To The Friends Who Love Our Kids Like Their Own

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
Nick Ansell - PA Images / Getty Images

When we recently relocated to a new state, I wasn’t worried about my kids making new friends, as they are all quite extroverted and tend to befriend kids wherever they go. And I wasn’t worried about myself—Lord knows I’m busy enough managing our household and working from home during the day. But there’s one thing I knew we’d miss because it happens organically and can be a rare thing to find.

I knew, more than anything, I’d miss my mom friends who love my kids as if they are their own. These were friends who had watched my kids grow from drooling infants into chatty toddlers and now school-aged kids with homework battles and friend drama. Friends I knew would pick them up from school even if they were puking everywhere and who would help them wipe their butts properly in a pinch. These women were my lifeline for many years, and their love for my children meant I could take a breath sometimes on those endless days of motherhood.

When you enter the new mom world, you may find yourself lonely, floundering, searching desperately for answers, for camaraderie, and frankly, for a friend. I certainly did. That’s why, 10 years ago, I made the best decision possible for my mental health—joining a SAHM play date group. It was because of this group that I drove 40 minutes to play dates. Or dragged my newborn and toddler to the zoo on a 90-degree day. Or braved the wild chaos of Chuck E. Cheese.

But it was also because of this group that I met the women who would be my first “mom friends.” They were the first women other than Grandma whom I trusted to hold my baby and who made me realize I was doing okay.

And as our kids grew up, they grew to love my family and I grew to love theirs. We formed a village around each other, lifting each other up, coming over in our pajamas with a bottle of wine after a tantrum-filled day. When one of our kids was struggling academically or had a scary health diagnosis, we swooped in to ensure that our friends had support. We swapped hand-me-downs, fed each other’s kids, and loaned out extra underpants after an accident.

I will be forever grateful that these women were in my life, and to them, I’d like to say thank you.

Thank you for remembering that my son is allergic to nuts and for also remembering that he has no boundaries and will forage your cabinets.

Thank you for remembering that he likes to “handle it himself” when it comes to poop, but that quite often, he actually cannot “handle it himself.”

Thank you for your kindness toward my daughter, often lost in sea of brothers and houses full of boys throughout the neighbhorhood. Thank you for digging out your crayons and glitter glue and letting her play in your makeup and braid your hair now and then.

Thank you for your gentle discipline and letting my kids know they aren’t allowed to be little shits—whether they are at your house or mine.

Thank you for telling me the truth when they really were little shits.

(And thank you for inviting them to come back even though they are sometimes little shits.)

Thank you for knowing them—knowing that my little guy is desperate to keep up with the older kids, and that his need to be part of the crew often leads to tears. Or tantrums.

And for knowing that my daughter’s pale skin burns at the first sight of the sun and slathering her with sunscreen.

Thank for feeding them. Like seriously, I cannot believe how much you fed them.

Thank you for being on call and taking the baby when I had to rush my toddler to the ER. I remember how you met me at my car, asked no questions, and just said “GO. I’ve got her.”

Thank you for being the name I could write down in the “emergency contact” section of all the forms I filled out over the years. And for giving me the comfort of knowing that if I couldn’t be there, you’d get my babies and hug them and keep safe.

Thank you for letting them tear apart your house so I could have a minute of quiet to catch my breath and remember that I am a person.

Thank you for sensing that I felt guilty for how long they stayed over and “insisting” that they stay an extra hour. I so needed that hour.

And for coming over with yours when my house was a mess, all I had to offer was grilled cheese and crackers, and you knew that I just needed to talk.

Thank you for watching my son’s magic tricks and listening to endless descriptions of his Minecraft worlds. Even though I know you tuned him out, thank you for faking it enough that he believed you heard every word.

Thank you for sharing in their victories, knowing that they were mine as much as theirs, and knowing that we all needed to celebrate when they finally pooped on the damn potty.

Thank you for being there on my worst days when I was 100% sure I had officially failed as this entire motherhood gig and that God made a giant catastrophic mistake in making me a mother. Thank you for telling me an equally horrific story of something your kid so that I felt normal again.

Thank you for loving my kids as if they were your own. I know that this type of friendship is rare and I will forever treasure you and all that you gave us. You are my circle. You are my girls. And I love your babies right back.

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