When I became a mother, I quickly realized how incredibly difficult the world of parenting is. I was thrown into a world of diaper blowouts, spit-up, tears and sleepless nights. Thankfully, many things helped me along the way, including lots of prayer and plenty of coffee. (The latter was particularly helpful during those mornings that I felt like I was participating in some sort of cruel experiment to see how long I could survive without sleep.) My mother and mother-in law were also a tremendous help to me, considering they'd traveled that road before.
Parenting is wonderful, but without support, you can easily lose sight of the positive and only see the hard parts. Support is essential, especially when it comes from your friends, and especially when they have kids too. One friend in particular has been an enormous help to me in more ways than one and I'm grateful to have her in my life. I couldn't get through parenting without my best friend, plain and simple.
My best friend has known me since the second grade. We have watched each other grow up, get married, have kids and become adults. We've supported each other even when we didn't live near each other. She accepts me for the stubborn, sarcastic, sensitive, and introverted person that I am. That kind of support, in my experience, has been an essential part of getting through the good and bad parts of parenting.
Sometimes, you need to be able to sit with your best friend over coffee and discuss the stressful world of potty training. You need to be able to vent about weaning, tantrums, and teething. You need to be able to cry about the massive meltdown your child had in public without feeling judged. You need to hear you're not alone in feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and mentally drained.
I love my children with a love that could burn forever, but more often than not, I'm tired. It helps to hear a little encouragement from your best friend, or even just to have her listen to you complain about how tired you are.
I love my children with a love that could burn forever, but more often than not, I'm tired. I'm tired of picking up toys and cooking dinner for tiny tyrants. I'm tired of waking up in the middle of the night to put multiple children back to bed. It helps to hear a little encouragement from your best friend, or even just to have her listen to you complain about how tired you are.
I need my best friend to tell me that she, too, has yelled at her kids before; that she, too, has left a public place embarrassed by her kid's outburst; that she, too, has wondered if she's doing a good enough job. Without that kind of support, how are moms suppose to survive this crazy parenting journey?
I love my husband and I consider him one of my best friends as well, but let's face it: he does not know how to handle me when I'm feeling like a failure as a parent. Yes, he hugs me and tells me that I'm a wonderful mother, but he is not that great at listening to me vent. Instead, he wants to fix it by telling me ways I can improve a given situation. I understand that he's trying to be helpful, but honestly I just want someone to listen sometimes.
If I tell my best friend that I'm feeling like a failure, she is ready and willing to tell me that it's totally normal for me to feel that way, but that I'm actually doing a great job. And that is music to my ears. That's why my best friend tells me exactly what I need to hear: I not only get validation about my feelings, but I also get compassion and just the right amount of advice.
You might think that I'd seek my best friend's advice simply because she tells me what I want to hear, but that's not the case. She never tells me what she thinks I want to hear — in fact, sometimes, she's probably honest to a fault. I truly appreciate that she calls me out on things, because honesty is the cornerstone of our friendship.
My best friend and I get together every week, and last week we had all five of our kids with us. We sat outside surrounded by toys, kids, and, of course, coffee. As I sat on the grass, I watched her throw a baseball to my oldest son, while her son and my other son cheered him on. Her daughter slept soundly through all the cheering and laughing, and my daughter tried to eat rocks while we chased after her. This is going to be a wonderful memory one day, I thought. When our kids are grown-up and out of the house, I'll remember this day, and how days like this helped me be a better mother.
My best friend has made me realize that it's OK to take time for myself and that I don't have to try to be a "perfect" mom all the time. She's been there to cheer me on through my parental successes and encourage me through my many parenting failures. I honestly can't imagine life without her. With every word of encouragement, every thoughtful gesture and every much-needed cup of coffee, she has made parenting just a little easier, and for that I'm forever grateful. I love being a mother and I love being her friend.