When I was in high school, I found a great group of friends. While I wasn’t “popular”, there were 7 or 8 of us who spent most of our teenager-y lives together: eating lunch, going to dances and football games and movies together, hanging out on the weekends, sleeping over at each other’s houses and just generally having each other’s backs. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I can see how lucky I was to have found my group.
And then, at the end of my junior year, I had a baby. My friends were still amazing and supportive and accepting of me, and we still hung out together often, but in many ways my life was miles apart from theirs, and when we graduated, we drifted apart. We were all going off to college, but I was sticking close to home and living with my mom so that I could raise a baby and go to school at the same time.
For the next 8 years, my close friends were limited. My sister has always been there for me, and of course I dated, and there were people at school and at work that I hung out with while we were there. BUT, they weren’t the types of close friendships I had in high school. Not because I didn’t want friends, but because I was always… separate from other people my age. Because my life was so different from other people my age- school, baby, work instead of school, partying, dating, work- I never really felt like I fit anywhere. By the time I graduated college 4 years later, I had met my husband, gotten married, had a 4 year-old, and was pregnant with my oldest daughter. Hunter started school, and I still didn’t fit- I was much younger than most of the other moms in his class, and I always felt awkward around them.
When Sophia was 3, she started preschool. And once again, I found myself in the middle of this amazing group of women. I don’t know if we were friends because our kids were, or if our friends were kids because we were, but there we were. We spent our days together- having playdates with our kids, working out, going on outings, chatting, laughing, parenting our own children and each other’s and supporting each other through… everything.
Eight years later, we’re still friends. Our lives have changed. Some of us have moved away. We don’t see each other as often. But we still love each other, and every time we get together, we fall right back into each other’s lives exactly where we left off. And, although I've made some really great friends in this new season of my life, I cannot say that I have found a stronger connection than the one I had with these women.
If you’re still reading this, you’re probably wondering what my entire life’s story has to do with this blog post. If so, thanks for hanging in there with me, because I promise, I’m getting there!
Not long ago I was at a baby shower for a friend who is having her first baby, and one of the things the hostess asked the guests to do was write down some advice for the new parents. I'm always really bad at this, because even though there are always lots of things I want to say, I can never think of them in the moment. It's like my mind just goes blank, and I cannot think of a single useful thing that I have learned over the last 16 years of parenting. Which is crazy. Because here I am writing a blog all about my life with kids. Anyway. I can't remember exactly what I put on that card, except that I know I said something about making time to shower. Not bad advice, because you guys, showers are LIFE, especially when you're a new mama, or you have more than one kid, or any kids, really.
But, this weekend, as we closed down the pool on the final day of summer with those same friends we've been hanging with since preschool, I was reminded of possibly the MOST important piece of advice. And if I could write that card over again, I would write this (Shannon, I hope you're reading this, because it's my do-over!):
Look for your group. Your tribe. Your mama friends. I know you have some good ones in other states, but also, find them nearby. Motherhood, it can be lonely. Even with a boyfriend, a husband, a partner, a family there to help you. Because, honestly, no one is going to understand you better than other moms. No one- sorry, dads!- is going to be able to hear you quite like the other women who are walking similar paths through life. It can be hard, oh so hard, to find them. Making mom friends is crazy difficult sometimes, way harder than making friends when you're a kid. But be open. Don't be afraid to start a conversation with another mom you don't know in the middle of a park, a store, the preschool drop-off line. Because when you find them, you'll know, and it will be so WORTH IT. Also, one last thing- 55 Goldfish is roughly equal to 1/2 cup. Trust me, there will come a day when you will need to know this information.