Friendship in the Trenches... a Love Letter

Last week, my blog pal of the last 3 (4?) years came to stay at my house for almost a whole week. 
The last few years she has been one of the best parts of blogging. Always so funny, so encouraging, and so interested. I still have no idea why, but she has been one of my most faithful readers and commenters from the beginning. When she finally started her own blog, it was both hilarious and uplifting to read. 

The other best part of blogging for me would be Sarah. She is someone who takes the call of motherhood so seriously and so happily. I mean it when I say I swallowed her archives whole. The three of us needed to find each other's blogs right when we did, I guess, because it was a case of instant blog-crushing at its finest.

When Theresa and I first hatched our plan of the Breslin's staying with us for Homecoming at the Abbey, Sarah's reaction of disappointment that she would definitely be stuck in Charleston (it was the week before her due date for Nolan) made Theresa and I hatch a plan. We ended up texting her husband to get the green light to plan a surprise day trip to bring her a meal, show her a little love, and make her feel part of the fun. Theresa booked a flight for a few days before homecoming, so she and Baby Will could come down early for our Charleston visit.

Of course, Sarah's Baby Nolan decided to come the day Theresa flew in to Charlotte. ;)

Theresa and I stuck to our plan to at least just go down to bring the food we had prepared, and hopefully to say hi for 5 minutes since Rob thought Sarah would want to see us even at the hospital.   

We ARE CRAZY! It was nuts - certifiably - to drive for 8 hours PLUS all the driving time down in Charleston itself with 3 little men, none of whom appreciates forcibly sitting still for more than 10 minutes, and one of whom considers a carseat to be the only thing in life he cannot tolerate... 

But there were some adorable bright spots in all the crazy. 

^ Bromancing without ANY prompting! ^

 It was, to be totally honest, a completely exhausting thing to go down there and back with the little guys. But I knew it was even more so for the jet-lagged mother of a breastfeeding 8 month old sitting in the car with me. And she was so cheerful and fun to be with all day, that everything became an adventure where it might have been a burden.

And then Sarah, of all brand new mothers, actually wanted us to visit before we headed right back. EVEN when I told her I thought my boys should stay in the car with their snotty noses. For an hour, the three of us got to hang out in her apartment - in person! - while the little guys had a blast, and I am still so ashamed that I think my kids used this opportunity to infect Liam with their cold. Sarah, I hope someday you can return the favor; I would gladly accept it. :/

Seriously though - this moment made my heart burst. 

 When I think back to this trip in the future, I think I will remember first Sarah's shocked and excited face - and her new-mother radiance; I will think of the couple of hours Theresa and I passed at this shady playground on the River in Charleston, Brittlebank Park... the air was less humid than I ever can recall it being down there. October breezes blew leaves around us, and the boys were blissful to be out of the car. It was the first time I caved and let my tumble-bumbling Henry waddle his way happily around a playground, and he was in a diaper, shoes, and no pants because of an unfortunate juice incident... and I had that peaceful feeling you get when you suddenly become aware you're making a lasting, lingering memory. Meanwhile, Theresa paced around serenely with her Baby Will snuggled against her in the Moby wrap and helped me corral my sons. Last but not least, when I think back to this trip, I will always remember looking over at Theresa when, at 11:00 pm, 30 minutes away from home, all the babies woke up and the shit hit the fan. It was one of those moments where unless you choose to laugh, you are going to lose it in the opposite way. We started laughing.

It was so awesome to sit there in the front seat with another mother, with the wailing and gnashing of teeth behind us, and to experience the contagiousness of true joy - that thing you can choose no matter what the circumstance. That equilibrium of spirit.

Friendship in motherhood is hard to come by. I'm not talking about the superficial, surface level friendships you make at countless moms groups and playdates. I'm talking about the friendships that grow deep and strong and have the power to change your life. The friendships that urge you to stretch yourself, to aim higher, to listen better, to love harder. It is rare to meet other moms who are in a place to give or receive this kind of friendship.

But with friendship - especially friendship as a grown-up woman and then as a mother - its all about quality over quantity.

God has blessed me these last few years with some incredible women I can call friends. Theresa and Sarah with their stories and encouragement and enthusiasm for the adventures of motherhood; my childhood friend Catherine, who always encourages in me a deep appreciation for cultivating a finer taste for the little, lovely things in life - like drinking coffee out of teacups, watching BBC miniseries' in place of Real Housewives, dieting like Parisians, and working out like ballerinas; my roomie from college whose sense of humor still just makes me LOL, and who is unbelievably good at getting real and being vulnerable; my lifeline of a friend Camille, with her beauty inside and out, her encouragement to me to maintain an identity as a woman EVEN after becoming a mother. Cams was the only mom friend I had nearby during the first year of Will's existence. We decided for ourselves what motherhood would look like on us, and I am so grateful that she to this day helps me out of many an easy rut. 

They have always come at moments that most surprise me... these friendships that blossom from last-minute Girls Night's In over a shared love of a stupid tv show; friendships that grow from Instagram comments and overwhelming kindnesses; old friendships that hang in there and, rather than giving up on you when you go through a season of obliviousness or hardship or self-centeredness (or all of the above) - forgive you and stay to help you grow past it.

I don't share my admiration of these girls to embarrass them, nor to brag about my awesome friend-finding skills ;). I guess I wanted to share because, in the last year alone, these girls have taught me the value and necessity and life-changingness of good, real, grown-up friendship. 

Without these friendships, I don't think I would know what to expect of myself, or how to push myself forward. Without the firsthand examples of these women in my life who are all striving to live life abundantly - I don't think I would keep striving for it myself.

 I certainly don't think I would have the grace to choose joy when things melt down in the backseat.