“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiates 3:1

 

There are few people who can boast a 23 year-old friendship at the tender age of thirty. But I’m one of them. I can’t remember how we hit it off but all I know was were were 7 years-old in the same class. What followed was a year of girl clubs and several years of possessive friendship (from my side) because she was such a cool person to be around! We wrote letters across the Atlantic for months at a time. We had many sleepovers and spent [her] pocket money on tuckshop treats and midnight feasts. We went through fads like buying stamps, inkpads, magnetic earrings and personalised stationery. We spent hours and hours chatting on each other’s beds. We indulged in many birthday peppermint crisp puddings. We played dolls together, baked together, mixed shampoos together and climbed avo trees together.

 

Our friendship saw us through our formative years, our teen years, our varsity years and different continents, our married years and our baby years. Not once did we ever lose touch. We wrote and Skyped when separated by ocean. We went on walks and drank copious cups of tea when we were together.

She reminded me that as children, we used talk about living next door to each other. A life on the same continent seemed like a stretch when I watched her walk through the doors to her one-way flight to America for college. We kept up via Skype for 4 years.

But the Lord was not done with our friendship. In 2011, she flew back and we went on a short beach getaway. She told me all about this guy she’d fallen for. I knew that was it. She had never spoken about a guy before. I also thought she’d kiss the sandy beaches of South Africa goodbye for good. But, despite a ring on her finger, she came back the next year for my wedding. Me, newly married, and her wedding date moved to earlier in the year, I didn’t think we could afford to get to the US. But seven days before we planned to fly, we got our visa and bought our tickets. (That’s a story for another post!!)

Later in August 2012, she moved back here with her husband. They lived here in our small hometown, for two years. During this time, we went for walks together at least once a week. But, according to an agreement she made with her husband, they decided to move back to America – two years here, two years there and then they would decide. I said goodbye to her again, not sure what the next 24 months would hold and where our lives would be at.

One day she called and told me that they were hoping to come back for the summer! I was so excited. Then, she sheepishly asked if they could stay with us!! I was so delighted at the thought of my friend staying in my home for a little over three months, I squealed when she confirmed their plans and woke my sleeping husband.

When the summer came, we shared the house and it was such fun. We alternated cooking and often sat around the dinner table despite pressing work and enjoyed chatting about our days. When the summer ended, they went back to the States.

 

“A time to be born…” Ecclesiates 3:2a

 

One day, she called me after I got home from teaching. I knew.

She was pregnant.

I wished I was too.

Two months later, I Skyped to tell her the same news. Across the oceans we shared our pregnancies over a small webcams that, only when standing a few metres, could we fit in views of our growing bellies. As her due date approached, so did her date of return to South Africa! And they had an idea.

 

“A time to build…” Ecclesiastes 3:3b

 

They planned to build a tiny house on a 9m truck trailer!!

When I saw the plans, I thought that they were ambitious – no, crazy! It was minute!

But with their crazy ideas and a brand new baby, they touched down on South African soil and set to work. They then decided to include us in their ambitious plans and realise the dream. 6 months after the work on the tiny house was complete, we cut off a section of our palisade and watched a 4×4 move the tiny house down our driveway and onto the terrace below so that we would literally be next door neighbours.

God has a fun way of realising dreams sometimes!

And that, people, is how two best friends came to live on the same property.

 

The last two and a bit years, we have done life together. We have not just lived behind the same gate. We have started to doing life together. We saw each other often as the cars were parked close to each other. But living on the same property allows for spontaneous cups of tea because our husbands weren’t home and arsenic hour hit. It allowed for impulsive pool days when the heat was unbearable. It lent itself to playdates on the jungle gym because both kids were outside at the same time.

 

Raising kids in the same space did not come without it’s challenges. Steph is The “Yes” Mom (she wrote the blog post) and I am The “No” Mom. So she was cool with the kids getting filthy. I wasn’t. Dirt is not my thing. But again, God had a plan. He put two completely different, dare I say opposite, parenting styles in metres of each other. And I know that it has caused me to see where I am being too harsh. I would like to say I have grown in ways I would not have otherwise were it not for sharing the same space.

