I’m not always a good friend. In fact, I’m bit of a hot mess.

I have great intentions, but I suck at the follow through sometimes.

I often forget to send promised texts about painter recommendations or that three-ingredient Crock-Pot recipe—and sometimes it takes awhile for me to return a phone call. Your kids will probably eat Goldfish and chicken nuggets when they come to my house, which is usually in a state of disarray with crumbs on the floor and dishes in the sink and baskets of laundry in every room. And I’ll probably be running late because I couldn’t get my dog in the house or my conference call ran over or my daughter’s left soccer cleat is under her bed while her right one sits in her bag.

If you ring my doorbell on a work day, I’ll probably still be in my pajamas—even though I dropped my kids off at school hours earlier. I might cancel plans at the last minute just because I can’t do one more thing in the day—no matter how much I want to see my friends. And chances are the birthday card I purchased a month in advance so I wouldn’t forget will still be sitting on my nightstand three months later.

The excuses are easy when you have little kids. Everyone gets it. I want to say I’ve improved since my children have grown older, but let’s be honest—between my job, three active kids, a husband who travels and a healthy addiction to Netflix, sometimes I fall short.

I’m not proud of this behavior, and I attempt to change it all the time—but if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, well, let’s just say I’d better prepare myself for a fiery afterlife.

But there’s one promise I never break to my mom friends: when you hit the wall in parenting; when you feel like you can’t go on; when tragedy strikes or life knocks you down or you think no one else in the world understands—I am there for you.

I solemnly swear I will always have a couch, an ear, and an endless supply of coffee and wine when you need it.

Because parenting is hard—life is just so hard—and there are too many obstacles we face. We shouldn’t have to go it alone.

I make this promise without hesitation because I know you’ll do—have done—the same for me.

I don’t care if you just need to vent about your husband or cry about your child’s health challenges. It doesn’t matter if it’s something little like your daughter not making a team or you burned some expensive steak. I will listen when you’re exhausted or feeling insecure or like you just can’t be around your kids for one more second.

Mom friends know it’s not a competition about who has it harder; we understand we survive only by supporting one another.

I have sat in dimly lit living rooms listening to gut wrenching bullying stories about friends’ children I love as my own. I held my friend’s hand as we drank wine from a box in her kitchen and she told me her cancer returned. I’ve sat on a dirty floor and cried with a friend who had a miscarriage and provided refuge on my patio for a mom who just needed to get the heck out of her house for 10 minutes.

I’m not always a good friend, but I know what it’s like to be a mom unraveling at the seams. And no matter how messy my house is, no matter what I look like, no matter how tired I am, my door is open for my friends when their seams come undone, too.

Life sometimes runs like the tides—times when one friend may have more hours in the day for phone calls and dinner plans and another for carpools and playdates. Just like the tides, my friendships have ebbs and flows, too.

But my promise to my mom friends to be there when it matters? That’s something I’ll never break.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a communications consultant, and blogger. She tries to dispel the myth of being a typical suburban mom although she is often driving her minivan to soccer practices and attending PTA meetings. She writes about parenting, relationships, and w(h)ine on her blog Playdates on Fridays.