendships. Personally, I think I’m more of a megaphone, not always clear on when to push the mute button. Ultimately, I’m a benchwarmer friend to many.
It’s a nice place to be really. To show up on occasion and offer a bit of help when you know it may be needed. To relieve that friend from the feeling of burdening someone who has been there constantly or sometimes just serve as a sounding board.
My children and I travel pretty regularly as a trio. So what I truly love about all the roles of friendship, is what they gain from our experience as a family.
They are learning what it means to put ourselves second for our friends if we are able.
These lessons of course are usually followed by mommy stating, ‘That’s what friends do and when we need help our friends always seem to show up.’
As stated by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.”
It really is that simple if you give it some thought. At the end of the day, when our time here is finished it will never be about our bank account, the car we drove or the size of a wedding ring.
What people ultimately remember about others is how they were touched by them. The kindness we give to others not only finds its way back but continues on to others.
So the ‘type’ of friend you are to another really has little to do with anything. The bigger question is: are you the friend who will show up? Are you the friend who will do the jobs no one else wants?
In the end the way we navigate our way through life and friendship is constantly under the watchful eye of our children. So, how can you indirectly change the world? Simple, live up to the standards our children are deserving of.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.