The hardest stage to keep close friendships is literally the one we all need it most. Mom friendships are important while raising children for so many reasons. There are studies on the positive effects of these friendships on mental health. Friendships like these help us find more joy during one of the most challenging seasons of life.

Over the years, I’ve found moms can be some of the loneliest people even though they are constantly surrounded by people—little people.

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I am a mom to three boys ages 14 and under. Motherhood has been the biggest joy of my life while still having its share of challenges.

Many moms feel like they are spread so thin during this stage of life that it’s hard to sustain deeper friendships. This is the time we are wearing many hats, and usually feel like some are dropping. We are harder on ourselves than ever before because there is always so much left undone. There are always things to feel guilty about. For these reasons, we often don’t invest in friendships. We just try to balance those hats as perfectly as we can.

But it’s exhausting.

Many women in this stage forgo friendships, even though they desperately need someone to vent to and talk with. Someone who knows exactly what they are going through.

Someone to say:

“Me, too.”

“Praying for you.”

“You’re doing a great job.”

“I see you.”

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We need to have an individuality that’s not tied into our home and work lives—and this is what friendship brings.

A time to just be yourself with other like-minded people. People who won’t judge you. People who find ways to laugh with you about the things you want to cry about.

We desperately need women to walk hand-and-hand with us through this stage of life.

We need them to find the joy in this stage. We need to be able to bare our hearts to someone not connected with a “hat” we are wearing.

This is the key to joy in mothering: having a tribe—or just one person—who can walk through it with you.

If you are reading this and feel sad that you don’t currently have this kind of friendship, do not beat yourself up. Most people don’t have it. The ones who do are very intentional about it.

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I am spread super thin by running a business, church, the boy’s schoolwork, extracurricular activities, trying to be a great wife, cleaning, cooking, and so much more. I know I am not alone.

I also realize my need for close mom friendships in this time of life.

I schedule time to intentionally connect with my close girlfriends. Whether it is with our families, going out to dinner just us, or taking a walk together, I schedule it into my calendar just like everything else.

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Take that step, mama. Reach out to that friend, get together and share your heart about life. Share the good and the bad. You will go back to your family even more refreshed, more joyful, and feeling more balanced than you ever could trying to hold all of those “hats” equally.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Jehava Brown

Jehava Brown is a mother of 3 boys, and a wife to her college sweetheart. She is a full-time lifestyle blogger with a passion for her friends, family, and is a foodie at heart.