I was the last among my friends to have a baby at the advanced age of twenty-eight. I know there are lots of mamas who wait much longer than I did for their tinies, but, for a couple of years in my mid- to late twenties, it felt like I would never join this exclusive club that all my friends had been inducted into. They all talked diapers and colds and sleep and breastfeeding so glamorous) and, while I would obnoxiously throw my poorly-founded, well-researched opinions unsolicited into mom conversations, I felt very much outside the motherhood club. I imagined when I finally became a mother, this would be the mainstay of my social life: conversations centered around our darling cherubs carried out with other moms in similar stages. These ladies would be my people as they had been pre-kid, and I would again—finally—be theirs, just as soon as I reproduced.
I was a little right and a lot wrong. These ladies were, in fact, my people when I started having babies and didn’t stop for half a decade. But my insecurities had blinded me to the obvious: we had never stopped being friends, even when I was being generous (annoying) with my vast knowledge of all things motherhood. The club was mostly an illusion. Also, as it turns out, that mom circle isn’t even my biggest source of support.
Some of my best mama friends aren’t actually mothers.
I have Sarah. She’s ten years younger than I am. Single. Works for NASA. She travels either for work or adventure between two and three dozen times a year. In May, she went both skydiving and scuba diving in the same week. To say she’s in a different life phase than I am is an absurd understatement. Still, she loves my children and me with the same enthusiasm she brings to the rest of her life. Her brain is thus far not scrambled by the hormonal and sensory chaos that motherhood brings. When Sarah’s home, her schedule is far more flexible than any mom’s. She comes second only to my parents as the emergency contact for school and extracurriculars. Does she have parenting experience? No. But she’s got a freshness I need, and when I talk to her about mom stuff, she comes up with ideas that I simply would never find from inside my trench with my four little kids. When we talk about regular, non-mom life stuff, she reminds me that I’m more than “just a mom.” My whole family has claimed her as our own, so much that my kids talk about her like she lives at our house: “when Sarah comes home, I want to show her this picture!”
I need all of that. I’m grateful for all of that.
Then there’s Alycia. She’s seven years older than I am, also single, and Google Maps says a trip to her house would take me 69 hours of constant driving. She’s a social worker by calling and has engineered her life so she can be free to do that work in volunteer and ministry capacities, largely for people who either could not or would not seek it out. Again, the life stage—not the same—but she and I share a lot of history, and we joke about sharing a brain. I talk to her daily, often dozens of times. Neither of us ever has to explain how we feel about whatever we’re currently facing because we just get each other. Over the last few years, when my husband has been out for more than a week at a time (which happens roughly yearly), it’s become standard for us to find a cheap mileage ticket and fly her up, almost always on a red-eye, from North Carolina to Alaska to be a backup adult for me. She has more experience with other people’s children than I have with my own, plus our shared brain means she parents my kids beside me seamlessly. My children believe she lives at our house, too. This past spring, she flew up to watch them for more than a week without me while my husband and I took a trip across the continent. She had backup from Sarah, and together they took care of my kids and my life in ways many moms only dream about.
I walked into motherhood thinking my most valuable resources were going to be other moms in the trenches with me. Yes, those moms are definitely a gift, but it is a blunder common within my faith background to idolize marriage and motherhood and undervalue the role of singles and childless women in my life and in the lives of mamas around me. Do I want Sarah and Alycia to have husbands and families of their own? Sure, if it’s the best thing for them. Marriage and children are both excellent gifts. But, while I haven’t always seen it this way, singleness is also an excellent gift, freeing women to pursue adventure and calling in ways I cannot. These two are currently single, kidless, and still living their best lives. While they do that, they’re blessing me, my family, and others.
If you don’t have these people in your life, consider finding one or two. Adopt them into your family. As you grow to belong with each other, life together may become richer than you imagine.
Featured image by Hill Smiley Photography
Robin Chapman is a full-time imperfect Jesus lover, wife, and homeschooling mama to four babies, ages one to seven. When she isn’t buried in children or hiding from them, she enjoys reading, photography, and sharing stories on her blog, where she’d love to connect with you! You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram… or perhaps holed up in her bathroom with some coffee.