Now two friends, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, tell the story of their equally messy and life-affirming Big Friendship in this honest and hilarious book that chronicles their first decade in one another’s lives. As the hosts of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, they’ve become known for frank and intimate conversations. In this book, they bring that energy to their own friendship—its joys and its pitfalls.
An inspiring and entertaining testament to the power of society’s most underappreciated relationship, Big Friendship will invite you to think about how your own bonds are formed, challenged, and preserved. It is a call to value your friendships in all of their complexity. Actively choose them. And, sometimes, fight for them. (less)
I read this book in August and it was amazing so get it. But I don’t want to do a review as much as talk about the one thing it made me think of.
The authors talk about a challenging period in their frendship where they were not getting on and they went for therapy together. Either in the book or in the many podcasts promoting their book I listened to they ask how people resolve conflict in a friendship and the process to get a “friend” therapist a specific type of therapist different from most other relationships.
This made me think of a troubled friendship last year that just fizzled out. We had a misunderstanding – not the first we had in the years of friendship but I suppose we are both moms of little ones now and pressed for time and sleep which probably accelerated it all. And then since then we have just ghosted each other. So this is what the book made me think of:
After all the many fights over the years, why was this the one that finally led to the estragement?
Over the years, were there many “missed” moments where we didn’t see the other and that escalated over time?
Could we ever move past this and if not, what would it look like to formally dissolve the friendship (especially where we have so many friends in common)?
Having thought that, I think the impasse is a resolution because in the past when I have cared, I have formally spoken about it with a friend so this is an answer of sorts.
Talking of love yesterday made me reflect on the type of love I have with my Mr and why it is the perfect love for me/us.
Very early on when we were dating we had a discussion and decided that while we felt we could marry each other we probably needed a longer dating period to confirm this decision. So each year since then, we would discuss whether we were both committed to continuing with each other. Even now on our anniversary dinner, we still ask each other this question as well as reflecting on the past year and dreams for the next.
More than this though was the fact that very early on, he was very clear in his intentions but he also went out of his way to accompany his words with actions. And this meant so much to me especially given the last two people I had liked who couldn’t be bothered with decency. So, our love is thoughtful, not about fireworks but stability – which I have learnt is a value that means so much to me – but it is true to both our characters.
I love podcasts and on my commute to work and back home, I have been catching up on some good episodes this week.
I love Ear Hustle and this week they had a Q&A session, I particularly loved the bit where they went round asking the guys what their prison theme song would be. If this is you first time, the boom boom room is definitely my all-time favourite episode.
This is Uncomfortable, a new podcast I got into was talking about class anxiety. Something that I can definitely associate with. Well, I loved how the lady in question just broke it down in a way that made me think of my own discomfort with money.
Aminatou and Ann also talked about all the money feelings we have. One of their subjects was saying how they sit with a group of their friends and everyone writes down their annual salary, they jumble them up and pick them out say them aloud so even if you do not know who earns that much, you at least know they are in your friendship circle. Mind-blowing, would love to see the same from my friends.
Woman’s Hour talked about period sex – the good, the dirty and freaky J
In this season of late nights and quiet early mornings, of little cries and fussy babies I am learning three truths about God and really reflecting on that.
God the Creator. Throughout the pregnancy I have seen how God creates little beautiful people and the level of care and His great attention to detail. His ways make sense and when you read the Science behind it all, you cannot help but worship Him deeper and love Him even more.
God the Provider.Isaiah 49:15 talks about how just as mother will never forget the child she is breastfeeding so also God will never forget us and will always show us compassion because He has engraved us on the palms of His hands. God knows all the details of our lives and He sees to all our needs from the small to the large. He is our Source and Sustainor.
God is Love. I love my daughter and it sometimes overwhelms me just how much the little lady has captivated us and then I think that God loves me even more than that. That He loved me so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for me. Oh how He loves us!!
What does God mean to you as we approach this Easter season?
Today, I want to focus on my parents and the values they have imparted in me that I admire and hope to replicate with my children.
Their work ethic. My parents inspired my sisters and I to work hard, to be our best and not to be limited by gender, our circumstances or other life setbacks. They themselves came from such humble beginnings and accomplished so much that by their actions and choices, you were inspired to try your best.
Their relationship with money. As far as I know, my parents never bought anything on credit. If they couldn’t save and get it, they did not get it. Also, to save all your money, save even if you have no immediate plans, just save.
