mommy friends

Note to a Mommy Friend

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, and in addition to honoring and thanking the mother figures in my life, I also want to thank my fellow Mommy friends. On my first Mother’s Day in 2008, my older daughter pulled over a cup of hot coffee and sustained burns up and down her left leg. This is a post I wrote to a friend after that happened.

Dear Friend,

Thank you. I was having a terrible week (a week when even a little retail therapy didn’t help) and I called you and blurted out my craziness, my worries, my fears (so much for focusing on the present, I guess) and without a pause or hesitation, you invited me over. We sat at your kitchen table, eating our sandwiches, and I told you about the burn (even though I’d already told you the story two? three? times before). You listened and nodded and supported and agreed and never once offered me advice or pithy statements or trite generalizations. You just let me talk, and when I said I was done talking about it, you said I didn’t have to be, and I guess wasn’t, because I kept talking and you kept listening. And I knew you were really listening, not just using my voice as background noise for your own inner thoughts and ramblings, as we exhausted and overwhelmed mothers often do, despite our best efforts. I felt better.

When I was done talking about it, you talked about your life and your family and children and your ups and downs, and that made me feel better, too. You got me outside of my own brain, where I can get stuck all too often. You told me about the time your baby fell onto the table, and was bleeding from the forehead and you weren’t sure whether or not to go to the emergency room, and the triage nurse wouldn’t tell you what to do over the phone so you ran outside and asked a woman walking by with a stroller. And this woman who didn’t know you, and didn’t know your baby, said that if you have to ask you should probably go and so off you went, packing up the toddler and the baby. And as crazy as the story sounded in the telling, I understood it, I so understood that need to find someone else, anyone else, ANY ADULT WITH A PULSE to tell you that you’re not being totally insane as you try to figure out what the hell to do with this little being that someone somehow decided you were capable of taking care of.

Your baby was fine, and still is fine, but you showed me the scar, the scar that you always see, but I couldn’t see it at all until I leaned way in and squinted and moved aside the soft little eyebrow hairs, and that made me feel better too. I knew that you really do see the scar as much as I couldn’t see it, and that’s what being a mother is all about. Other people look at our children and see Generic Baby, and we may look at their children and see Generic Baby, but when we look at our own children we see all of our hopes and successes and fears and failures. Oh, the failures–every fall and bump and bruise and book left unread and music group missed and temper lost, all wrapped up in this little person that we somehow manage to love beyond all reason.

And somehow that all-encompassing, anxiety-inducing, mind-warping, brain-melting love gets us up out of bed every morning for another day of poop and screaming and tears and spilled coffee, and it feels like the best, most important thing we’ve ever done or will ever do.

Anyway, thanks. Let’s hang out again soon.

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Carla Naumburg

Carla Naumburg, PhD, is a clinical social worker and writer. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post,The Huffington Post,,, The Jewish Daily Forward, and Psychology Today. She is the author of two books, Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters (Parallax, 2014) and Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness with Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family (New Harbinger, 2015). Carla grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Bay Area of California, and she currently lives outside of Boston with her husband and two young daughters. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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