Once upon a time I was in my early twenties, no children, a job I could leave at work for the most part, a full night’s sleep and a partridge in a pear tree. When a friend would have a baby or someone got really sick I would show up with my arms loaded full of home baked goodies, thoughtful cards, meals to their exact liking and honestly I really thought this is what service to the people in my life should look like.
Then I had my first baby. Then another, this time the first one was only two and the second had colic. It was the hardest transition of my life. During this period, I completely stopped showing up with meals and loving my tribe in this way, not because I wasn’t able to but because I didn’t feel I could do the job justice. I felt that what I would be able to offer wasn’t good enough to bother with. I was so wrong.
Now, I have three little boys, we live in a tiny house (like an actual tiny house, not just a small house), our lives are full but so very happy. I’m in my thirties now, I’m older, more tired and I’ve been through enough in my life to learn the truth I wish I’d known then, are you ready? It’s really profound… Just show up.
That’s it, really. Just show up. When your friend’s husband dies unexpectedly, when she has a baby, when she is going through a divorce, when her life is unraveling, she doesn’t care if you baked the cookies from scratch and perfectly placed them in a platter. Show up (call first) in your socks with pizza. Honestly, I think showing up without your act perfectly together is probably more kind to the person who is going through hell.
A friend went through some of the hardest life changes you can go through last year, I got the call at 6pm, left my kids with my husband and drove the 15 minutes to her house with my socks beautifully crammed into the Birkenstocks I’d found near the door. My hair needed to be washed and I probably had a coffee stain on my sweatshirt. I got to the door and let myself in (we’re close). I held her, loaded her dishwasher, read her kids a story and tucked them in, switched the laundry and cleaned the front bathroom for guests. You see earlier in my life I wouldn’t have made it there for an hour because I felt it was important to make myself presentable and bring a Pinterest-worthy meal. She didn’t need Pinterest, she needed me, in all my socks with Birkenstocks imperfection. She needed me to meet her in the middle of her nightmare, to stand in the Gap and to sit at her table at 9:30 drinking hot tea and listening.
Loving the people around you shouldn’t wait until you can do it perfectly and beautifully. There’s no trophy for best baked good drop off. There’s nothing to be gained by keeping people from your realness. Somewhere in the social media age we lost touch with the people close to us. We started comparing our private lives to everyone else’s Instagram feed. We stopped being the village. We started fending for ourselves. Enough is enough. Life is beautiful but it can be so hard, we need people in our lives to show up and to love us in the midst of our tragedy. We need human interaction and we need pizza in our socks with good friends.
We need the village. It was there for a reason.