Keeping Watch

A few weeks ago, my husband and I both got food poisoning the same day.  Well, he woke up in the middle of the night puking and stayed home from work the next day, but I only felt nauseous and really needed to get my internship hours so I went ahead and took the girls to daycare and went to go counsel people.  Bad idea. I felt terrible the whole day, utilized my uber strength and fought the urge to puke until my last client of the day left my office and I ran to the bathroom and let it fly. Then I went back to my desk, wrote a note and promptly texted my friends about my misfortune. That’s not too abnormal as I’ve always been what most would say is overly comfortable discussing bodily functions (ask my parents about our dinner conversations growing up).  As I was joking about barfing on the way home, my friends were empathizing with me (and possibly thinking I was crazy since I was laughing about being sick but hey we all cope in our own way;) ) and asking what they could do to help.

You see, they are my mom friends.

They understood that being sick was one thing, never fun to be puking anywhere or at any time. However, they also understood that I wouldn’t just be going home to lay on the couch, binge watching TV with a trashcan next to me, sipping sprite until I felt better. They knew that when I sent them a pic of the giant trash bag I snatched on the way out of my office to have in the car in case the urge came, I would be driving to pick up my almost 3year old (who has an unnatural amount of energy even for a toddler) and my 4month old baby – who literally can’t do anything for herself yet (slacker…) from daycare and taking them home where I would then have to continue to keep them alive despite feeling like I was on the verge of death myself.

When one of them responded to my pic of the bag next to me in the car with “I can’t laugh at this with a clear conscience but I am definitely laughing. I’m so sorry. Praying you won’t need to use it!” and the other responded with “I am picturing Kiley puking the whole way home while driving down the interstate. The bag is ridiculously full and she just acts like it’s an everyday thing. My friends are wonder women!” I was so grateful.  So grateful to have friends who knew. Who got it.  And who were there to laugh with/at me in my misery.  Friends who knew that I’d be nursing my baby while postponing my inevitable trip to the bathroom.  Friends who knew I’d be tucking in my toddler with my sick husband hobbling into the room so we could both read her her Bible story and sing her her song.  Friends who knew because they had been there too- because they are my mom friends.

But not just any kind of mom friends- real mom friends.

I’ve been lucky enough, or maybe my parents just did a really good job about teaching me how to make quality friends, to have real friends throughout my life- high school, college, post college and now in this season of motherhood I have added real Mom friends.  Mom friends at church, childhood friends turned mom friends, college friends who are now mom friends- here in Texas and in different states (thanks technology). Real mom friends are ones who never judge or give advice when not warranted.  Who don’t say “Kiley, you really shouldn’t stop and get your kid a happy meal even though you are sick” or “You know, if you had your baby on a better sleep routine, you wouldn’t be so tired.”  Nope.

And when I send them texts confessing my not so best moments of parenting in reaction to my child’s not so best moments of obeying- I don’t get advice about how to discipline better. I get a meme in return that perfectly depicts how I’m feeling with “I feel ya man” attached to it.

When they see my toddler having a tantrum there are no hurtful words of “Well my child has never acted like that.”  No, these are real mom friends who said “Haha, don’t worry my kid will probably hit your kid first” when I mentioned apologetically that my one year old was in an “assertive” (ok, she was pushing kids down and trampling them for awhile) phase.  Real mom friends who send me pics of their thinning postpartum hair after I mentioned how much hair was falling out of my own head.  Real mom friends who say “Oh I would be so mad too” when I told them about when my toddler colored on her new bed and I got mad.  Real mom friends who say “Is it ok to ignore your toddler if they aren’t going to listen anyway?” and don’t scoff when I respond with “I hope so because I’ve done that before.” Real mom friends who oogle over your new baby with love and affection. Real mom friends who send you pump wipes in the mail because you developed thrush from being so busy at internship to properly clean your pump parts on top of the 4 clogged ducts that same week.  Real mom friends who will meet from 8pm to midnight after work and children’s bedtime to get some pancakes, coffee and sanity- giving up precious sleep and alone time with husbands.  Real mom friends who send snapchats of their kids being weirdos just like yours. Real mom friends who help calm fears when you think you have prolapsed uterus after birthing 2 giant babies. Real mom friends who laugh with you when you find out that is definitely not happening.  Real mom friends who encourage you to go after your dreams that don’t revolve around your kids. Real mom friends who commiserate the pain of childbirth and difficulties nursing without offering suggestions unless asked.  Real mom friends who celebrate surprise positive pregnancy tests and milestones of children. Real mom friends who rock the sweatpants, spit-up shirt and messy bun with you. Real mom friends who tell you your fried chicken diet doesn’t show and who say “You guys. You both look great too. Like, we’re three sexy beasts.” Then proceed to say they are hot boxing their van with farts while waiting to pick up their kids in the same conversation.

