Prior to motherhood, my friendships were very much reflective of the 23-year-old social butterfly that I was. I had a big group of friends—all of whom I could call upon for a night out or a trip to the beach at a moment’s notice. I had no trouble meeting friends wherever I went and I would often form relationships quickly while bonding over pretty much anything we had in common.

I rarely did an inventory of my friend list at the time, but looking back I’ve realized that those relationships were a pretty clear indication of what my priorities used to be—enjoying life to the fullest and having as much fun as possible.

Related: You’re not imagining it: Mothers need friendships to thrive

This makes sense for that season in my life, given I was responsible for a party of one. But it wasn’t long after I found out I was pregnant that I felt a shift in these relationships.

With the exception of my childhood best friend and a few others that I grew up with, I soon realized that most of these people I called “friends” didn’t actually fit that description.

While they continued to attend exciting events and jet off on last-minute adventures, I was at home dealing with morning sickness and feeling exhausted.

The invitations started to slow down and the texts and calls were limited—but it was in this moment where my real, true, forever friendships started to shine through.

This is when those lifelong friendships were put to the test and this is when I started to appreciate the authentic relationships I did have.

Early on in motherhood, my time and energy were primarily spent raising a tiny human. Suddenly, the things I cared about before became a distant memory and I longed for friends that I could relate to—friends who understood me.

The thought of drama or small talk became highly unappealing and suddenly I became so much more aware of the people that I let into my world.

I longed for another mother I could relate to and to be able to ask “Is this normal?” without judgement. Someone who got it. Since motherhood has a way of maturing you, I think it’s only natural to gravitate towards others who share in this feeling.

We want to and need to connect with others who are going through similar circumstances. So we don’t feel so alone. So we feel normal. So we feel valued and validated.

Related: I have no idea how to make mom friends—but I need them

These days, my friendships are few, but they are rich.

The women who sit at my table are so much more than just friends. We cry, we laugh, we lift each other up and we support one another.

These women send a text or call just to check-in.

These women bring me coffee just because.

These women give me a break by organizing playdates so I can have alone time.

These women prioritize time to be together in order to deepen our friendships.

These women rally around each other when someone in our group is hurting.

These women share their stories with me—the good, the ugly, the celebratory moments and the real struggles of motherhood.

These women guide me, give me advice and inspire me.

These women experience the same challenges and overwhelming emotions of raising kids and because of that they just get it. They get when I forget to return a text and they get when I’m too tired to meet at yoga.

These women are my village, my family, and they have taught me what true, authentic friendship looks like.

A version of this post was published January 17, 2018. It has been updated.