I get so excited on Tuesdays now because it's Girlfriend Guide day!!! This feature has taken on a life of its own and brought my beautiful girls and I even closer, allowing us to delve deeper into our relationships and forcing us to reflect on who and what means most to us in our lives. This week, I would like to introduce you to one of the most beautiful women I know, inside and out: April. She is not only one of my closest confidantes but my cousin as well. We were raised in a big, loud, traditional Cajun family and together make up a group of over 60 cousins! We spent our childhood playing on the banks of the bayou, making forts in the barn, and running through the fields. As the years passed, we grew even closer with the addition of husbands and children into our lives, relying on each other for breast feeding advice and confiding to one another about the ups and downs of parenthood. April is truly on of the most amazing women I know, happily raising three little boys (all under the age of three) with her husband, Ben. She is an elementary school teacher by day and super mom by night and somehow always manages to look like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine. Please enjoy the insightful words she so graciously provided this post with!
1. What is your personal definition of friendship?
There are friends and then there are FRIENDS. True friends will stick by you even in your most darkest of days…when you don’t have a positive thing to say about anything…when you aren’t sure of yourself or your life they will pick you up by your bootstraps and even give you a good kick in the pants if they know you need it. There are no false pretenses in true friendship, no need to be anything but yourself.
2. What qualities do you look for in a girlfriend?
Compassionate, grounded, truly genuine, contagious positive energy, not judgmental, someone who constantly pushes me to better myself.
3. How do you balance spending time with friends and fostering relationships with work and family?
Well I’m really having a hard time with this one right now. With three children under 3, life can get hectic. I try first and foremost to keep close to my husband and to never let that relationship go stale, because that is one relationship that can easily be put on the back burner and taken for granted. I strongly value my marriage and the love we share and do whatever possible to protect and nurture it. But without good friendships, things can quickly become overwhelming. Most of my friendships have become long distance over the past couple of years with friends moving away, and that’s when taking the time to have long phone conversations helps. But it’s not enough to post a comment on someone’s wall…it takes work! Taking the time to tend and cultivate those friendships should be a high priority for anyone.
4. What advice would you give other women about having healthy, happy friendships?
I think the most obvious thing is just to be there for your friends, even when it’s inconvenient. When I have a kid screaming on my hip and another one taking off his poopy diaper in the living room and still another one demanding juice, I’ve learned that EVEN THEN if a friend is calling, at least answer and tell her you really want to talk to her but you’ll find a better time to talk later. It’s not ideal to make appointments to talk to your friends, but this is just a season in my life right now and I realize that. I want to know that my friends will always be willing to lend a sympathetic ear when I’ve had a bad day. I don’t want to only hear about the good things in their life. I want to be there for the good, the bad and the UGLY! I want my friends to know they don’t have to pretend for me. This isn’t an audition…it’s life. True friends will be genuinely happy when things are going well for you and hurt deep inside when things are not. They are tied to your heart.
5. How has having strong friendships enriched your life?
The friendships that I’ve kept along the years are those that have forced me out of my comfort zone and helped me to grow into the person I want to be. I gravitate toward positive energy and a sense of humor. I enjoy spending my time with people who look at the world as though everything and every day is a miracle. Life’s too short to waste time always wishing things were different.
6. What is your favorite girlfriend memory we have shared?
Well being from the same crazy Cajun family, there have been too many to count! We’ve known each other our whole lives but our friendship has grown so much the past couple of years. From playing in the bayous as kids to obsessing over fictional vampires, we have had so many good times. You are the kind of person I would choose to be in my life forever even if we weren’t related! You're sweet, down-to-earth, open, non-judgmental personality is a strong force in my life. You are an amazing person, inside and out, always trying to live life to the fullest. That is what I admire most about you! I LOVE YOU!
Girlfriends like April:
Girlfriends like April are inspiring. She has the most positive attitude and optimistic heart. Being around a person who is so warm and full of life is contagious and I genuinely enjoy her company so much. Our friendship is different from any other I have because we are also family. We have experienced so much together: tragedies and new beginnings, weddings and births, growth and change in every aspect of our lives. And I have taken comfort in witnessing how gracefully she handles all of life's ups and downs, her courageous spirit serving as a constant inspiration and reminder to me of how life truly is what you make it. Girlfriends like April motivate you to be more just by being themselves. I have seen her with three babies hanging from every limb, tears and demands and chaos galore, and still she smiled and laughed and shrugged her shoulders and embraced the moment. She is strong and brave and makes the most out of each day, regardless of where she is in life. Every woman should have someone like her to draw inspiration from! I love you, April, and am so thankful to have you in my life. We are so blessed with our family, no matter how crazy they really are. Here's to many more shared milestones and a life full of love!