Real mom friends don’t pretend to have it all together or expect me to either.  They are just there. Being real in the good moments, the not so great moments, and even the bad moments.

These are the mom friends I surround myself with.  This is the kind of mom friend I try to be.

If you are here, you know I like to write. You know I have a blog. You know my blog is primarily about my life as a working, grad-schooling, mother.  You know I talk about cracked nipples, intense love of my two adorable daughters and chucking chicken nuggets in my toddler’s car seat while trying my best to figure out this parenting thing.

This “real mom friend” thing is my why.

It’s why the pictures on my blog are not white washed and trendily posed like “successful blog” pictures are supposed to be. It’s why I don’t have “Top 10 ways to be a good mother” posts like “successful blogs” are supposed to have. It’s why my “blog” will never bring in any income.  Successful blogs are successful because they offer services to people and are run like a business- and props to them! However- I’m not a business person.  I don’t have marketing tools or services to offer.

I’m just a random lady, who likes to use writing techniques as a way to express thoughts as a means for “holding space” for myself and allowing others to virtually enter into that space with me.  A place for me to be a “real mom friend” to moms out there who maybe feel the pressure to be a “successful blog” mom instead of the human mom that they are. I have the blessing of having many real mom friends and real non-mom friends in the flesh in my life, but I know- through conversations with people in my own life, and through talking with my counseling clients- that not everyone has people or even one person to hold space with them in their vulnerability or celebrate with them in their joy.

Sometimes, my admission of being in grad school for my masters in Counseling is met with a response of “Oh so you give people advice about their life?” or “Can you tell me what to do about my problems then?”  And I say “no- go read a blog for that” – Just kidding, but I try to explain what my 60hr grad program that includes: a practicum, two semesters of internship that require 300hours each, and then 3,000hours of in the field practice after graduation before the title of Licensed Professional Counselor is granted- is training me to do.  And while I can talk about reframing cognitions, reality testing or various creative interventions – a huge part of what I’m learning to do is hold space for people in their vulnerability.  To be present in that space without giving in to that human compulsion we seem to have to offer advice or try to “fix”.  To give people the space to be real.  This may sound basic. This may sound like something that shouldn’t take training. This may sound like the basic concept of listening. This may sound like the very center of being human.

And yet…

When Jesus said to his friends “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” they couldn’t.  They fell asleep while their Lord was weeping and when he returned he said “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?”  Jesus wasn’t asking them to give him advice about what he was about to do. He wasn’t asking them to take a cute pic of his feet while he prayed.  He wasn’t asking them to pretend to be something or give him anything.  He was simply asking them to be with him, alert and prayerful, in his time of need.

So this is what I strive for.  To be like Jesus and express my need for others and try to do my best at what he called his disciples to do for him. Be there- because we were not created to live life alone.

This is my why.  Why I write about bodily fluids and emotions that either make me uncomfortable or giddy.  Because they are real. Because everyone has them. And because everyone needs to know they are not alone in their real-ness.

*October is mental health awareness month.  Feeling alone is so real for so many people and can have such drastic effects on life. Please talk to someone, professional or non, if you feel alone or overwhelmed. There are people who care and who want to sit with you in your real-ness.*

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