I slumped down in my chair and shook my head in disbelief.
How could this be? My mind flooded with all the irrational reasons this couldn’t be happening. She’s only 35. She’s the mother of three. She’s my friend.
I remember a time when I didn't understand the value of a good friend. As a new mom, I was happily consumed with motherhood. Sure I had friends, but they were more like acquaintances than true friends. That was fine with me. After all, once you’re a wife and mother, your priorities change. I had my husband and my mom. I didn't need more friends. But sometimes God gives us what we need -- even before we realize we need it.
When my first baby was a year old, I made the decision to quit my job and become a full-time mom. I loved being home with my daughter, but wished she could interact with other kids. I wanted her to learn how to share, make new friends, and have fun. I decided to start a moms’ group.
I was excited about the possibilities, but nervous about the unknown. What if no other moms wanted to join? Worse yet, what if the moms that joined weren’t a good fit with my personality? Soon I was convinced I’d either be the leader of a one-woman moms’ group, or I’d be spending playgroups with a room full of cigar-smoking, tobacco-spitting moms.
One by one, other moms in our small community joined the group. Each week we gathered our little ones for playgroups, park days, or trips to the zoo. We pushed our babies in swings and shared our joys and frustrations of the day. We chased busy toddlers and laughed at how drastically our lives had changed since we became moms.
Even my husband appreciated the group. I’m not sure he fully understood how a few hours of eating munchies and playing games transformed his tired, grumpy wife into a pleasant woman, but he knew it worked. One night of laughter with friends always gave me the extra boost I needed to tackle life’s troubles.
But kids grow up quickly and these days many of us are caught up in the typical busyness of life with tween-agers. Our schedules are packed with football games, piano lessons, softball practices, band concerts, and dance recitals. But we still carve out time to keep in touch.
Staying in touch looks different every time we get together. Recently, we hosted a “pink party” for our friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. As lunch drew to a close, one of the moms spotted a picture of my kids.
“I know.” I smiled, admiring my three little ladies. “When our group first began, Emily couldn’t even walk. Now she’s in junior high.”
I sat quietly for a while and observed the camaraderie around the kitchen table. Every mom in unity dressed in pink, sharing laughter and the occasional tear, sipping our pink lemonade and supporting our friend during the biggest fight of her life.
This is true friendship, I thought. When you’re struggling, there’s someone to strengthen you. And when you’re rejoicing, there’s someone to celebrate with you.
It’s easy to see how our kids have grown, but over the years, we moms have grown as well. We’ve grown closer. We’ve grown wiser. We’ve grown stronger.
Being part of a moms’ group taught my kids many great lessons in their early years of life. They learned how to share and how to make friends. They discovered that having a good friend is not only fun, but an important way to face life’s challenges.
When I think back to those morning playgroups and summer days at the park, I realize my daughter wasn’t the only one who needed a friend. My heart fills with gratitude because I learned those important lessons as well.