To my mom friends,

Motherhood is one tough ride, but you all have made it much more bearable. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and it truly does. But it also takes a village to raise a mother. Because I have no idea where I would be without you all—a substantial pillar in my community, my confidants, my anchors.

No one told me how lonely motherhood could be, or how hard it would be to find a village of others who know what it’s like. Unruly diapers, sleep regressions, having to choose between a shower, a meal or a quick nap. But beyond the surface, there’s postpartum depression, maternal loneliness, anxieties about your child’s safety or returning to work after maternity leave. The inescapable lows of motherhood.

The real burden became trying to balance being a mom on my own when I desperately needed a community. 

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

Those first few months I thought that I could do motherhood alone. I didn’t allow myself to open up or share my struggles with anyone out of fear of being a burden. But the real burden became trying to balance being a mom on my own when I desperately needed a community. 

I never had much luck at forming solid friendships, always introverted and never really allowing myself to expand beyond what I already knew. But somehow, a kid on my hip has given me more courage to talk to a stranger than I’ve ever had before. Through hard work—and with a pinch of luck—I have befriended some of the most amazing mom friends. And I couldn’t be more grateful. Because you all came and showed me that it is OK to cry on the shoulders of those who understand the weight of your tears and who know the meaning of your silence.

You all have swooped in at every time of need and wrapped your support around me. You all have filled my cup countless times, and you all have allowed me to fill yours as well.

Some of us have had years of friendship, and for others, we are navigating a new relationship. But I appreciate you all the same. Because you allow me to lean on you through this thing that we call motherhood—giving me advice and allowing me to be my most vulnerable self. And I do the same for you. 

You see and understand my identity as a mama, but you also know that I am so much more than just a mother.

We all share a common foundation—motherhood. And while I value and love my childless friends just as much, you all have been a different kind of security in this past year. 

Motherhood is much of a blur and often fast-paced, but through stroller walks in the park and playdates, you have taught me to slow down and take it all in. Through one of the most transformational times of my life, you guys have been right there beside me. Even when you have your own cranky babies to worry about and tend to—you selflessly step in.

You see and understand my identity as a mama, but you also know that I am so much more than just a mother. And so you help me to keep those other parts of me alive, getting me out for wine nights and friend dates without the kids. But you also understand when our plans need to be rearranged to include the kids. And for that I am thankful. You understand that my child is a huge part of me and that a major chunk of my life is consumed by him right now. But because of you all, it feels less lonely and easier to manage.

Related: 3 easy ways to make mom friends

You don’t look at me weird when I have to pump mid-conversation. You don’t judge me when I answer the door in the same clothes I had on yesterday. You’re patient when I go a few days without reaching out to you. You send me a text at 4:00 a.m. and I instantly reply and we realize that we are up feeding together. And that feeling of loneliness slowly creeps away.  

Watching you be a mom inspires me in so many ways, and I believe it is the same for you watching me. Because we have been there, from listening to each other’s birth stories to giving advice on how to fill the time when we’re home with the baby. We get to lean on each other as we raise up little humans. And we get to see our kids grow into their personalities. And it is the best thing.

You all have seen me at my lowest, but continue to lift me up despite the tribulations that weigh me down. You have even stepped in for me when I couldn’t gather any of my own strength.

We go through all the emotions of the world, but we have each other to help process them or lend out a comforting shoulder. All these moments bring us closer together. 

Motherhood can feel isolating, but opening up my heart to a community has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Because you guys are my solace. You all remind me to create balance and remind me that becoming a mom doesn’t mean losing the nature of who you are. It just means discovering a new version of yourself and learning to love her just as much.

So to my mom friends, my village, thank you for lending me your shoulder. For a laugh, a cry or even just a sigh of relief. Because, oh, what a consolation it is to have you all as my companions through this thing that we call motherhood—and for letting me be your companion as well.