I didn't know I needed her.

We think what we need in a friend is someone just like us. Shared values, similar aesthetic. Someone who understands us completely and will never make us feel uncomfortable.

But when she walked into the library that day, wearing a shaved head and cut-off jean shorts, my heart jolted and my gut urged me to act. I was drawn to her like a mama of a newborn is drawn to caffeine.

She commanded attention by her very presence. She appeared strong and bold and stood out in our small, homogeneous town. I think maybe I loved her from that first introduction when I forced myself out of my introverted, weary shell to say hello. I didn't want her to get away.


Later I would learn that she didn't really trust me at first, and felt herself building a wall of defense based on preconceived ideas about who I was. She felt a little weary herself—tired of judgment and trying to fit in. Maybe we're all a bit battle-scarred.

It was not until weeks later that we uncovered a beautiful truth: we fit together.

I'm quieter and more conservative; I love wearing black. She strings her home with prayer flags and clothes herself in color. But we fit together.

Outward appearance does not tell the full truth about what lies inside. To get to the treasure you need to get your hands dirty. My most precious relationships have come when I let my heart lead on paths my head did not fully understand.

What I'm looking for in a mom friend is not someone who is just like me but one who models who I hope to be: a woman who carries herself with strength and dignity.

A woman who is a questioner, a beauty seeker; one who forges her own messy path and invites me to share in the adventure.

I'm looking for a friend who challenges me and lifts me up when I'm sinking. And who lets me do the same for her.

A woman who does not settle for status quo and is committed to growth. She makes mistakes and practices self-compassion. She sees me, actually likes me, and forgives quickly.

What I'm looking for in a mom friend is a human being that recognizes our worth does not come in our ability to perform, keep up or have it all together. All of the time.

She is authentic and cranky and drives me crazy sometimes with her quirks and strong personality.

And I love her all the more for it.

She doesn't keep me at arm's length or allow me to get away but pulls me close, into sisterhood, and does the work to stay connected though distance divides us.

She speaks life into me when I cannot breathe and tells me to turn my back when she spoons sugar into her coffee. We know each other's secrets and shame. We know we're safe.

What I'm looking for in a mom friend is one who mesmerizes me by how different she is from what I know and opens my eyes to the gifts in each soul I meet. She teaches me to do less talking and more listening. But also to speak up with the truth I believe she needs to hear.

She rejoices with me when I fly and grieves with me when my body and soul are heavy with pain and loss. She tells me when she needs me too.

There are turning points in our lives when beauty drops in unexpected. Unannounced.

That day she walked into the library all those years ago, was the day I learned what I was looking for in a mom friend.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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