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We met on the internet. I knew she was a single mom. I knew she was a writer. I knew she was a boymom. I knew that during a hard time in my life I received a mysterious package in the mail. In the package, a go. shout. love. Shirt that read, “one tough mother.” And I found out later, it was from her. 
We’d never met in person. I’d read her writing enough to know that we’d have a lot in common. I knew we would connect on the boymom thing. I knew we were both tough mothers. 
Because I also knew she’d had a rough year. And I had, too. I had been sick. She’d been through an ugly divorce. But unlike my “hard” I knew that she was going it alone. 
Through a comment on Facebook, we set our first date. A play date for the boys on a weeknight. With pizza. And playing so hard they would just sack out and go to bed at the end of it. Secretly I wanted to meet her because I wanted to become her friend. I wanted her to know that she doesn’t have to feel alone. I wanted her to know that even though our major difference on paper is that I am co-parenting daily with my very loving, kind partner in crime, a husband – and she is  doing it solo – that we can be friends and I can help. 
When she showed, she came bearing pizza and wine and two boys who had coughs. She’d warned and asked about the coughs but having three kids I told her, “We are always around germs!” 
I immediately felt like we’d already met. It didn’t feel odd that we were only seeing each other for the first time and I felt like we would have a million topics to cover. 
But the boys really started hacking and I felt so bad. I thought, “This mama deserves a break!” I poured the wine, we chatted a bit and then one said, “I’m gonna throw up…” 
Oye. She rushed him to the bathroom. No puke. Just phlegm. We proceeded. Attempting to have the most against-the-powers-in-the-universe play date. Even with the coughs and my boys falling off furniture and whining, I felt comfortable with her, like we’d known each other much longer. 
We all sat to eat dinner. My Oldest told knock knock jokes. We laughed. We ate. It felt nice.
And then… she held out her hands to catch her other son’s barf. 
She hadn’t much warning. He was coughing, I think, maybe and then, it was coming out and she was catching it. He stopped and I was grabbing paper towels and a bowl and then… again. Poor little muffin. He hadn’t had the tummy bug. It was likely just from the cough. Puke. She was so calm with him. So nurturing and kind. 
Yep, it was our first meeting, and she was showing her full hand. Quite literally. She proved that she – SHE – is the one who is one tough mother. 
We got the puke cleaned up. She took the boys to the front door to get their shoes back on. I ran downstairs and grabbed a bottle of wine for her purse, hoping that her sweet babes would sack out in the car and go to bed for the night. For this tough mother, this mother who is doing it pretty much all on her own. And that she could then nurse that bottle while watching her fave mindless show. Or while taking a bath. Really, anything that would allow her a respite from the crazy. 
I oddly had this feeling of wanting to hug her or go home to be up with her in the night – even though I hate being up at night. I had this desire to help. To tell her it would be okay. To tell her I was sorry if this just felt like one more thing she had to pull up her socks for and just handle. I wanted to tell her I was her friend. But I didn’t. Because I knew she just wanted to get them home. 
She apologized and said she was embarrassed. I assured her I actually liked her better with the barfing and the catching and the chaos, because it had been a long time since I had thrown a party where people were barfing. And because the barfing told me immediately, the one thing I need to know about any mama who I call my friend – that she’s totally a *mother*. I know that, at the end of the day, she will do what she’s got to for her little peanuts. With one barf-isode, on our first meeting, I already know I really like the woman – because sometimes, tough mamas just gotta catch puke in their hands. And sometimes even though you so looked forward to the mom interaction, you know you’ve got to take the kiddos home and call it a night. 
I texted her later. I told her that she is a rock star. And I honestly meant it. That’s the thing about mamas, motherhood is often what draws us so closely because we know how tough it can sometimes be. We know that it is all the time. We know that it is never ending. We know that it isn’t all Pinterest and vignettes featuring perfect corners but rather, kicks and screams and puke in your hands. And we know that we all love it madly in spite of all that reality. 
We will see each other again. We already became friends. Now we just need to get to know each other. For now, I know that she is the one who is the tough mother. And that no other future play date is likely to be quite as memorable. But I’m willing to find out. 

Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at

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