We had such a great weekend--the perfect combination of time with the kids, time by ourselves, and time with friends (at a secret Dave Chappelle show in Oakland no less!). I spent much of Sunday in that cozy, fuzzy cocoon that, if you had to label it, would be called gratitude. Not much of a phone person, I even mustered up the energy to pick up the phone and call one of my best friends from law school. She and I are on constant contact on email but, obviously, there is nothing like a real conversation, where you hear someone's voice and where topics proceed in real time versus the weird timing of emails back and forth. I hung up the phone with a buzz--that is what time with good friends does right?
Apparently, it does more than that. According to this article, strong friendships may actually better your health and increase your life expectancy. Among the many mind-blowing statistics in the article: Women suffering from breast cancer who are without close friends are four times as likely to die from the disease as women with 10 or more friends. And, this anecdote blew me away as well:
Take a second to digest that: Friendship can actually change your perception of adverse situations!
Last year, researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone.
The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.
“People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” said Karen A. Roberto, director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech. “Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.”
It reminds me of a scene from the Sex And the City Movie (which I didn't even really like...) Remember when Miranda calls Carrie on New Years Eve? The scene of Carrie getting up and rushing over to Miranda, telling her "You aren't alone," that beautiful version of Auld Lang Syne playing in the background--it's one of the best miniatures of what friendship means that I have ever seen...
Ever since I became a mother I have appreciated my friendships so much more. The simplest acts of human kindness make me well up now (why is that? do they inject cheesiness when they take out the baby?) so the wonderful, loving friendships I have in my life bowl me over, when I really think about it.
But here's the thing: It seems like lots of us have stopped making new friends. Think about it--when is the last time you met somebody you connected with and really got to cultivate a new friendship with her? We all have the usual rigamarole of why this is so, not the least of which is that--um--we are moms and are therefore busy. But is that it? Do we just not have time for new friends anymore?
According to this clip it's more than that. Entitled "Why Is It So Difficult To Make Mom Friends," this video chronicles women who explain their stumbling stones in finding kindred spirits amongst other moms. To wit: There's even an eHow post on the topic of "How to Make Mom Friends."
It can't be just time, can it? Are moms too judgmental to become close with other moms? Are our social interactions too focused on children to give friendships a chance? I wonder if that part of us that is curious to meet new people and experience new things gets dimmed a little post-children. Because of fatigue and time limitations, yes...but also because of complacency...we don't need new friends anymore, like me might have in college, or when we moved to a new city. We are fine with how things are...
I vacillate on the take-away from this though. On the one hand, I never feel like i have enough time for the wonderful friends I have. Perhaps the goal, then, should be to make more time for our friends in meaningful ways. Don't just play catch-up and replay the same jokes over and over again. Engage. Learn. Grow.
On the other, who wants life to be crystallized exactly where we are right now? We have to live and learn and change (hopefully for the better) and that means meeting new people and not being static. And though it's harder to make new friends now than it was in college--when the magical perfect storm occurs, and you do actually meet a new friend with whom you can laugh and cry as if you have known her forever...man can it be amazing.
Plus, it just might lower your cholesterol...!