I’m not someone who believes in having regrets. I believe that sometimes life could have turned out differently. I believe that sometimes we could have made better choices. But I don’t believe in holding onto the past. No matter how much we wish things were different, the truth is – they can’t be. However, I think we can learn from our mistakes. For me, I’ve learned how to be a better friend.
When life gets busy
When I gave birth to my first daughter, she was born premature (hence, severely underweight), had jaundice and had contracted a group B streptococcal infection (GBS). She spent 11 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, and I spent the first 5 days in hospital as an inpatient as well.
My husband and I were learning to cope with the demands of having a child, while trying to cope with everything else going on in our lives. We had a lot of personal issues going on at the time, and we were trying to manage everything as best we could.
I was friends with someone very important back then. A best friend, actually, who I would talk to during my first year as a stay-at-home mother. Someone who I’d joke with a lot. Someone who I’d clicked with right from the beginning.
But despite how close we were, I struggled with fitting her into my life. I never had the heart to tell her the extent of my personal issues. I never trusted her enough to explain what was really going on in my life.
She made time for me, but I never put in the amount of effort that she deserved in return. It was never that I didn’t care – it was because I was looking after my toddler who’d recently been diagnosed with a specific language impairment, had severe weight complications from birth, and was regularly seeing a paediatrician, dietician and speech therapist. I was so focused on being a good mother and wife, I forgot how to be a good friend.
Make time for each other
I look at my life now with my husband, 3 young children and career, and I ask myself, “Why am I able to make time for my loved ones now, but I couldn’t before?”
The answer is: Because I choose to make time for my loved ones now.
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The reality is, we are all busy. We have our own work, our careers, our relationships, our friendships, our families, other personal issues as well. Regardless of what our specific responsibilities are – it’s important that we make time for each other.
It’s never easy trying to fit someone into your busy schedule, but it’s all about making use of any time that you do have.
Ask yourself whether you’re really too busy to meet up with a loved one, or do you just think that you don’t have the time?
Could you at least call them one night and see how they’re going? Catch up over coffee? Or at least message them to say that you’re thinking of them?
I’ve found that when a person makes time for you in their busy schedule, what they’re really saying is, “I’m willing to make time for you because you are important to me.”
Life is short
Whenever I think about making time for a loved one, I think about what they mean to me. I think about the good they’ve done for my life.
The unfortunate reality is, life is short and we may never get another chance to tell someone how we truly feel about them.
Do you want to spend your life regretting the fact that you didn’t spend time with those who mean the most to you?
Do you want to look back on life and wonder what could’ve been?
We can give gifts to people. We can make promises to see them. We can be absolutely genuine when we do these things – but nothing can replace the gift of our undivided attention and time.
I believe that everyone – no matter who they are – appreciates someone who spends time with them. For everyone, this is bound to make them feel good.
So, whether you’re a parent, a student or a worker – have a think about the efforts that you’re putting into the relationships around you.
If you feel that you could be making more of an effort, don’t let the guilt get to you. Take responsibility and choose to do something about it.
Maybe the friendship I had with this person would’ve survived. Maybe it wouldn’t have.
But all that’s important now is that I learned something from my experience.
I hope you can too.