Whether it’s the delivery man asking for a signature, a stranger who needs directions, or an acquaintance stopping in for an impromptu visit, I don’t do so well with unexpected guests.

A “be there in 10 minutes” message will send me into panic mode as I scurry frantically around the house tossing randomly discarded articles of clothing toward the hamper, shimmying into something presentable, brushing on a touch of mascara, and hiding the remnants of my toddler’s all-impressive Teddy Graham breakfast.

I so do not have it all together, and I spend far too much time trying to mask that truth from the world.

But never from you, my dearest mama friend. You embrace me, mess and all.

When you shoot me a text to let me know you’re on your way, I survey the house, shrug my shoulders, throw on my most frequented pair of sweatpants, and fall onto the couch to await your arrival.

I don’t bother to open the door when I hear your tires in the driveway, just as you don’t bother to knock—instead you walk right in and kick your mismatched-socks feet up next to mine.

We talk about all the things: the latest episode of that TV show we’re both hooked on, the awesome deal we scored on shoes the week before . . . parenting successes, parenting failures, our lost sense of self, tension in our marriages.

I tease you about the awkward thing you said last week, and you poke at the overlooked stash of Goldfish in the crack between my couch cushions.

We go from heavy burdens of the heart to laughter and back again seamlessly, like the changing directions of the wind.

That’s the way this friendship rolls, and I don’t say it nearly enough—but I am so darn thankful for the realness between us.

I’ve never had a friendship quite like this, you know. In truth, before you, I never realized such a thing existed.

Sure, my love for “best friends” of years past runs deep, but this is new to me—this authentic, unconditional, unassuming, constant type of friendship we share.

The kind of friendship that understands that unreturned text messages, busy schedules, and cancelled plans aren’t grounds for quick annoyance or dismissal.

The kind that is available at all hours of the day and night.

The kind that doesn’t require unnecessary apologies—not for the state of our home or the choice of our clothing or the way we feel.

The kind that never seems forced.

The kind that won’t give into competition over who is the better wife, mother, or friend.

The kind that doesn’t dabble in masked emotions or carefully chosen words.

The kind that grows over cups of coffee, and glasses of wine, and second helpings of dessert.

The kind of bond where I can be me and you can be you, and we love each other fully in all of our beautiful, messy, authentic glory.

To say that I appreciate this thing we share would be an understatement in the fullest sense of the word.

This friendship of ours?

It has brought me life.
It has made me better.
It has shown me my truth.
It has taught me to love myself in a way that took me so very long to learn.

It is so many different things on so many different days, but above all—it’s real.

What a gift it is to have someone who knows every side of me and appreciates me, not regardless of, but because of, all that I am.

What a gift it is to share this messy friendship with you.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward