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June 10, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
I was chatting with my neighbor on her front porch last night, lounging on camp chairs, cold beers in our hands, kids tucked into bed (don't worry, my husband was home!) ...

As we shared the funny and frustrating moments we've had recently with our little ones, the night sounds whispered all around us. She spotted a lightning bug, the first of the season, and I wondered aloud about the single point of light dotting the wooded West Virginia hillside across the river.

Our post-bedtime tete-a-tete is a sporadic ritual I have come to value highly. (I would be remiss if I didn't mention I am blessed to have another friend I share these valuable nighttime chats with on occasion, as well. )

My neighbor and I are different in so many ways -- she's eight years younger than I am, for starters. She's a stay-at-home mom, I'm a work-outside-the-home mom. She's a tall, thin redhead; I'm a shorter, rounder blonde. Our personalities are about as opposite as you can get.

But when you're a new mom, you find friendship in all sorts of unexpected places. I was fortunate enough to discover this new friend living right across the street -- although, oddly enough, we met for the first time at a nursing mother's support group meeting 10 miles away in St. Clairsville.

Last night, the importance of such friendships became more evident to me as, the later it got, the more vulnerable we became, sharing about our families and the desires of our hearts. The more we talked, the more we connected on issues we didn't know we had in common, and the deeper my understanding of her grew, even on the things we don't have in common.

I cherish this friendship and the others I have made since becoming a mother. They help me feel connected; they reassure me that I am not alone in my struggles; they allow me to vent freely; they help me to laugh at myself; and, they remind me of my most important, God-given purpose: to love.

Forming these friendships does require a certain level of vulnerability, a willingness to lay yourself bare in the hopes of being accepted, not judged; understood, not ridiculed.

Sometimes we women let pride and fear of failure get in the way of forming such bonds. You can be so hellbent on being Supermom or proving you are raising your kids the "proper" way that you alienate yourself from everyone.

May I suggest humbling yourself and reaching out? If you do, you just might find nobody understands what you're going through better than that new mom across the street.


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