Moms need friends, too

I'm having one of those days.  You know, one of those "kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck fantastic" types of day (ironically a quote from "Friends").

Coming off of a week that started out with someone not wanting to wear the Batman costume he just had to have for Halloween, a week where "the naughty one" finally had to visit the principal's office, a week of making phone calls and sending e-mails about the one who won't eat "real food," a week of trying to get the baby to take a nap longer than five minutes and also remember how he was sleeping through the night.  A week where the laundry piled so high in my laundry room that  - literally - I could not see out the window of said room.  A week of finding candy wrappers under couches and ball point pen on EVERYTHING including a pair of my shoes - the darling, splurge pair of leopard print flats that goes with everything.

I mean, come on...that was the last straw.

A week where I have felt like I am drowning and no one will throw me a life preserver.  My stress level was already through the roof, when this morning my six year old decided to be what can only be described as a little shit.

He refused to get dressed for school, he tormented his little brother before he even emerged sleepily from his room, he was banging measuring cups together when he knew the baby was still sleeping, and the piece de resistance, he threw his winter coat back at me and said he wasn't wearing it!

Okay, maybe a BIG SHIT!

And that's when I lost it - screaming, yelling, threatening, punishing (anyone want to go to a hockey game with us this weekend because we'll have one extra ticket). Then, the seven-year-old started making unnecessary comments, and I told him to 'shut up.'  It just snowballed and snowballed and by the time they got out of the car at school, I was near tears and not having lunch with my boys after all (if they were going to treat me like that!).  The seven-year-old was crying, and the six-year-old was saying he didn't care and pouting.  I drove away feeling horrible they had to start the day that way, feeling horrible that the baby had to sit there and listen to me scream and yell, feeling horrible that every time someone is naughty in my house, I miss Joey so much that it tears a new hole in my heart.  But mostly feeling so horrible that I am the worst mother in the world!!!!!

Enter...the girlfriends.  After talking to two friends for 40 minutes apiece and hearing about their weeks and their tirades, I don't feel so bad.

Because - it happens.  That's motherhood, that's feeling like everything is coming at you all at once and you are struggling to keep your head above water.  That's no sleep, no exercise, no time for ourselves.  That's junk food for lunch and kids who are flawed and a life that is so unlike a happy Fisher-Price commercial.  It's what I signed up for, it's what I begged for as I was enduring fertility treatments and medical procedures and needles and so many blood draws I lost count.  It's what I dreamed about all through my twenties while searching for just the perfect man with whom I could have just the perfect life.

So, yeah, it's like that.

But, I need my girlfriends to remind me that it's also okay.

There was a time in my life when I thought I didn't need girlfriends, when I purposely distanced myself from them.  For whatever reasons that I thought were valid at the time, I avoided my 'friends' and kept women I didn't know at arms-length.  Whether it was because I had been hurt in past, or didn't want to be judged, or knew I would only live in a certain city for two years, or didn't think I was good enough to be part of a certain social circle, I stayed away.

And it was lonely. 

And it made me judge myself more harshly because I was trying to live up to a standard that I had set for myself by watching other women from a far.  The standard that I had created in just an hour at a Gymboree class, or by catching a glimpse of women having lunch together, or seeing the perfectly coiffed mom sitting in front of me at church with her darling, well-behaved children all in a row beside her.  And never knowing what the real truth was.

Then slowly, because Fate and Facebook intervened, I learned what it was like to have friends again and what their truths were.  Reconnecting with old friends via Facebook has been great, for the most part.  You read in their statuses that all moms have bad days or SNAFUs, and hey, who wants to meet for Happy Hour after the husbands get home? Because of Facebook, a friend I had distanced myself from long ago from is now back in my life.  The reasons for our seven year absence from one another aren't important; only the reasons I am rediscovering that made us such great friends in the first place - our commonalities, our empathy, our willingness to listen, the fun we have together, and now the love we have for each other's kids.  We laughed this morning and said so many, "Yes!  Exactly!s" as we each described our week and how we both felt like we had screwed up the mom job over and over.

Fate brought me to the next friend who called me this morning - a woman who can only be described as a friend to all, but who makes each feel specially loved.  She didn't even know me when Joey was diagnosed, but she worked her way into my life with her compassion and caring.  She has five children as well, and her husband just had a medical scare, so now more than ever, she just "gets it."  She laughed as she described similar situations with her sons and daughter and said, "Oh, Kathy, you are so normal!!"

Even the preschool teachers, who have known me for five years, laughed and said they wouldn't tell anyone if I came back to pick-up smelling of alcohol (which I would never, but for the record, sooo tempted right now).

It is said that 'friends are the mirror reflecting the truth of who we are.'  I think that quote is all about picking the right friends.  And when I distanced myself from those women, it was distancing myself from the judgemental, insecure, critical "mean girls."  And also being scared to take a chance that a certain new friend might not be like that. 

As women, we need our friends for so many reasons.  For me today it was because "a friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."  I needed my friends, who love me because I am a good person, to remind me of that.  And that they have those days and moments too, and I shouldn't judge myself because no one else is judging me.

Not my friends, at least.

In the end, I feel much better than I did this morning or even seven years ago when I was distancing myself from friendships with other women.  Because, really, the saying is true: "Friends are like bras: close to your heart, and there for support."

Yeah, it's like that.

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