Friendship, at it’s core, is unconditional love. It’s loving with no judgement. In your best moments and in your worst. Someone to share life with. Friendship is a gift that we give to ourselves; when we open our heart to it. Friendship is a gift we give to others; when we show them that love and compassion with no boundaries.
I always knew that I wanted a big family. And when I say big, I mean big. Like 18 kids big. Or 20 kids big. I wanted all of that love, chaos, and connection.
Before I was a mom, it was so much easier to see the blessing of a big family. I oohed and aahed over all of the new babies at church, begging to hold them. One of my favorite things to do was to babysit. I thought it was the greatest to play with a handful of kids for several hours, and then get paid on top of it. Dream job. Whenever I needed work, I searched for something to do with kids. Daycare, nanny, babysitting.
Fast forward several years; I have four kids and I recently found out that I am expecting my fifth.
She came over. Even though I had written and deleted many messages telling her to not. I’m too tired, one of the kids is sick.. the multiple excuses played through my head. How can I get out of this? But here she is, sitting on the couch. I’m in my well loved green armchair, hiding my face against my baby. The sobs rack my body, I feel as though my heart is being broken in two. I feel nauseous – is it words that need to be released from my body so violently? I am me, and yet I am not me. This part of me that I don’t want to acknowledge – it’s forcing its way out. It can’t continue to stay inside of me and consume my every thought.
She listens. I empty my heart to her, these darkest fears that hold me so tightly. I always wanted a big family, and this is what I have. My whole identity is wrapped in motherhood. In being a mom, but more than that to love being a mom. And now? Now what? This baby that is so small in my belly, this precious life that God has allowed me the responsibility of growing, and I don’t want it. My hands feel so full, my body not my own. I am tired of these years of not knowing who I am. Of not being me. The hormones seem so unpredictable and I can’t seem to find my way out of the storm. I feel as though I get a moment of peace, only for the next wind of pregnancy to topple me over again. Me, the real me, wants many children. And yet in this moment, what feels so real is that I’m not ready for another pregnancy. And I hate myself for feeling this way. For not happily accepting another gift from above.
She questions me. What feels harder right now, to miscarry or to be pregnant? I whisper be pregnant. I tell myself this is the wrong answer. And yet she continues why is that the wrong answer? Why do you need to be happy? Because! I want to shout. Because a good mom always wants another baby. A good mom loves all of her children, unconditionally.
And this is what it comes down to, does it not? These preconceived notions of what a good mom does or doesn’t do. How often we fall short of our own expectations; how often we can’t even see the expectations we have set for ourselves. They simply feel like fact.
She holds space. In this living room, with the kids chaos continuing around us, she holds space for me. Space for these ugly feelings that I have feared and held inside to be set free. For me to see that they are merely thoughts, they aren’t me. That even good moms don’t always feel like they can handle their lives. And in this space, I can breathe. They have loosened their hold on me, and I feel okay. I accept these emotions that are raging through me.
It’s a gift that she gave me that day: unconditional love. She showed me what is possible when I simply accept rather than fight. To lean in rather than to resist. To open up instead of hold inside. To love rather than judge.
This is the gift of friendship.