By Sophie Hudson a.k.a Boo Mama
I guess, if I’m honest, I thought that my friendships would hit their peak in college.
And really, it would have been fine if they had. Within just a few weeks of arriving at State my freshman year, I felt like I’d known my new friends for a lifetime. College tends to breed an almost-instant level of familiarity, and by diggity, we had it. I’d barely broken in that fall’s sassy new lace-up boots (Mama bought them at McRae’s, of course) before I was spending my weekends in new-to-me Mississippi towns and meeting the families of girls who’d become like sisters in near-record time.
By the end of four years of college with those same girls, plus a few others I met along the way, our hearts were so inextricably connected that it was impossible to know where one ended and the other began. We knew each other’s stories, we knew each other’s grandparents, we knew each other’s secrets, and we knew each other’s quirks. We knew who could recite entire scenes from Coal Miner’s Daughter, who could sleep like it was her job, who liked to twirl her hair while she daydreamed, and who we probably wouldn’t call in a medical emergency because she got weak-kneed at the sight of a paper cut.
Our relationships weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they were chock-full-of-grace. More than anything else, I think, I remember feeling so supported—whether I was stressed out by essay deadlines, driving home more often than normal because I missed my family, or maybe even hibernating for the better part of a semester in the wake of a particularly difficult course.
Through every single phase, I knew that I was loved unconditionally. It was a gift that means even more to me now than it did back then.
So when our time at college came to a close, I assumed—as everyone packed up and moved away and started the adventure of real life—that we’d never be that close again. I figured we might see each other and reminisce every four or five years, but everybody would move on and find new people to fill the void of what we left behind in Starkville.
I’m so happy that I was wrong.
Because what I couldn’t have known at the time was that our best friendship days were ahead of us. You think you love your friends when you’re single and eating fried chicken at 2 in the morning and watching Urban Cowboy for the 42nd time while you talk about how much you need to study. But what I’ve found is that the years after college—years filled with joy and sadness and marriages and heartaches and babies and everything in between—those years only serve to strengthen the ties that bind.
And that’s one of many reasons why I can’t make it through Mother’s Day without getting teary-eyed a few times. Because while yes, Mother’s Day absolutely reminds me of the women in my family who have loved me and cared for me and encouraged me for, well, my whole life, it also reminds me of the friends who have inspired and spurred me on as a mama. I mean, certainly you need good friends when you’re in college and trying to decide whether you should wear stirrup pants or acid-washed jeans (maybe that was, um, more of a late-80s problem), you need them almost desperately when you’re face-to-face with a beautiful, angel-faced newborn who has made it his or her personal mission to see that you never, ever sleep again.
Or a willful toddler who has left you convinced that you will never again enjoy a meal in a public setting.
Or a stubborn teenager whose organizational system for clean laundry consists of throwing it all in a pile.
Or a gorgeous bride-to-be who was all pigtails and skinned knees just last week—but is now living, breathing proof that the days are long and the years are short.
It’s so tempting sometimes to think that we should just buck up and plow our way through motherhood on our own. However, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” I’m so grateful for the blessing of women who lift each other up as wives and mamas, women who offer their time, their Kleenex, their wisdom, and occasionally even their homemade baked goods to be an “iron sharpens iron” kind of friend.
I thought we had it good in college. And we did. But what I know now is that that there’s a wealth and depth of relational reward that comes from linking arms and navigating the uncharted territory of motherhood together. It’s such a gift, y’all. And now, if someone asks me what advice I might offer a young mom, the answer is oh-so-clear to me:
Hold tight to your people. Because you’re going to need each other.
Well, and I’d also add one more thing.
Don’t stress out over that potty training business.
But that’s probably a discussion for another time.
BooMama is an MSU graduate, a former teacher, a much followed blogger, and the author of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet and Home is Where My People Are. Follow her at BooMama.net.