I’ve been an extrovert my entire life.

I make small talk with the cashier at the grocery store. I’ll chat with my Uber driver on the way to the airport. I’ll start a conversation with the dad standing off to the side at a soccer game or the mom sitting alone at the PTA meeting.

I just find it’s easier to get through this life if you’re pleasant.

And because I’m a joiner, I have a diverse circle of mom friends from all walks of life. I think it’s important to open yourself up to different perspectives and life opportunities.

But although I don’t mind idle chit-chat or keeping the conversation going at a school event, as I get older, there is one thing I know for certain:

As the saying goes, “Life is too short for fake cheese or fake friends.”

You see, I’m in the thick of it right now. I have three active teens/tweens, a full-time job, a husband who travels and a high maintenance dog that demands loads of attention. On good days, I’m a hot mess. On bad days, I’m holding it together with duct tape and a prayer.

I want to be a good person, a good friend, but I don’t have time for games. I can’t spend my few free hours on “friends” who only call when they need something or are passive aggressive when we have a misunderstanding. I don’t want to worry about every word that comes out of my mouth or getting judged on my every move. I don’t want to compete with other women, in how we look, or parent, or by the success of our kids.

And I’m just too tired at the end of each day to pretend I’m something I’m not.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I need friends who believe the best of me, even when I’m at my worst; friends who cheer me on every step of a new adventure and cry with me when I shoulder pain; friends who show up with a bottle of wine after a bad day and coffee after a sleepless night.

And true friends who know I will do the same.

I want to be with moms who tell their stories from the trenches, the ones where they talk about struggles in their marriages or their fears for their kids. I love the women who openly share their miracle skin care cream and admit their counters are only clean because they shove their stuff in a drawer. I need to be with people who don’t cringe when I tell them I faced depression or that I constantly struggle with my relationship with one of my daughters.

I want friendships that fill me up, because no one is ever satisfied after eating fake cheese.

And no one is ever satisfied spending time with fake friends.

I’m a lucky girl. I have made—and sustained—friendships that satisfy my hunger for the real. We’ve been through the births of our children and the deaths of some of our parents. We’ve held hands at the funerals of friends and shared teary good byes as we watched moving vans cart our belongings across the country. We’ve cried tears of joy for kids we love as our own reach milestones and shared pizza on evenings when we thought we couldn’t be mothers for one more minute—surviving only because we had each other.

We’ve had hard conversations when honesty—no matter how brutal—was the kindest thing we could offer, and held our tongues when we knew someone needed to rant. We’ve given advice about sex and encouragement when dealing with a difficult mother-in-law. We’ve bared our souls in every way and kept secrets safe from the outside world.

No judgment. No expectations. No animosity. No keeping score. No fake friends. 

Only love, acceptance and a whole lot of laughter.

Life is short, and you never know what tomorrow will bring.

Find friends who fill your life up with joy and support you no matter what.

Just don’t waste one second of it though, by eating fake cheese.

You might also like:

To the Tired Mom in the Middle of the Night

I Don’t Have Many Friends, But I Have True Friendship

My Dear Daughters, Friendship is So Hard

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Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site parentingteensandtweens.com You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.