I can’t even tell you how happy I am to introduce you to my friend Melanie Shankle, aka Big Mama. I’ll spare you the boring details of how we met, suffice to say it involved much laughter (and a little wine) and an instant realization that she is my kind of people. She is an expert at finding the humor in the little things, and most days I can hardly wait to read her daily post over my morning cup of coffee.
She just released her third book, Nobody’s Cuter than You, a memoir about the beauty of friendship. If you’ve read either of her first two New York Times bestselling books, Sparkly Green Earrings (about motherhood) or The Antelope in the Living Room (about marriage), you already know that she’s the real deal–funny, insightful, and not afraid to laugh at herself–and this one is a must read!
This a guest post from Melanie Shankle of The Big Mama Blog
A few months ago my daughter, Caroline, curled up next to me on the couch after a day of school that had left her tired and frustrated. She began to tell me about some of the girl drama going on in the fifth grade and that she just wasn’t sure who she could trust and who were her real friends. We talked through it and I wiped her tears as she let out a big sigh and said, “I just haven’t met my Gulley yet”.
And it made me want to cry because one of the things I want the most for Caroline to know is the beauty of female friendship and what it adds to our lives. Gulley is my best friend and I’m so thankful that our friendship has set a high bar for my daughter because we need those people who will listen to our stories and hold our hand as we go through heartbreak and joy and figure out all that life throws our way. Those loyal soldiers who will defend us and stand with us when times get hard and it feels like the world is against us. The women we surround ourselves with and know without a doubt that our name and our heart are no safer than on her tongue and in her hands.
We need our friends, but keeping up our friendships can be a challenge when things get busy or life is stressful. Here are 10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Friendships today!
Here’s the thing, it seems that over the last couple of decades we’ve substituted the joy of real friendship with cheap imitations. We settle for community on Facebook and Twitter and through a series of text messages that allow us to communicate with someone without the commitment. We have a tendency to swim in the shallow pool of relationships because we all know that getting deep can equate to being vulnerable. And more often than not, that’s a risk we’re not willing to take. It’s so much easier to just text a few happy face emojis .
So instead we like each other’s beautifully filtered photos on Instagram or Facebook and delude ourselves into believing we have a community.
But here’s my question: Do you really?
Do you have those people that will show up on your doorstep with food and Kleenex when the hard times come? Is there someone in your life that can look into your eyes and ask if you’re okay when they already know you’re not?
Real friendship requires effort. It’s showing up and laughing loud and crying hard. It’s forgiving and loving and giving the benefit of the doubt. It’s a casserole, a carpool pick up, and making sure she knows those cute shoes are now 50% off.
In case you’ve ever wondered how you know if someone is a good friend, I thought this handy list might help you out. Here are some thoughts for you to ponder about friendship—both in looking for a good friend and becoming one. Some of these may be more important than others. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
10 Qualities of a Best Friend
1. She’ll let you borrow her favorite dress, shoes, jacket, or top when you need something cute to wear. Bonus points if she actually says in the dressing room, “I’ll buy this, and then we can both wear it!
2. Your name is safe on her lips. She won’t tell your secrets or say anything behind your back that she wouldn’t say to your face.
3. She won’t tell your embarrassing stories without your permission, and she is always laughing with you, not at you.
4. She’ll wait at least six hours before gently telling you that the person you’re mad at may be right.
5. When you ask, “Can you do me a huge favor?” she answers “YES” before she even knows the rest of the sentence.
6. She forgives you for your PMS moods and occasional general state of grouchiness.
7. She’s there for you when it feels like the whole world has turned upside down and life will never be okay again.
8. Even though she loves Chinese food, she recognizes that you don’t and therefore never suggests it as a restaurant option when the two of you are together.
9. It’s understood that if you’re on a trip together, you share a hotel room. How else are you going to stay up all night talking?
10. On any given day, she’s your sister, therapist, confidante, mother, nurse, chauffeur, hair technician, clothing stylist, nutritionist, and self-help guru who proclaims that you are good enough, kind enough, and doggone it, people like you. Otherwise known as declaring, “Nobody’s cuter than you!”
We all need that type of friend in our life. They serve as a mirror that allows us the gift of seeing the better version of ourselves. And on a day when our jeans feel too tight and our chins have decided to embrace hormone-related acne reminiscent of our teen years and our kids have tested the limits of our sanity, a best friend will be there to help cheer us on until we get to the other side.
(Check out more cute printables from Melanie’s book here)
Melanie Shankle is the New York Times Bestselling author of Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room, as well as her latest book, Nobody’s Cuter than You. She writes daily on her blog, Big Mama, and is also a regular contributor to The Pioneer Woman blog. Melanie lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband Perry and daughter Caroline.