“I have the perfect solution for those dark circles under your eyes,” the message read. “Kids are exhausting right? I used to blame them for my raccoon eyes, too, but thanks to these products, I look so much better!” The sender went on to say that she just HAD to share her amazing facial products with all her friends.

How strange it was to be called a friend by someone I hadn’t seen or spoken with in more than seven years. In fact, we had never once acknowledged each other outside of the workplace all those years ago. And yet, there I stood, face-to-face with her courtesy of my smart phone.

And that’s just one example of the recent messages I’ve received from old, new, and barely friends. All with the intent of selling me a solution for some perceived problem that I, as an aging woman and mother, could surely benefit from.

There was the message that promised me a solution for all the mood swings involved in being at home with kids all day. “These oils help regulate feelings of anxiety and depression, and they’ll help you to be the mom you want to be!”

And there was the one that promised me a quick weight loss solution. “You’ll see results in just 30 days! No more fluff when swimsuit season arrives!”

And then there was the one that promised storage solutions for all the kid stuff. “You don’t have to be overwhelmed by ALL the toys anymore because you’ll have the perfect place to store them!”

But here’s the thing. I’ve purchased and tried many of these products and not ONE of them has been life changing. Nor have any of them actually been what I needed.

The jar of beauty cream sits nearly untouched in the cabinet drawer. It’s just not a priority when I’m rushing around the house each morning in search of lost shoes and disappearing homework, before changing a last-minute poopy diaper while desperately trying not to be late for school again. And at night? Well, sleep is just so much more important to me than beauty.

The oils smell good, sure, but they provide no solution when the tantrums are in full swing or when my children only communicate by stomping their feet and rolling their eyes or when they suddenly become fountains of vomit and poop.

The shakes and bars do nothing to curb my hunger, therefore causing me to inhale even more chocolate when I manage an escape to my bedroom closet for a minute or two.

And the pretty storage bags and boxes? Not only have they become just one more thing for my children to toss recklessly around the house, but they haven’t managed to put one toy neatly inside, as intended.

What I really need when life is overwhelming? When I am stuck in a cycle of emotional eating? When I am drowning in noise, attitude, and toys? When I’ve sunken into the dark abyss of motherhood? When I am utterly exhausted?

I need a friend. A real friend.

Not someone who points out my flaws and failures for their financial gain. Not someone whose willingness to help me is wrapped up in the exchange of money for goods.

But someone who sits with me in the darkness and the overwhelm, fully aware that there is no solution. Someone who eats gobs of chocolate with me while the kids wreak havoc, because sometimes chocolate is the real solution. Someone who acknowledges and accepts that motherhood is an emotional rollercoaster and that not even the most luxurious scents can stop the wild ride. Someone who cheers on my willingness to wear a swimsuit, despite the rolls that spill out. And maybe, just maybe, someone who is willing to provide respite by providing childcare so I can simply breathe.

There isn’t one solution that is going to put an end to aging or the chaos of motherhood. But the solution to surviving it all? A good friend with nothing to offer me but love and acceptance.

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Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.