How Friends Have Made Me a Better Mom

Sometimes the sisterly thing just can’t be explained. At the beginning of the week, Pam asked if I would take a proofread of the post she was planning on sharing the next day and let her know what I thought. I read it was like WHA?? How is it that we have had such similar thoughts on our minds at the same time?!? It’s that sister thing! It’s actually not the first time this has happened…almost gives me the shivers…in a good way. We really do have a cool connection…in this case, the ideas I had been mulling in my brain kinda more complimented Pam’s post. I hope you can read it as a sort of add-on to what she shared this week on parenting. PS I loved what Pam brought so much back to mind! Those early days of parenting were so much more manageable and FUN because Pam and I were going through so much of the same thing at the same time!

With Lexi graduating, I have been reflecting on how we’ve found ourselves  here… It REALLY does feel like the blink of an eye!  I’ve pondered what are the things/people who have helped me over the years in my role as a mother?  Well…besides the fact that I seriously married up and my kids have a dad who has always had a desire to be fully engaged in the parenting thing.  Truly, that makes such a huge difference. But beyond that, it has been community. Having friends in ALL stages of life who have spoken into my life….in all areas…of course, parenting is a huge one, but also it has translated into many other areas: personally, physically, spiritually…the whole thing.

Having a community of women has helped me more than I can adequately describe. But I’m going to try! If I were to break this “community” down, it would look like this:

1. Women ahead of me in the game. Having friendships with moms that are older than me is so SO valuable. It is easy to get fully entrenched and (maybe?) a little obsessive about things our kids are going through at a given time. And sometimes what we need is a huge dose of perspective. Oh man, I remember when Lexi decided to fully pursue volleyball and that meant cutting dance out. Tears. Not her tears but mine. I couldn’t imagine life with this change….at that very time, I thought that there could be no bigger deal happening in the world around me!! Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit (ever so slightly!) but you get the idea. What stands out to me, though, was the encouragement of some moms who had already gone down a similar road…ladies who encouraged me that my job was to support Lexi in her passion. It was about her…not me.   There have also been times that I have shared my uncertainties with these women…beyond parenting…areas personally that I have struggled with.  Having support from moms that are a bit further down the road than me has been incredibly valuable.  They have given me perspective when I have very much needed it. Sometimes pride can get in our way of being transparent with our struggles. I am grateful to have been in the presence of women who have been non-judgemental but still honest with me.

2. Women who are spring chickens!  This is an unexpected one for me. Not that I am hung up on anyone’s age or anything, but maybe I have been secretly delighted when some young, vibrant ladies seem to be ok hanging with me ha!  What I have found is that having these friendships have brought so much value to my life. Besides helping me stay current, it’s been a bridge point between me and my kids.  Things change so rapidly these days with school aged kids. The lingo, what’s “in” and what’s “out”,  acronyms that I have no clue about…but having some younger women in my life has allowed them to maybe take mercy on me and explain some things! More importantly, it has given me the opportunity to ask them questions about what they see from their point of view.  These women have built into my kids.  Lexi has had some volleyball coaches who have taken a genuine interest in her. And followed her along the way.  Nina has had some older girls from dance take an interest in her and form friendships where they have become mentors to her (inadvertently or purposely I’m not sure but wow, so grateful!). The cool thing is that in both of these situations, those mentors have become friends of mine.  And same with Link, he has had some male coaches in his life that have taken time to form a friendship..and that has translated with Scott as well. These bonds are gold. There isn’t a value you can put on GOOD people taking an interest in your kids. I have benefited from this as these friends can again be honest with us in what they see going on in our kids. Their perspective is, quite simply, different than ours. Maybe a little less hindered and more unbiased.  Besides all of this amazing stuff, it’s a joy to have women so full of passion and energy and cool-ness in my life.

3. And of course friends in the same stage of life are LIFE! From the time our kids have been small we have had a core group of friends that have seen the good the bad and the ugly…in all of our families. We have shared the whole spectrum of emotions together. Cried. Laughed.  There just is no replacement for these relationships. It comes down to being able to open your heart wide open and share not only the awesome things in life, but more so the things I’m struggling with. The areas I continue to fall short. My insecurities. Some occasional rants. Times when I have been so low it was scary. Honestly, when I think of these peeps, it’s kinda amazing that they’ve never tired of it all.  They just stick around. Period. Personally, it’s a humbling, beautiful and freaking awesome thing. They love my kids. I love their kids. We’ve got each others backs and…well…that’s true friendship. And sometimes, when you can connect with someone going through the same stage of life with kids there’s is nothing more reassuring than hearing “I totally hear ya”.

So…these pics of my family are a sort of ode to all you friends. Kind of like the Edwards fam “brought to you by”…… brought to you by all of you friends who have helped us along the way. Really, there should be pics of all of you in here too…but there are too many and it wouldn’t be cool (AT ALL) to leave anyone out!

I hope that I never find myself in a spot where I forget the value of having community. In all ages. Each one fills a role and gives me a different way of looking at things.  I hope you all can take a moment to take stock of who you are giving space to in your life. Do you have people who are building into you and supporting/encouraging you? Into your kids? If you don’t have someone who’s ahead of the game in your life, I challenge you to keep your eyes open for someone who could speak some experience into your life. And the same conversely, when you see someone connecting with your kids in a coaching/instructing, etc role don’t be afraid to strike up conversation…you never know what part that person might play in your kids life! And in your life.

xo Laurel

Photos taken by the wonderful  Iulia Agnew xo