Recent happenings have caused me to ponder how easily we forget people. Not our loved ones who have passed on - surely we remember them from time to time with fond memories. What I'm noticing is how easily we forget people in our lives due to a change in circumstances. For instance, in past years, friends I've had from my neighborhood have moved - not out of state but to a nearby neighborhood - but they might as well be out of the state, or the country for that matter, for all I've seen them since. People who spent weekends at my home, enjoying a party or a game night, have dropped out of my life completely as soon as they moved a few blocks away.
Within the past year, my daughter has moved from her high school to a homeschooling program due to health issues. And slowly her friends have faded from her life. There is an occasional invite to a girls' night or gathering, but more often than not, she's forgotten. The downside of social media is that it's not too hard to know what all your friends are doing when they post their every move on Facebook. So, it's easy to see the events you haven't been invited to. And it's all the more distressing when you know those same people have been more than happy to spend their time at your home, taking advantage of your hospitality and rarely, if ever, reciprocating.
I think it's just a lack of manners today. I've noticed this type of "take but not give" mentality overtaking our society. I cannot count the times a parent has been more than happy to drop their child off at my house for a long playdate, but never reciprocated. Even now, as teens, my kids' friends' parents seem to think we're the daycare/carpool/eating establishment for their children. I love to welcome my kids friends (and my own friends) into my home, but when that invitation is rarely extended by others, it doesn't feel very encouraging.
Recently I drove carpool for a week to an event my children were involved in. I picked up two teens who needed rides. Only later in the week did I find out their parents were not only home, but available to drive, they just didn't want to! These parents did not offer gas money or any other compensation for me to drive their children (neither of whom I had met previous to the carpool arrangement). I felt they could have at least offered to take one day each in exchange for me driving the other days. My husband and I are very generous about giving rides home to our kids' friends, but when it becomes an expectation, it makes you feel taken advantage of and the result is that you simply do not want to extend the generosity anymore. Which is sad, because that's the very problem I'm talking about. People are not very generous with their time and hospitality these days.
I understand that we're all busy and have jobs and families to take care of. But I also know it's not that hard to extend some common courtesies. The sad truth is, I think people just "forget". I'm certain most people would love to catch up more, have more fun with their friends, celebrate the good times. But we get so wrapped up in ourselves, we rarely look around us or think about others. Our best intentions are just that - intentions. It reminds me of a quote I read recently "a goal without a plan is just a wish". This is so true - we can talk it up all we want, but until someone springs into action, it's just talk.
It breaks my heart when I hear my kids talking to their friends and making grandiose plans for the summer. "We're totally going on a road trip!" or "We are having sleepovers EVERY weekend!" And I know those things won't happen unless someone plans them. It's all well and good when school is ending and summer is looming, long and luxurious and unscheduled, and the next thing you know, you realize summer is impossibly short and you never went on that road trip or had that sleepover or got that awesome tan.
In my family, we do plan. Most of that planning falls on my shoulders, but I've had enough experience to know that if I don't plan it, no one will. And the thing is, I WANT to have fun. I WANT to socialize. I WANT to celebrate. So, I do. And I won't stop doing it just because others are too wrapped up in their own lives to include me or my children in theirs.
But I'd like to see more people take some initiative when it comes to including their friends. That friend you always say you're going to have lunch with? Make those plans today. That spontaneous gathering? Don't forget that neighbor or friend just down the street who might also enjoy it. And when you think back on all those people you "used" to be friends with, try to remember why you're not friends anymore. If you had a falling out, perhaps you can revisit your friendship now that time has passed. If you just forgot about them as you moved on, perhaps you can remember that they were once there for you unconditionally. It's ok if you've let friends go for other reasons. We can't all stay friends forever. But you might be surprised that the friends you "used" to know could still be the same trusted, loyal friends they once were before you let the slip from your circle. Don't forget.