Family first. My sisters and I always knew (know) that we were important and that we mattered to them, that they gave us their best and withheld nothing from us. They loved and even, liked us, and we never doubted this. We are our parents best investment and choice and there is something comforting in that.
I love that their parenting style did not require them to compare any of us. To them, we are unique, we are individuals and each success was celebrated on its own and each failure dealt with separately. As a result, all five of us are friends and continue to do the same thing with each other to date.
Faith and the role of God. He is over and above all things, always has and always has been.
Choice. Marry when you want, there is no pressure to marry or in fact conform because we are women. Study what you want at school – whether Physics or Home science. Learn how to slaughter a chicken or change a tyre, just because you are only girls, you still need to know.
I recently went through an exercise to define my top values in life and it made me very reflective because values are something you never think of until someone crosses it then you realise, woah! something is off here.
My faith in God is something that I feel very strongly about and hope that people realise when they meet me. It guides my decisions, my reactions and my feelings through life. I believe in One God, the Father the Almighty, One God in Three Persons, He died and rose again and will return. That God, even when things in life go against this thinking, my prayer is I stand in my belief in God.
Family is very important to me. Loyalty to family, love for family. Enjoying your family. My sisters are truly God’s best gift to me and if we weren’t related, I would still want to know. My folks are the bomb.com. I always say that I would pay good money to live with them for a month some where. With the Mr, the idea is to make our home a home so we both have this enabling and loving environment where we both return to and just want to dwell in and enjoy each other. As you get older and refine your circle of friends, you ostensibly end up with friends that are like family and it is important to cherish those as well and invest in them. Friendship is important.
Serving God and fellow man is another thing of importance to me. If I do not give back to those that are less fortunate, if I am not moved by the plight of those less fortunate than me, then what I have is not worth it. Serving in Church is an expression of my faith and that must be done but I also still delight in that.
Working hard and being my best given my constraints is important. I love to set goals and work towards them and that feeling of meeting them and sometimes even exceeding expectations is so refreshing. I am not so concerned about being the first or the best, but being my best is good enough.
How I work hard is by being resilient. I take stock of the failure or the setbacks and then moving forward. I care about meeting my goals and not giving up when things are tough or not going as well as I expected.
Stability and Freedom that often comes from being educated or being financially stable. Also, from having family or friends do what they say they will, when they will do it. It helps clarify life and make things much simpler for you to really perform at that optimum level. As a worker, I also find that I like the autonomy to make my own decisions and work at my own pace as opposed to being micro-managed.
Fun and Play because you need to refresh, slow down and enjoy the successes otherwise they are useful and you do not perform at your optimum. For me this looks like reading books, listening to music, hanging with friends and family, journaling, watching telly or traveling.
What are your top values? What defines you and makes you unique?
Think of your career as a jungle gym not a ladder and it’s OK to change your mind about your career path, your objective, it’s OK.
Fake it till you make, most of us are.
Find that thing that distinguishes you from everyone else on the team and perfect that.
Show respect to everyone from the most junior to the most senior and do not compromise your personal beliefs for anyone.
Demand respect from all the people you work with and it will follow.
Identify the person at your level that the management loves and replicate what you can of this winning formula. Caution here though, you might not get the same feelings they do but it could help with your overall feedback and perception.
Work is work, give it your best but don’t kill yourself for it. Unless you are self-employed, we are all replaceable.
Listen to feedback and then decide what works best for you and work on improving that.
Trust your instinct when it is time to move on.
Go into each job with a specific goal or lesson that you would like to learn and then compare this with your specific career objectives or goals.
Be the kind of senior that you wish you had at each stage of your career. Ths has meant extra work for me at times but is personally aligned to my core beliefs and so it’s also been a source of great joy.
When something is put aside for more important things.
In my twenties and thirties I have learnt that for some of my friends I have made them priorities where I am a back burner friend. The one who gets cancelled on or is on the second group of wedding invites. Equally, I have some back burner friends too 😦
I read this book over the December holidays and was sooo excited, I am not sure what happened and it’s almost four months later that I am here gushing about it. Urgggh!! Please see below my thoughts under the different themes, page numbers are provided in brackets for you to follow.
This is a book for us women, refugees, blacks (6) and I totally totally agree.
