I often hear having young kids described as “being in the trenches,” and soldiers often express a camaraderie they feel with other soldiers they are going to battle with. I am blessed to have an incredible group of mom friends I call my “war buddies” because we are raising our kids together. They offer encouragement and serve as the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel as assurance that I won’t always be the haggard mom of littles with bags under her eyes and dried slime in her greasy mom bun.

When we first moved here, I didn’t know a soul. I was a new mom and had no one to talk to because my baby wasn’t much of a conversationalist. I felt incredibly isolated and lonely (which is ironic because you are never actually alone when you have small children).

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I joined a playgroup and met some ladies who would change my life forever. Together, we’ve navigated some of the onerous hurdles of parenthood like the terrible twos and bullying. We’ve celebrated countless milestones and mourned some hard losses together.

We show up for each otherday after day, year after year, crisis after crisis.

It’s fantastic to have someone to confide in where I feel like I can be completely raw and honest about how difficult motherhood is. When my toddler has yet another meltdown and I feel like I may lose my ever-loving mind, I call one of them to vent, and suddenly what seemed insurmountable now seems doable. They don’t judge me for being overwhelmed; instead, they just listen and nod along in recognition. After a trying day with your kids, there’s nothing better than hearing your friend say she relates and understands your pain.

Having people in the same stage of life who can commiserate with my parenting woes is everything. Just yesterday, my middle son did something so seemingly atrocious, I was genuinely worried he’s going to grow up to have a bright future in the penal system, and I was crying out of frustration. My friends talked me down from the ledge and assured me he is not, in fact, a sociopath; he’s just a normal mischievous kid. More often than not, I just need a captive audience of those who know and appreciate my struggle.

Husbands are great and all, but there is a lot they can’t provide.

My female friendships seem to perfectly fill that gap in this challenging season. Motherhood friendships feel like a lifeline that keeps your head above water and your body out of a straitjacket. I’ve come to them countless times to rant or for a shoulder to cry on, and it’s made all the difference in the world. I’ve also used these girls as a sounding board because they offer the best advice.

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If you don’t already have your own war buddies, you need to find some STAT! Believe me when I say, this is crucial to your sanity. Multiple studies have shown how important friendships are to our mental health and well-being during a stressful time like motherhood.

Sometimes you have to create your own sisterhood.

This is not always easy and does take a little courage, but it’s so worth it. That other mama at the park might be just as lonely and will likely welcome a friendly chat. There are tons of online parenting groups that host meetups. Meeting up with new people like this can feel a bit like online dating. Sometimes you have to wade through a few applicants before you find your people. Just because someone is also raising tiny humans does not mean you will instantly click with them but keep putting yourself out there.

Not many people can understand what I am going through, but these ladies get it. These are the days that bond us together, forever. I know when I reflectively look back on my kids’ childhoods, these women and their kids will be a huge part of my memories, and they are a huge part of my heart. I love them dearly and I cannot possibly imagine going through motherhood without them.

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I call them my “mom friends” because we all met because of the fact we are moms, but the truth is, I would choose them as friends whether we were moms together or not. No doubt about it, motherhood is challenging. But I dare say it can be tolerable and even enjoyable if you have someone to navigate the journey with.

Christina Crawford

Christina Crawford has three boys under six whose behavior more closely resembles feral animals than actual human children. The truth is, she spends the majority of her time just keeping these people alive and putting out fires (actual and metaphorical). But mostly, she’s just trying to mitigate the damage to her sanity. Her writing has been featured on Scary Mommy, Sammiches & Psych Meds, and the Ft. Worth Mom's Blog. If you find her misery and misadventures in parenting amusing, you can follow along on Instagram and her blog.