friendship mothering

Mamas Need Friends Too

11:53 AMHeather



We sat sprawled across the two queen beds in the hotel room, much like our college days, except without a bowl of cookie dough in the middle of us. While we used to gather late at night to discuss social functions and boys we liked, the topic of this conversation had changed with the times. The heartaches and struggles of mothering. The declining health of parents. The activities which seem to keep us all too busy. And, primarily, the loss of a family member, which was the catalyst for this gathering.

Although decades have passed since our days at Baylor, and many months have gone by since we were all together, we picked up right where we left off. And once again, gathered for the profound reason of standing with the one of us whose sister had just died, we found our sacred bond. An intrinsically important need from deep within us, being met in each others' presence. Sisters in Christ. Members of the body who hurt and ache for the other parts when injuries and struggles occur.

And it was a reminder.  The joy and lightness felt by sharing our burdens with one another was an aching reminder.

Mamas need friends too.

Motherhood is oh-so-many-things that I never expected. I could write volumes on the “things nobody tells you,” including how lonely the journey can be. 

When you have a newborn, you huddle like a hermit because of the effort it takes to get out with both the tiny bundle and the incredible load of goods it takes to be prepared for all contingencies. Not to mention, the brief nanosecond of opportunity for an outing, squeezed between feedings and naps.

I can remember when I suddenly found the chance for fellowship in those exhausting infant days. I was never quite sure that I was communicating effectively due to the lack of sleep as I tended to pepper my friends with anxious questions designed to affirm that I was doing this well. Feelings of defeat bubbled just beneath the surface when a mom friend casually mentioned that their newborn was sleeping through the night, or their infant was already sitting up.

In my desperate search for validation during those days of being a rookie mom, walking on wobbly new legs, I let the comparison game get me down.

(This still happens. Because my teenagers are not All American athletes with an 8.7 GPA on a 5.0 scale who build clean water wells in Africa over Spring Break). 

The toddler days were a blur at our house, raising multiple children, juggling various nap times, and bravely venturing out to play dates where every sentence with another grown up was rudely interrupted by the cry of an infant or the whine of a toddler. Moms of Preschoolers (MOPS) served as a chance for connection, although the effort it took to gather my young and get out the door often let me questioning the sanity and value of these outings. Gathering at the park meant constantly watching children while trying to catch up with friends. And mom’s night out was a rare treat that I almost never afforded myself.

In hindsight, the elementary school days may have been the highlight of social interaction with other moms. Sitting while our kids played a sport and we were united in our enthusiastic cheering for the home team. Working together for class parties. Venturing to the city pool, where at long last, all the children could reach in the kiddie pool and the anxiety level finally dialed way down.

The truth that I am living now is that raising teenagers can be a very lonely time for mamas. Our kids are growing and changing and our mom tasks revolve around acting as the Mom Taxi service, which tends to put a kink in connecting with other moms.   

While our kids don’t need our constant supervision, never have I felt such a burden for constant prayer. Parenting as pioneers in the age of technology can feel scary.  The temptations and pitfalls are for real now. No other generation of parents can be tapped for counsel as no other group of parents before us have raised children who had access to iPhones and iPads since they were born.  

The counterfeit connections of social media might be a good starting point for at least the tiniest bit of interaction with other moms. But looking through the filter of social media tends to skew the ability for authenticity in these interactions.

However, if we can use the resources at hand (AKA social media) to actually plan and plot a gathering in person, it is so worth the effort. True that it took a tragic death to gather us in that hotel room. But it served as a reminder that we indeed have a treasure with each other. All the years and all the changes have not stolen the way our hearts were knit together in our college years.

Two weeks ago, I gathered with former co-workers from more than 20 years ago—also precipitated by the death of someone we knew and loved.

And both of these gatherings serve as a gentle reminder, perhaps even a soft scolding.

We mamas need friends, too. The truth is that we already have a treasure of opportunity within our circles, if we just make a little effort. Because other moms are facing the same struggles. The same fears. The same defeats. The same angst. The same hopes and dreams. And the same loneliness.

The five of us sat in our pajamas, diving quickly into hard topics. Daring to be vulnerable with one another about the things our kids are wrestling with, the dreams we fear should be abandoned, the uncertainty of the future for us and our loved ones. And in the tears and the camaraderie and the absolute honesty, we realized something.

All of us wrestle with the loneliness. Driven by the fear to truly share our hearts with those in our day-to-day circles, lest we or our children be judged. Because while we can comment on and tag each other and like one another’s posts, we all wonder if we can actually be real with others. 

We are no longer a culture that gathers around one anothers' tables in a regular rhythm. We no longer take the time to sit long over a cup of coffee, leisurely allowing for the need for connection because instead we are driven by the demanding staccato of tasks and schedules. We no longer make the effort for things like Supper Clubs and porch swings and actual time spent face-to-face, building a well of depth in our relationships that provide us the luxury of authenticity.


And we need it. The truth is that we need it. God designed us for community and connection. One of the most beautiful benefits of being a follower of Christ is belonging to the BODY of Christ. That means that we should all ache and pay attention to any part that is hurting. That means working together in unity to help each other. That means being a picture of diverse people whose only commonality is the Jesus we proclaim, and it is enough. That means bearing each others' burdens. That means comforting one another with the comfort we have received in our own struggles from the God of all compassion. That means loving one another. Forgiving one another. Giving generously to one another. Building one another up. Encouraging one another.

All of which requires being with one another.

Within the world and within the Church, we are hungry for that which we were created for, which is community. We are eager to be loved without condition. With great patience and compassion. With laughter and shared tears. With a resolve that says, when you are ruined by life’s devastation's, I will sit right here with you. I will sit and grief. I will serve and help. I will listen and be silent. I will have your back all the way, not allowing other distractions to deter me from following through on being the support you need.

As moms, we tend to see our friendships as luxuries we just can’t afford in this season of life. The sand in the hourglass is slipping through, faster and faster. As we desperately attempt to mother as well as we can and teach all that is needed before our littles leave the nest. We struggle to find time with our spouse to make our marriage a priority. Who has time for long lunches with friends?

But I was reminded as we laughed till our sides ached, and cried together over freshly revealed heartaches, and huddled in a circle to pray over each other that we actually cannot afford to not make the effort for genuine, Christ honoring friendship.

The body cannot function at optimal capacity when it is disjointed and ignoring the needs of any part of it.

And so, we must be brave. We must be intentional. We must be diligent and bold. To carve out times to be with each other. To put our own agendas aside and love without condition. To courageously give and love with such extravagance that the world sees a beauty among believers that it longs to join. And then we must be quick to welcome them. To be vulnerable and open and honest and transparent.

We moms tend to see times for friendships as being selfish.

We forget that it’s actually an opportunity to be selfless. To divide the heartaches. To multiply the joy. To be the body we were intended to be.

So may we not wait until tragedy strikes. May we not put it off until tomorrow. But today, may we pull out our calendar and find a time and make a phone call. Scheduling some face time with a friend.

Mamas need friends, too. But it takes effort and energy and time.

And it’s an investment that is well worth every sacrifice.

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

1 Corinthians 12:24-26

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