I've been thinking about friendships a bit lately and how many friends I have and how they relate to different aspects of my life. I've also wondered about whether there is a finite number of friendships that I can sustain at any given time.
I have friends in my life who have come at different ages and stages. My oldest friend is the daughter of one of my mum's friends (they went to school together) and I have photos of my friend in her pram next to mine (we're quite close in age). Then there's my friend who I've known since my first year at primary school - we are in the same class photo and she was one of my bridesmaids.
There are friends from high school, friends from youth group, friends from various workplaces, friends who became part of my life when I met my husband, and friends from when I was a young mum progressing through to when I was a not-so-young mum. Add to those a few friends I've made over the last decade and I have quite a bundle of women that I could list off as "friends".
The thought that came to mind recently though, was how many of these "friends" are truly "friends" and not just good acquaintances. I think it breaks down into a) close friends, b) friends and c) people I know or are friends with on facebook or at church or in some other less connected way. The other thing I noticed is that the number in each category gets smaller the closer they get to me. I seem to only be able to manage a certain number of close friendships in my life ~ is this my friendship quota?
As I've gotten older I seem to have become less social and the friends I hold close are women that have made an effort to stay connected to me and who make me feel that I am as important to them as they are to me. I could probably count those women on one hand and that is enough for me. The less close friends are a little more numerous - maybe a two hand count - they are still important to me but due to distance or conflicting schedules or different stages of life, they are less present in my world. The number in this group tends to fluctuate a little and I've noticed that as one friend drops away, another becomes more important - almost as if the quota is self-maintaining. I love these women and catching up with them is always rewarding, but there is not the same level of depth as there is with my close handful.
I'm not sure if other people have self-limiting quotas when it comes to maintaining friendships. I'm yet to find out if it's to do with the time I have available (there'll be more of that soon) or whether it's my personality and how much energy I have to invest in relationships. One of my friends is able to give more time to her friends because she is less connected to her husband than I am to mine. She needs other women to help fill that gap. My daughter has a very intense relationship with her husband and has very little left over to give to others. So I assume everyone's quota is different and may fluctuate depending on their age and stage of life.
I'm finding that I value my few close friends more as I get older, they don't let me down and they are going through similar life stages - we can laugh at our mothering mistakes and sympathize with each other's menopausal mishaps and bolster each other's confidence when getting older is getting us down. I'm looking forward to growing older with them, but I also want to keep adding new people to my mix so that I can learn and not get stuck in a rut. One of the joys of blogging is finding some new people who are sharing their journeys and teaching me about a whole different world that I never knew I could be a part of. Thanks ladies!