I love that our time in Nairobi overlap – when she returns from Canada. I know all the landmarks she mentions of Nairobi. It felt so good to read a book about a place that I knew and know of so intimately. Double yay!!
I thought it was odd that she kept referring to her folks as Mummy and Baba??? So odd coz those are two different languages in my head and I would have gone with either Mummy and Daddy or Mama and Baba.
I wondered also why she protects the names of her own kids but not Simon’s eldest two. Not sure what that’s about is it maybe that they are adults and the other two are minors?
The things said to them about a male child being preferred to daughters. And how this is often blamed on the mother in a way that gives the husband carte blanche to stray in the name of looking for a son (pp 7 – 27). I know this reality all too well and all I think is Biology lessons are important for all.
It’s so subtle but her talking about not participating in the street games and fights as much as the local kids do coz it could turn on you:
“I had to choose how I would distinguish myself and I knew that it had to be safe.”(9)
The plight of house girls and domestic workers – all too relatable ( 50).
Having read Pumla’s Rape, it resonated with me how she spoke about the incident of being sexually attacked: her response and that of the adults around her (52 -55). Also, in the light of #MeToo, I thought it quite bold that she opened up about this incident.
The urgency for them to receive their citizenship. Yeah, I get that (67 – 68).
I remember the following events but was probably too young to consider their true impact on history: Chris Hani, Mandelas release, the IFP-sponsored murders and the election.
Growing up Foreign
Being called an African monkey. While that did not happen to me, I know about being called a refugee almost as though it was a dirty swear word.
And the rules that their mom had them follow because growing up in another country with parents working full time, there is not a big social infrastructure to support the parents. So rules are key or in young people speak, rules are bae.
“… the immigrant child knows that outside is one thing but home is another country.” (83)
“The immigrant child knows that the key to survival is in the inflection points. … The key to survival is in blending in first, in learning how to be just like else as a first step to freedom. You have to know how the inside works before you can stand outside and make everybody laugh.” (90)
“The immigrant child doesn’t make any noise. … She is preparing for the day when she will have mastered the art of being normal so that she can stand out.” (90)
How she always talks of her sisters, so beautiful and in some way the story is as much about them as it is her. Yay sisterhood.
Being foreign in South Africa has shown me that White ones are still preferred to Black ones. Sad but fact!
On discovering that your mom is not just a role – mom, wife, friend, daughter – but actually a woman with dreams, feelings and thoughts quite apart from me even. GASP, SHOCKING.
How their mom almost became like an older fourth sister but their dad remained a dad. I find this to be the truth with us too.
“To know your mother as an adult is to finally see that she has lived many more years as a woman than you have been alive. To be a grown woman who loves her mother is to understand that it is no easy thing to raise children so beautifully that they don’t worry about you until they are grown up and ready to carry the complex burden of that anxiety.” (304)
Class: I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her nanny especially when they were both pregnant. I thought it was the most honest tale by a middle class Black woman that I could totally relate to.
So please go out, buy the book read, it, share it and enjoy it.
So while in truth I am 32 years, I hardly ever feel that way. I suppose in so many ways I have age dissonance in that, that’s the number I put down but hardly do I look at myself and think, there she is that 32 year old, nah, nope, never. So how old do I feel? Well, I have three secret inner ages.
At this age, I fell in love with Nairobi. I was also deemed old enough to commute to the Library and church and back home unaccompanied. I also loved taking matatus (public service vehicles) and would delight in selecting the hottest one with the best music or the coolest people. I enjoyed feeling like a grown up even in this really small way.
At this age, I felt grown. School got tough but I managed to draw on my inner strength and focus. By this point I had chosen subjects that would pretty much determine what I studied at University and essentially my career. Now I know many people didn’t take it that seriously but I certainly did and saw each of those decisions as a major cog in the life wheel. I also remember the clarity I felt around these decisions, I was so bold and didn’t even for a second second guess myself or my abilities.
I literally felt like I was on top of the world. I had completed my undergrad and felt like the world was my oyster. I jokingly say, I should have rewarded myself with motherhood because thought I was single, this was the only time I felt the need to bear an heiress 🙂 But I felt young enough to be optimistic and experienced enough to have something under my belt.
In truth though, we have friends who have one or two kids, some who are divorced, others have faced miscarriages – all things that I think of as being done by big people. We have gotten married, changed jobs, moved cities and all that but somehow that’s another person not me. Do you sometimes feel that way or is your life aligned to your actual age?