When I was in my 20’s, I was always hanging out with friends—planning weekend trips, going out to eat, sitting in coffee houses and chatting for hours. Before that, my high school years revolved around a handful of close friendships; today, the friendships I made in my teens and 20’s are among the most significant relationships of my life. However, as the mother of a young child with many friends in the same position, I have far less time for my friends. It is not that those relationships don’t matter to me. They matter perhaps now more than ever.
When I was eleven years old and depressed about my parents divorce, my best friend helped me emerge from that sadness. I’m still grateful to that friend for what she did for me, providing wisdom and guidance that was well beyond her years. Since then, friends have always been there for me through life’s challenges.
I hope I’ve been there for them, too. As much as my friends and I comfort each other, we also celebrate the happy, sweet moments—isn’t sharing in each other’s joy one of the many blessings of friendship?
Naturally, when people couple up and have kids, they have less time for friends. Yet, the parents of young children need camaraderie for enjoyment and support and healthy breaks away from family. Studies about this topic have shown that spending time with friends is an effective form of stress relief and that people with meaningful friendships even live longer.
Recently, I’ve made an extra effort to spend more time with friends–I guess I’ll call that my New Year’s resolution. I left these visits invigorated and grateful, and more aware than ever of the importance of friends in my life.
If you, like me, are longing to see more of your friends, here is my advice: Keep it simple. Don’t over-complicate it or that might just delay the reunion even longer. Pick up the phone or send an email and ask a friend to do something. Do it now, before another day goes by. You’ll be glad you did.
Erika Weisensee, a writer and native Oregonian, lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.