Just last Saturday, I saw my dear friend’s new house for the first time.
While our families connected over waffles and mimosas, I helped myself to a tour of my friend’s new space. As I went room by room, I couldn’t fight back the tears welling up in my eyes. This house was made for her. It felt like her, it looked like her. At that moment, I felt so much gratitude on my friend’s behalf for the perfect gift she received in getting to live in this home.
I walked downstairs feeling a bit crazy for getting weepy over my friend’s house, and I told her how much I loved it. Her response: “You have no idea how good it feels to have a friend who knows my heart well enough to recognize this as a gift and celebrate with me.” Then it was back to waffles and parenting, talking over the kids playing, changing whoever’s diaper needed it. You know, our norm.
This friendship started just over two years ago. I was pregnant with my third child, and I had just moved to a new neighborhood and was cutting back hours at work. I was more than a bit lonely. I was lonely and busy with raising little humans. The thought of making new friends was daunting. The ways I knew to connect with friends before didn’t work now: no happy hours together, no late nights around the campfire, no coffee dates across the table from one another. What little margin I have in my schedule is reserved for my marriage and basic self-care, to be honest.
The only way friendship could really work in this season is if it happened at the same time as motherhood. I needed women around me who would ask about the state of my marriage while I changed the fifth dirty diaper of the morning. I needed women around me who would help me be a great wife and mom while my husband worked long hours at two jobs. I needed women around me who could problem-solve while babies whimpered as they’re bounced to sleep and toddlers banged toy trains together. I needed friends—real, true friends—who would meet me in the middle of my motherhood, not outside of it.
When you want this unicorn of a mom’s group, sometimes you have to create the unicorn of a mom’s group. It mattered enough to me in this season to mom well AND friend well, so I went for it. One evening, I posted an invite on Facebook, opening my home for coffee on Friday mornings, kids included. The only stipulation: We don’t talk about our kids’ milestones or ask for sippy cup recommendations. We talk about our hearts and the things we’re learning. We focus on growing together. After all, time is limited, and pediatrician appointments and Amazon reviews exist for the first two mom needs. Having someone who deeply knows and loves you well as a friend can only happen when you learn to ask great questions, listen well, and share openly.
Several women showed up for week one. A few less showed up the second time. After a few weeks, a group of five women settled in, along with a combined nine kids. (Now thirteen!) We meet biweekly for several hours in the morning.
We put babies to nap in cribs, we change diapers non-stop, and we discipline toddlers in the midst of conversation. Sometimes it’s our own kids we’re parenting, but sometimes it’s each other’s. Whatever it takes, we’re in it together. The trust in our friendship is a beautiful thing. Toys are splattered all over the floor, snacks and sippy cups shared, a pot of coffee poured into cups and reheated in the microwave over and over. During all of this, we’ve prayed for expectant mothers, we’ve talked about sex post-baby, we’ve recommended podcasts and positive parenting strategies, we’ve played out arguments with our spouses and asked for feedback, and we’ve talked in detail about the ways motherhood has been a struggle and an absolute blessing all at the same time.
Several times over the last two years, the most difficult two years of my life, these women, this ragtag mom tribe, got me through. They encouraged me when I needed it most, challenged me to think and act differently when necessary, and laughed with me until tears came rolling down our cheeks. I know the same is true for the other women in our group. It’s why my friend and I cried together over the gift of her new home. Because it wasn’t about the perfect layout and design (although, seriously it’s amazing for her), but because I’ve ordered pizza at the park for all of us so she didn’t have to return to her too-small apartment the day after a housing contract fell through. I’ve seen her son run to my backyard to play in the grass and saw her face fall at how much a little green space would bless her. I’ve prayed for her to be in perfect agreement with her husband on where to live and when to move. And here it was, a physical gift that wonderfully reflects the beauty of real friendship in real-time. Motherhood and friendship, all at once.
Open your door. Send an invite. Don’t worry about the mess and don’t wear makeup. Leave pajamas on kids and spray the bug spray on thick to send the kids to the backyard. But find your mom tribe: the women who will genuinely know your heart and get you through tough seasons in ways you didn’t imagine possible. Motherhood and friendship, both.