A few years ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Brene Brown’s opening keynote speech at a conference I attended. The entire speech was good, but one thing that she said has really stuck with me over the years and that is the idea that we all need “a friend who would move a body for us.”
Go over to Brene’s blog and read the story behind this phrase and then come back here. It is a good one. I’ll wait for you.
What we need is a friend who will stand by us and not pass any judgement or ask too many questions. A friend who will just jump in and help us out when we need them.
I agree that friends like that are a rare treasure, and for me, I know that parenting has shown me that we need those treasured friends as part of our support system.
Okay, so we don’t need someone to move an actual body, but most of us do need someone to look past the sticky spots in our lives. We need the kind of support and encouragement that doesn’t come with conditions because parenting, as you know, can be a messy business.
We need someone who can overlook the messes (literal and figurative) in our lives, someone who doesn’t pass judgement, and someone to whom we can turn to during vulnerable moments and vent without worrying that our emotional words will be thrown back in our faces.
Someone Who Can Overlook the Mess
A few of my girlfriends and I have a deal: we don’t clean before we visit each other’s homes. It is radical, I know, and contrary to the example of the good hostess many of us have been raised to be. But, what a joy it is!
Not only does this agreement save the pre-company frantic cleaning, but it also allows us to really enjoy each other’s visits and gives us the reassurance that yes, these are real homes with real families living in them and real messes. It takes the stress and the pretense away.
There are the everyday messes of life with kids. And, sometimes there are messes because we are in challenging seasons of life that demand we put our time and energy somewhere else besides the housework. We need people in our lives who we can open our doors to, no matter what is going on.
Before my third child was born, my mom and my sister-in-law, Jennifer, came to stay with us and watch the older kids. While they were here, these wonderful women not only cleaned my house from top to bottom but they filled our pantry and freezer with delicious things to eat once the new baby arrived, too.
Now, there aren’t very many people I could let see my dirty laundry or the dust bunnies underneath our beds without cringing, but these two women passed no judgements on me but sincerely wanted to help and make our “nest” as cozy as possible before we brought our new baby home. I’m very blessed to have them in my life. And, if they saw anything that horrified them as they were cleaning my home, neither one has ever mentioned it to me.
I think everyone needs a friend who doesn’t see that your floors haven’t been mopped this week (month?) or that the baby is wearing only her diaper or the kids are still in their pajamas at lunchtime. Because we all have days like that. Every parent needs a friend who can come over on a bad day, without passing any judgement, and be an extra pair of hands. A true helper.
Someone Who Makes No Judgements
When you choose a simpler path for your family and step out of the mainstream, sometimes that means you are making different parenting choices from your friends and family. Now, I don’t mind a healthy discussion with someone who genuinely wants to know why we do what we do. I’m generally happy to recommend books and websites for further information on a topic.
However, sometimes you don’t want to be an advocate for a cause. Sometimes you just want to spend time with a friend without having to explain yourself or discuss parenting philosophies.
We shouldn’t live in a bubble, of course. And what one family’s simple, as I often say, might very well be another family’s complicated. There is no “one size fits all” although some will try to convince you that there is.
I think we all need someone in our lives who parents differently from us, whether that difference is something like the type of education we choose for our children or the religious service we attend, or something less significant in the big picture, like cloth diapering or having a gift-free birthday party or enrolling our kids in dance lessons.
The key, I feel, is that we need the company of someone who may do things differently but also doesn’t pass judgement on us or expect us to constantly be defending our choices. And, vice versa, someone whose choices we can respect as well, even when they are different from our own.
There might people in your life whom you feel are constantly looking at your parenting under a microscope. Those people are exhausting to be around, am I right? What a joy it is when we don’t have to feel like we are being judged or in competition with another parent.
I suppose what I’m saying is that, as parents, we need to be around other parents and families where there are differences, but that the differences don’t matter to the friendship. Those kind of relationships are good for us and for our kids.
Someone to Whom We Can Vent
My kids aren’t perfect and neither am I. I make mistakes. I get burned out. My kids misbehave. I can admit that here, right?
There are times when that “body” that I need a friend to help me deal with is my own. I know that I have days where it seems that one thing after another piles up and before I know it, my attitude is reflecting the stress that I feel.
I’m very fortunate that in those times, I have people that I can turn to and vent and they know that I don’t really want to “sell it all and move into a yurt” or “run away until they graduate.” * They know that I’m just having a very bad day and need to get some things off of my chest.
Likewise, I hope they feel that they can turn to me and cry or yell, too and I know that they aren’t really going to “lose their minds” but they are just feeling the stress of this very important parenting task and need to let off some verbal steam.
*What? You’ve never said these things?
I know that those words and foolish things I might say in the heat of the moment or at the peak of frustration won’t be thrown back in my face at a later time. I know that I am safe with these people to vent and break down. These are the friends who love me, and my kids, without expecting either of us to be perfect.
Everybody Need Somebody
If one is lucky, we have these three types of friends or perhaps even one or two people in our lives who have all of these qualities.
The important thing, I believe, is that every parent has someone that they feel safe being real and honest with during the sticky, stressful, far from perfect times of our lives. Whether that is a spouse, a family member, or a friend, we need people in our lives whose support doesn’t come with conditions.
We need that friend who would, as Brene Brown says, move a body for us.
I treasure my “move a body” friends. Do you have people in your life whom you know would help you without passing judgement? Do you have people that you are comfortable seeing the messier sides of your life?