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Soul Sisters

Me and my peeps

"I have been part of several communities of women over the years. Each of them was created simply because we wanted a place to tell our deepest stories. In every case we found that there is a way of being together that sustains us, and now and then, if we are lucky, returns us to ourselves."
-- Sue Monk Kidd

As I climbed gently into bed, my husband rolled over and slipped an arm around my waist. "I like your friends," he murmured groggily. "I can't ever be a mommy or a woman for you. But they can." He kissed my shoulder, and before I had even arranged my own covers, he was asleep again, finding unconsciousness with an ease and familiarity completely foreign to me and my insomnia.

The next morning, he only vaguely remembered the conversation, but it didn't matter. He had confirmed what I already knew: my girlfriends are good for me. Our get-togethers are irregular but lengthy; we always eat, but not always out. Sometimes, we go away for a night, or have a sleepover (we are scattered, some living over 80 miles away). Once, we gathered to help one of our number pack up her house for a move. Now, there are 5 of us. There used to be 6, but two moved away and a new friend moved in.

My sister, MommyJ, is a part of this group, but I Iove all these girls as though they were my sisters, too. Since I have a tendency to monopolize conversations and a terrible habit of interjecting my own thoughts before someone else is finished expressing theirs, I figure I'm either the recipient of some extreme and painful form of charity, or they love me enough to overlook my faults.

We have helped each other through birth and pregnancy, infertility, hyper-fertility, joblessness, money worries, spouse troubles, in-law issues, concerns with our children, crazy neighbors, loss and gain. We share recipes and books and movies and music. We support each other in all of our roles, as wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, servants in the church -- whatever we find ourselves doing.

And, oh, the laughter! One of my friends tried out for American Idol, just so she could overhear her husband's (legitimate) audition. She's expecting a baby, and we named him for her last weekend. Another friend advises all of us with the coolest of cool heads, always coming up with a reasonable solution to the most complex problems. Her insight has been especially valuable to me as we have brainstormed about dealing with one particular child's challenging behaviors. One more friend is preparing for her second home birth, around the end of next month. She makes the most delicious tomato soup, and her chocolate lava cake was a revelation to me -- you can make this at home!

My sister is also expecting a baby (must have been something in the water) and my baby, at 4 months old, gets passed around the group, a sort of incentive to keep going through the last few weeks of their respective pregnancies. Between the five of us, we have . . . almost 21 children (7 girls, 14 boys), ranging in age from almost here to 11 years old. Sometimes, we get together with our kids and spouses, and they all get along, but the heart of it is us -- the women, the mommies, the wives.

Those evenings we spend together are renewing, rejuvenating, uplifting moments that not only provide respite from the ordinary, but help us find joy in the vagaries and constant demands of day-in and day-out existence.

We find such kinship in our shared experiences, and the time we spend together validates our individual convictions that we are not alone in our trials. This has been vital to my own mental and emotional stability on more than one occasion.

My husband was right: he will never truly understand what it means to be a woman, or a mother, just as I will never fully comprehend the weight of his responsibilities as father and patriarch of our home. He recognizes my friendships as valid and essential outlets that improve my outlook and help my attitude immeasurably. Instead of feeling threatened, as many men do, he knows the benefits to me reach into the heart of our marriage and family.

So go hug your girlfriends today!

InkMom is a musician, writer, and midnight bookkeeper for her husband's business. She revels in the beauty of their Western North Carolina home and sincerely hopes heaven closely resembles the Blue Ridge Mountains. While she and her husband live out a great love story, they raise three crazy boys (4, 4 and 3) and one blessed brand new baby girl. To find out more about InkMom, visit her personal blog, I'm (not) Crazy Mommy.

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