Time Well Spent

Just standing doing dishes this morning, sniffling and crying, remembering what my friend said last night in a text. Is it funny to consider a 26-year-old single man my best friend? I don’t know how it happened, except that I was being nice to him. Just like I am nice to everyone, polite, helpful…it’s the mom mentality. You help people — that’s just what you do.

Those great moms are natural at it. They are selfless, caring women who encourage their kids to invite all their friends over for fresh-baked cookies after school. They keep their homes tidy for when unexpected guests drop in, and they love to host huge meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Flag Day. Because of their generous spirits, they are well-loved and never lack for friends.

Then there are the moms like me, who learned on the job. We are wannabe great moms, knowing that it’s a good idea to keep the kids at our house because then we can keep an eye on them, and we like them, really, but we really would rather they spend the night at someone else’s house. I listen to my husband complain about all the women at work who are cooing over someone’s new baby, and he needs me to be on his side and tell him how they were being extremely inconsiderate of his feelings. Thanksgiving? At my house? How about a potluck? If I know I am going to have people over, even the cable guy, I have to spend a couple days cleaning the house before they get here.

You learn to be nice, and polite, and listen to problems and wash skinned knees. You do it because it’s expected of you. And since you have a reputation as a nice person, someone who will listen, you find that people like to talk to you and say you are very sweet. You have compassion for these people, because there is nobody else who seems to want to listen to them or care for them. But when it comes time for you to need a compassionate ear, it’s difficult to find someone who cares.

Life is so busy these days. If I wanted to call Michelle just to talk, I would, and she would like having me call, but I would always wonder what I was interrupting. She always tells me how busy she is, or how tired. And I think it would be nice, occasionally, to have someone just call me out of the blue and ask me how I was doing, that they were thinking of me. That’s the kind of thing that makes me cry.

That’s what my friend Kevin did for me last night. He passed up a chance to do something that would have been good for him just to be a friend to me. Kevin is very talkative and outgoing, a really good person if not just a tad bit quirky. He would make a great husband and dad, but he just hasn’t met the right girl yet. I think Kevin is one who has a lot of acquaintances but no real friends. He says his family is “dysfunctional.” It seems like a small thing to him, what he offered, but it’s huge for me. It’s rare to find someone who just likes you for who you are, not what you can do for them.

Time to go make Christmas cookies and create more dirty dishes. And time to stop crying and look forward to spending time with my friend Kevin.

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