Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about friends.
Family, Friends and Family Friends
Today, I am reflecting over family friendships, past and present.
One of the most precious things about growing up, for me, was our joint family. Ours was a matriarchal family which consisted of my Grandmother, happily acknowledged as the wise head who knew everything, my Uncles and Aunts and cousins. What I’ve always marveled at was the prevailing sense of cheer at home. Our house was more or less like Liberty Hall with relatives and friends coming and going as they pleased – everyone was welcome. Since I am talking about the 60s, there’s nothing strange about this.
When someone in the family from out of town had to visit our city to work or study, it was taken for granted that they would live with us and this could extend to months or years, no questions asked. After all, my Grandmother was considered the local guardian.
If someone in the family, or from the neighbors’ family was having a baby, they would simply take it for granted that my Grandmother would rally around and deliver at home, should the need arise. Hospitals were for emergencies, and having a baby was not considered one.
If someone in the family or one of our neighbors fell sick they automatically came home so Grandma could treat them with home remedies.
If someone had an eye infection, it wasn’t hard to find someone who had had a baby to provide a few drops of breast milk to heal it.
With such a solid network of family members whose friends were considered family as well, and our close relationship with our neighbors, is it any wonder that friends were an integral part of my life?
When my Mom went to work at the school where she studied (I studied there too), it was understood that the entire staff of the school would visit us every Saturday for a South Indian meal lovingly cooked and served by my Grandma. It followed naturally that she embraced their problems and was the go-to adviser no matter what the problem was.
I consider myself blessed to have grown up with family, friends and family friends. I feel doubly blessed to have had the pleasure of seeing my Mom and her siblings act more like friends than brother-sister.
It taught me the importance and the value of building relationships, both within and outside my home.
Today, I find myself smiling when I think back on my own friendships that began in elementary school, grew and blossomed into lifelong friendships. My best friend who lives in Canada calls me every week and we talk for hours. If I happen to be busy in the kitchen, she talks to Vidur or Sury. It is an easy friendship that has cemented into a solid relationship and includes our families.
As we went through school and college, I fondly recall how we would exchange sweets with each other’s families during festivals and special occasions. When one of us had an event at home, the other’s entire family would be present and help with everything from organizing to taking care of the guests as one family.
Money problems? They were there, ready to help.
Children in trouble? They were ready to step in sort it out.
Issues at school and parents busy? They did not mind taking the responsibility of meeting the teachers
Emergency trip out of town? They were ready to take in the children until the parents returned.
Friend’s family sick? No matter. Food would be sent without question and the sick were taken care of and nursed to recovery.
Why, I even remember my Mom telling me that when I was born a couple of her cousins had delivered around the same time and did not have enough breast milk. Since she had an abundance of breast milk, she fed her cousin’s babies.
I recall the days, decades later, when I had a particularly busy week at work and my Mom developed severe toothache, my friend just stepped in and took care of the multiple visits to the dentist.
When I traveled out of town, she would make it a point to visit my Mom every day and sometimes, bring her food, stay over and help her clean house. I did the same for her Mom when she was out of town.
Today, I am thrilled that our families get along so well. We enjoy seeing our children interact as easily as we do.
When my son started school, I would often wonder if he would form the sort of friendships I did, because life is certainly different for him, what with our family being so much smaller. It was my Mom, Sury, Vidur and I until 2010. After she passed away, it is just the three of us.
Sometimes I feel he’s missing out on so much. But I see him with his classmates and smile when I think that I’ve known so many of them from the time they were first-graders. Their parents are all familiar and good friends even though we don’t interact as much as our parents did in those days.
After all, life is so different now. I grew up without a phone, TV, refrigerator until the mid-80s. Yet, my life is full of solid relationships. It is ironic that with all the technology at our fingertips these days, so many people do not have the time for face to face conversations.
Still, I’d say life has come full circle from my family’s friends, my friends, my friends’ families, my son’s friends and their families.
Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.
Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon August 12 with all the carnival links.)
- Sibling Revelry — At Natural Parents Network, Amy W. shares her joy in witnessing the growth of the friendship between her two young children.
- Making New Mama Friends — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on how she was able to connect with like-minded mamas and form deep friendships both in ‘real life’ and online. Learn how these life-long friendships, both between Jennifer and other mothers but also between Jennifer’s daughter and the other children, formed and flourished.
- Family, Friends and Family Friends — Vidya Sury at Vidya Sury, Going A-Musing, Collecting Smiles is reflecting on family friendships, past and present.
- Arranging friendships in a modern world — From a free-range childhood to current parenthood, how can an introvert like Lauren at Hobo Mama navigate the newly complicated scheduling of playdates and mom friends?
- Mommy Blogs: Where Moms Make Friends — Mothers make friends with other mothers in new ways. The options from earlier decades remain, but new avenues have sprung up with mommy bloggers. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence shares her thoughts.
- Friendship and Sacrifice: Guardians of the Galaxy — Shay at 4HisGlory learned that friendship lessons can be found in unlikely places, like blockbuster summer movies.
- Friendship – Finding, Forming, Keeping, and Wishing — Life Breath Present‘s thoughts on finding, forming, keeping, and wishing for friendships as an introvert.
- Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners — How have you intentionally created community? Dionna at Code Name: Mama‘s goal for the year is to cultivate community. One way she’s done that is to help organize two different monthly dinners with friends.
- Adults need imaginary friends, too — Tat at Mum in Search shares why it’s a good idea for adults to have imaginary friends. You get to meet Tat’s friend and download a playbook to create your own.
- Friends Near, Friends Far — Kellie at Our Mindful Life helps her kids keep in touch with friends 600 miles apart.
- Which comes first, social skills or social life? — Jorje of Momma Jorje frets about whether her daughter can learn social skills without experience, but how to get good experience without social skills.
- Snail Mail Revival — Skype isn’t the only way to stay in touch with long distance friends, That Mama Gretchen and her family are breaking out the envelopes and stamps these days!
- Montessori-Inspired Friendship Activities — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a roundup of Montessori-inspired friendship activities for home or classroom.
- How I used the internet to make local friends — After years of striking out at the park, Crunchy Con Mom finally found some great local friends . . . online!
- My How Friends Change — Erica at ChildOrganics knows entirely too much about how to comfort a friend after a loss.