The scene opens on a small town library, in a room with that familiar book smell, but a bit louder than the rest of the library. It is filled with young parents and their small children. We’re sitting on the oversized carpeted steps that go around the room and up like amphitheater seats. We’re waiting for story time to begin.
I have a diaper bag, stroller, and two toddlers that I’m trying to keep calm and quiet. My nerves are on edge and I’m wishing I had about four more arms to juggle it all. I breathe a little sigh of relief when a fellow MOPS mom, whom I had talked with before, comes in with her three kids and sit near us.
Sara was her name and connection was her game. She had a bright, warm smile. She was welcoming and understanding. She was funny and always knew what to say. She was a little ahead of me on the motherhood journey and I got to watch her navigate her path with grace. She was very real, very open, quick to laugh at herself, and great at conversation.
She hugged people, sent encouraging notes in the mail, and invited people to her house for pancakes.
Yes, on that day at the library, she chatted with me and a few other moms…and spontaneously invited us and all our kids over to her house for pancakes. There were toys in her living room, a couple piles on her dining room table, and dirty dishes in her sink. She didn’t even know if she had enough milk in the fridge for making pancakes. She scrounged around to find enough sippy cups for all, cleared off the dining table, slapped the pancakes on paper plates and we all sat down for a mommy connection time.
It was a much needed breath of fresh air for me. It taught me a lot and showed me a beautiful model of spontaneity and simplicity, of which I am neither. In reflecting on adult friendships like I have been lately, I’ve asked myself what the definition of a good friend is to me. I have to say that Sara emulated many of the qualities, but spontaneity stands out. (Although she denies being spontaneous on a regular basis.)
In the act of listening to her heart that day, I know all the moms whom she asked over for pancakes were blessed.
She took risks. Not only a risk that she would have enough food, but a risk of other moms judging her house; a risk of messing with her schedule; a risk of a mob of kids making messes; a risk of such a simple act of hospitality being well received; and a risk of welcoming and connecting with each guest on some level.
She pushed past all that. She had an idea and she invited us over. She let us into her home, and that was powerful.
I think many of us are too worried about what others think of us, our kids, or our houses. I also think that we are too scheduled out – looking to our calendars and making appointments. But connecting with people’s hearts is more important than judgments or schedules.
I’m still in the midst of watching the sitcom Friends straight through on Netflix. (I’m up to season seven.) One of the things I love about the group of six friends is that they’re all fine with having each other over…even just walking in…whenever. They share their living spaces, hanging out with one another. They share meals, breaking bread with each other in some way on almost every episode.
Sharing food and having people in our homes is an important key to developing intimacy and friendships. These are elements that all of my closer adult friendships have had in common. I admit that playing hostess myself is not easy or natural for me. I love making food for people, but lack in the welcoming and connecting part. In recognizing my need for friends, it all has to start with an invitation. My idea is that practicing intentional invitations at first might then morph into spontaneous ones.
I want to be like Sara when I grow up!
(You can read my prior post, Friends :: The One With the Lone Ranger by clicking there.)
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