I used to think the greatest friend was the one who would sit with me and engage in lengthy conversation about the trenches of motherhood. We’d talk about the days when the kids didn’t nap and the days when it rained and we were stuck inside, left to entertain the kids all day long. We’d talk about the lack of sleep we’d gotten the night before and the challenge of coming up with an idea for supper that the kids will eat and not throw on the floor. We’d talk about the way the baby doesn’t sleep through the night and how the toddler never stops talking … ever.
And you know what? For a long time, that was the kind of friend I looked for– someone who could relate to the challenges of motherhood I was facing. But here’s the thing: I would sit and chat with that friend all morning and leave feeling even more downcast than when I first sat down. The negative banter didn’t leave me feeling as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders; rather, it left me feeling as though the trenches were never going to end. I would think to myself, “This is it. This is my life for the next ten years. This is what raising small kids is like.”
This, my friends, is a dangerous mental space to dwell in. I do not deny for a second that raising small kids is tough, or that as moms, we need a space where we can cry, let out frustration, and share our struggles with other moms who might be facing the same challenges. I do, however, know I would never want to sit with a friend all morning, only to have her leave feeling even more hopeless and downcast than before we’d met. I want to be a friend who encourages and helps others to see the light beyond the trenches – to remind them that it doesn’t end here and that there is beauty to be found right here, right now, in the trenches. I want to be a witness to that beauty, to share that I myself have found it and she too, can find it.
Lately, I have begun to recognize the importance of having what I like to call “dreamer friends.” These are people who challenge me to be– get this– not a better mom, but a better woman. Sometimes I forget I am a person, a woman, first. “Mother” is one of my highest callings in this lifetime, absolutely, but I am a woman first– a woman who has her own thoughts, desires, gifts, and hopes for the future. Heck, even in Psalms we read, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act.” (Psalms 37:5) God, Himself wants us to have dreams and hopes that reach beyond the struggles of today. He even promises to fulfill our desires when we find our delight in him! When my days are comprised only of my duties as a wife and a mother, I find I lose sight of the very things that make me the woman, wife, and mother God created me to be. How isolating it can be, to believe you are only alive to care for the needs of others. Mama, you are so much more than this and your life has so much more value than you realize.
It is impossible to save someone who is drowning when you, yourself are drowning. Today, I encourage you to not only seek out those women around you who challenge you and encourage you to pursue the things you love to do or love to create or love to learn about, but to also be that dreamer friend to someone else. It’s easy to find a Negative Nelly to share life with; it is so much harder to find someone who will bring out the very best in you. But let’s be honest, the journey is a lot more hope and joy-filled alongside a dreamer friend.