Mommies need Mommy friends. The trial by fire that is motherhood creates a need for moral support from all directions, and it has the potential to forge friendships that are surprisingly close. Over time I have learned that though we may not parent the same way or discipline the same way, we understand the word Mommy. We understand the euphoria of the good moments and the desperation of the tough moments. I will never forget the lovely woman at Trader Joe’s who was waiting for me to load my children into the car so that she could get into hers. I was embarrassed because they were slow, and I couldn’t get them to go faster, and I tried to convince her not to wait for us and to please go ahead. “No honey” she said, “I had four boys, I understand. It’s a hard job sweetheart.” I told her, “I don’t know how you did it.” And she said “oh, I just did it. But sometimes I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. And now when my sons call me because my grandkids are acting out, I just laugh at them.” She wished me well and patiently waited for me to load my nutty kids into the car. That 70-year-old Mommy got it. Though I met her for but a moment, she was my friend.
But in reality, despite the very pleasant encounters from one day to the next, forming close and trusting Mommy friendships, true Mommy friendships, takes time, effort and patience.
You go to the library story-hour. You see a very nice-seeming Mom. You don’t want to seem overly-eager. But you do want to make it clear you’re interested. So after a few encounters you casually inquire, “hey wanna get the kids together some time?” Translation: “Wanna hang out? You seem cool, and we can gab while our kids do some stuff.” Sure, she says.
So you keep things light, and text her one day: HEY HEADING TO THE PARK. COME IF YOU CAN! And she shows. She’s awesome and the kids play. You have a great time. “Let’s do this again” you say nervously. So now what? Do you wait a week? 10 days? Don’t want to be over eager. She texts you: HEY CAN YOU MEET AT THE LIBRARY? HEADED THERE NOW. …YESSSSSS! you rejoice in your head. But you text nonchalantly: WILL TRY TO STOP BY.
And then you show up exactly on time because you had no other plans that morning and you were wondering what the hell to do with that little imp sitting across from you on the floor, but you don’t want her to know that. And that’s where it all starts. And some of the friendships drift apart. And others hold together. But those that hold together through kids, parenting, spouses, preschool, school, and all the rest, can become truly remarkable friendships.
We aren’t all the same, not at all. But the differences just don’t matter. It’s the common bond we share that unites us so powerfully. We all understand what it is to love something with every fiber of our being. We understand what it is to doubt, to question, to resent, to worry, to wonder, to rejoice, to embrace, to wipe tears, cool foreheads, wipe asses, wipe noses, tie shoes, hold hands. The emotional vicissitudes of parenting are universal.
In parenting we see the good, the bad, and the very very ugly. We see the best and the worst in ourselves. I think particularly for mothers, it can be a constant battle in our minds of whether we are doing right or wrong by our children. Our friends give us a hiatus from the battle. They shelter us from ourselves and love us even when we cannot love ourselves. Of course, ideally, our spouses do the same. But we need friends out of the home. Because too much happens in the home.
We need someone to love us unconditionally and to hold our hand through what feels like rock bottom–to hug us in moments of weakness and never hold it against us. We need someone to make us laugh til we cry, to join us in commiserating and to swap war stories. We need friends who encourage our dreams, and even dream with us.
Our mommy friends know us as mothers, as women, as people, as friends. They know us as we truly are.
So let me take this time to say to all my Mommy friends, near and far, (and that means all those ladies whose blogs have made me laugh, cry or simply sit in thoughtfulness): My God. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I learn every day from you. I take mental notes. I am inspired, I am humbled, I am forever grateful. I have learned from every single one of you. And I love you all through all the good, all the bad, all the ugly. Thank you for standing by my side.
Because Mommies need Mommy friends.