But over the last little while I've been reflecting on an essential element of modern parenting - friends. The difference for me often between a tough mummy day and a total write off day of darkness is the presence or absence of a meaningful connection with a friend. Those friends who don't judge your parenting choices, and don't try to fix your issue but who simply encourage and understand are solid gold.
It's a funny two-way street though, this friendship in motherhood thing. Sometimes our Mummy-world can be very challenging, even threatening, when we feel judged, excluded or misunderstood. Sometimes you just struggle to find someone who 'gets you' as a mum, who makes similar choices or sees things a bit the same. Being the only one making a certain choice (and the options are endless from organic food eating to childcare centre choosing to bottle feeding to crystal deoderant wearing - we all have our own ways) can feel isolating if you feel others can't support you from where they stand.
I sometimes get in my own way when it comes to connecting. I let self-pity blind me from seeing others clearly. "She has money to afford the luxuries I can't" or "she works more/less than me so she doesn't know what it's like" or "her kids don't behave in the same way so she doesn't get how draining it can be" or, or, or... The problem with this thinking is that a) it doesn't help me connect and b) it diminishes the other person down to my summary of them. I can never know the secret trials, triumphs, challenges or crisis another woman faces unless I am willing to get face to face and be real first.
So today I'm trying to find a moment to connect and honour some of the mum-friends I have and thank them for their pilgrimage alongside me. And I'm trying to remind myself to reach out on those hard days and let someone know how I'm travelling, to ask them to pray, to meet me for a sanity-date or to just text reply me with some sad face emoticons (hey, we mums don't always have time for a Tolstoy length communication!) And to give myself, and others, a chance to be real and stand honestly as we are, great mums all doing our best, driven to distraction (quite seriously) by the immense, crushing, joyful, exhausting and soul-stretching love we have for our little gems, even at 5am in the morning.