We started to cook for one another so once every two weeks, one family got a free hot meal and a night off. Guys! Literally such a treat! We could go out to Bible study child free thanks to my mom-in-law because she would sit in our house with our kids and had the monitor to their house so she could attend to their son if he woke. And one of my favourite memories was the Sunday night when my friend was overdue with her second. She had hit a low because she thought this baby would never arrive. That night, I woke to the sound of an engine running. I sat up, slapped my husband on the chest and whisper-shouted, “It’s happening! She’s in labour!” I ran to the window and welled up as I saw her husband standing at the car with the lights on. I suddenly felt so blessed to understand the excitement of a baby on the way. (I had C-sections so I missed this!) I ran out in the dead of night to see if they needed us (they had asked us to look after their oldest) and got to see her in the throes of labour. I can’t begin to explain the sheer joy of being able to witness something no one else would!

 

Life was not the same when we had second babies. It became crazy with four schedules to coincide with. Her oldest was very ill for months and the were in quarantine in case. Then her youngest was hospitalised. Then they went to the US for a month’s holiday. Her job got crazy busy.

 

“A time to weep and a time to laugh…” Ecclesiastes 3:4a

 

Then lockdown happened.

It must be said that they were my sanity during lockdown! Without them, a social being like myself would have landed in a mental home in Week 2! Day 1, we sat around a fire together. We started to see each other every day which, as ridiculous as it sounds, was so uncommon since both our second children were born. She drove me to the hospital to get my foot seen to when I broke my toe so the dads could look after the kids. We did the Passover meal together. We had a champagne brunch on Easter Sunday to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. The kids had a joint Easter egg hunt. We had a surprise tea party for her 30th with friends over Zoom. We celebrated the kids’ birthdays and had small parties.

We sang hymns together the first Sunday in lockdown sitting on different terraces (they were in quarantine). We did church together on the landing in our house. Come Dine with Me: Lockdown Edition was a fun (according to her, stressful!!) challenge where each adult had to make a meal from scratch with things they had in their house! The evening then went into entertainment and we did everything from playing Spoons to bobbing for apples (I haven’t cried with laughter like that for a long time!!) We had such fun after the kids went to bed that each week on a Saturday, we started to do our shared meal together. The kids had a “sleepover” which they looked forward to with much anticipation – supper, bath, Daniel Tiger. The adults enjoyed a casual meal after the kids were in bed and chatted for hours or played games.

During the week, we started to know each other’s schedules. After my kids had played by themselves, everyone would be outside for play time. Around 11am we’d start to get ready for lunch. It was the kids’ favourite to have a “snack” (lunch in special lunchboxes) together on the jungle gym as a treat. We started to do “school” for the older kids. The kids did Sunday school together after church.

We got to really know each other.

 

“A time to uproot…” Ecclesiastes 3:2b

 

But there was a murmuring of change in the air. And last week, after many conversations, it happened. They felt the time had come for them to move. So last weekend, we went on a picnic together and watched the kiddies splash around in the stream. The kids enjoyed their final “sleepover”. As we stood on the landing while the big kids watched Daniel Tiger with the dads and the babies slept, she came over to me with a mischievous smile on her face and told me, “So, our dinner is like going to the tuckshop and spending all my pocket money.” I laughed way too loudly! We clinked glasses together to “The Botha Ebert Estate”. We enjoyed our final splurge meal together and chatted in the candlelit room until we were all sinking lower into the couches with tiredness. We sat around singing “The Steadfast Love” together during Sunday school. We enjoyed our last cup of tea for who knows how long! And the kids took a wheelbarrow ride around the property remembering and talking about all their memories at each spot in the garden.

It was quick. And it was sad. My daughter cried. I didn’t dwell on it because otherwise I would too. We stood on the front lawn as they got ready to climb into an overloaded car and took one last picture. Then we circled together and prayed for one another.

 

“A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…” Ecclesiastes 3:5b

 

Then just like that. We waved them goodbye not knowing when we would next share a meal, a hug or a cup of tea.

But we serve a Lord who knows. And, if doing our lives together so far is anything to go by, God willing, there are many more plans in store for our friendship.

 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

(Who knows? Maybe our kids will get married? – JK!!)

best friends, friends, lockdown, covid, friendship, baby, babies, school, house, home, community, toddler, toddlers, kids, tea, church, Sunday school, dinner, playdate, playdates, yes mom, no, mom, motherhood, tiny house, wedding, married, marriage

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