I read all the parenting books. I was so “prepared” for what I thought motherhood would be like, I could have taught a class. But something huge was missing and it’s something no one talked about 10 years ago when I was carrying my son; Motherhood is lonely. No one could have prepared me for the overwhelming joy of having this perfect person, right there alongside the crushing loneliness that made me feel like the worst mom ever. I felt so horrible that I didn’t talk about it for a lot of years. And after reflecting for awhile, I think your friends are even more important after you start having kids.

1)The “In-the same-boat” friend

She’s the one who’s IN IT with you. Your kids are close to the same age, you have husbands obsessed with fantasy football, and you both are figuring out this insane mom thing together. You talk almost every day at almost the same time every day because NAP TIME. You hang on the weekends, you take the kids to lunch at 10:30 in the morning so you don’t get ugly stares from business people dressed up and actually speaking to other adults all day. You’re soldiers in the mom battle and she’s got your back.

2) The single friend

God bless the single friend. She’s important because she makes you remember what your life was like before. You can put on some heels, eyeliner (yes, eyeliner) and actually flat iron your hair to go out and then remember a couple hours in that you can’t handle more than two drinks and still drive your mini van home. She doesn’t get mad when you bail on the girls’ nights early, she calls you in the morning and tells you all the late night drama you missed, and reminds you that while you’re SO JEALOUS of her ability to sleep in you definitely don’t miss dating. Like, at all.

3) The “Been there, done that” friend

She’s older than you or maybe she just has more kids than you, but girlfriend has seen everything. She can look at a rash and tell you if it’s time to go to urgent care. She can talk on the phone while folding laundry, making dinner and sweeping the floor. She can prioritize what’s actually important when you lose sight of it. And she doesn’t blink when you call her freaking out because you forgot to pick your kid up from school. Her motto is “OK, but did he die?” If the answer is no, you’re good. Move on.

4) The sister friend

She’s either your sister or close enough to be. She was raised right along with you and totally calls you out when you use one of your mom’s choice phrases you swore you never would. (How many legs does that chair have?) She understands why you parent the way you do, why certain traditions are so important, and why your kids will never ever eat pork cutlets. She helps you figure out what to get your parents for Christmas, listens about the fight you had with your mom, and keeps your secrets. She’s been there since before the guy, before the kids, and she’ll be there long after.

Wherever you find your tribe, remember to cultivate those relationships. It’s easy for us as moms to forget that we’re women too. And as women we have to build each other up and be there to help each other through this ridiculous, beautiful journey. You have no idea what life is going to hand to you, but you do know you can survive it with the right people. Find your people and be someone’s person.

Amber Shoemaker

Amber is a full time mom, partner, daughter and sister. You can find her home with her boys or waiting for a doctor somewhere. She likes to read, write, and travel whenever she can.