I sit on the floor with my baby, my 9-month-old, purple paci in her mouth, early morning hours.
The carpet is bare except for a few stray toys that fit in the van as we drove, movers later bringing the rest of our household goods.
She woke early today. I lean against the wall, coffee in hand watching her clumsily crawl her way across the floor. She catches my eye, speeds up towards me and flings her whole body across my legs, laying her head down on my thighs in an exhausted act of sheer adoration.
She looks at me and I can see it in her eyes, I can see it in the bounce of her legs, she wants to stand.
Do you want to stand up? Here Darlin’, let me help you. You can do it.
I put each of her hands in mine, but make sure she is using her own strength to straighten her legs as together, we get her to stand up.
Her legs wobble, she looks to me for reassurance, but her eyes twinkle.
What?! she seems to say. I didn’t know I could do this!
And this whole exchange makes me think of you, my friend.
I remember when I had my first baby, you already had a few, and you asked me how I was doing. Before I could answer the way I thought I should (Oh, I’m doing good. Tired, but she is a gift) you piped back in with And if it’s not going well, that’s fine. We know you still love your baby. And I started to cry. It was not going well.
You showed me I was safe, welcomed, no longer alone. You showed me there was freedom here. I latched onto the grace you offered me.
And then there was the time I had forgotten who I was. It is so disorienting to become a new mama and you showed me the way back. I somehow got lost in the piles of laundry and the clutter on the floors and the babies on my hip. You were there to remind me of who I am. You reminded me to have fun with my husband and to remember my first love. You demanded that I have a little grace with myself.
And friend, there was that time that I launched myself out of my comfort zone, doing a new thing. Unsure of my abilities, uncertain if I could really, actually do this and you told me I could, in fact, do it. And I believed you. So I did it.
There were the birthday parties, the late nights out, the tears over everything and nothing, the silence of sorrow, the weekends away, the cups upon cups of coffee to spur us on in the morning, the glasses of wine to help us unwind in the night. We raised each others’ babies and celebrated everything as if it were our own victory. There were the Wednesday mornings and the Thursday nights, the Monday afternoons and the Saturday evenings. The new babies and the moves across town and discovering salted caramel ice cream. Our friendship was filled with a million tiny moments that added up to pure significance.
And girls, do you remember that surprise? The extravagance of your love, the lengths you were willing to go to for me, the lavishness you poured on me still leaves me undone.
Every time I pushed you away, sure that my mess was too great, sure that someone else could fill my spot at your table, you refused to let me get away.
Every time I was unsure of the next move to make, you were right there, cheering me on, my army surrounding me.
It’s so easy to become an island, safe and protected. It’s so easy to turn inward, close the doors, guard your heart.
It’s so hard to open up your life, show your weak spots, admit you don’t have it together.
But it is there that you showed me that you’re with me in this, today and forever. It is there that we became family. It is there that I learned that girlfriends– call-in-the-middle-of-the-night, know-your-favorite-drink, love-your-babies kind of girlfriends– are one of the very greatest treasures of life.
Girls, you hold me.
Girls, you point me back to Jesus time and time and time again.
And as I learned how to be a mama, as I built a marriage with my husband, as I saw who I was and who I am and who I could be,
You gave me your hands and said Here, let me help you, Darlin’. I know you can do it.
And you showed me how to stand.