Today’s post inspired by this card from my incredible best friend.
I probably could have come up with a better title to this post, but that one just felt ~right. I love everything about the Pawnee Goddesses. And everything about Leslie Knope, honestly. I love Galentine’s Day and her positive feminist approach and her blinding love of and hope in her female friends.
I feel like I always valued female friendships – that’s something great that sports does for you. You develop a strong bond of trust and love with your teammates that transcends friendship. About once a year, all of my softball girls get together for dinner and no matter how far apart we’ve traveled and lived and become it’s like we’re right back in the dugout. But with kids and husbands and careers now.
It seems, though, that I’ve developed a much deeper, enduring appreciation of female relationships in the last year. Becoming a mother changes you to the core, and basically all of your values change. Like I still have a lot of the same values… but they’re different. They’re darker or lighter, pushed back or pulled to the front. And female friendships have gone from a fun and flirty pink on the side to a saturated and royal shade of purple planted firmly on the front lines.
I’ve lost a few friends this year, which has felt weird and sad and beyond my control. It’s been hard to accept and admit it, to be honest. My head knows it’s what’s best – it makes sense to trim down your inner and outer circles. You simply can’t have the same huge and crazy groups of friends from when you were single or married without kids. But it doesn’t mean my heart always gets it. It takes a long time for me to cut people out of my life, even when they’re toxic or mean. I talk a big game on the internet, guys, but I’m a sensitive lil softie.
There have been two great things that have happened to Danica’s Friend World since leveling up to Mom Status, though. The first one is you are now in The Club. The Mom Club. And it’s awesome. Like occasionally you get a breastfeeding diatribe or someone chastises you for keeping your baby up until midnight (She sleeps till 11 CHILL), but for the most part it’s this super supportive club of knowing smiles and sympathetic nods. My cousins on my dad’s side are all older than me, and I always felt like they saw me as 12 year old ever-talking Dani, their little obnoxious cousin. Then about a month after Reester was born I went to a baby shower and it was like I had ARRIVED. We were swapping birth stories, comparing sleep schedules, evaluating nursing bras. I was in The Club.
The Mom Club knows no age, no experience requirement other than simply being a mom. Two weeks ago in Smith’s there was a girl grocery shopping, or trying to, while her baby wailed in the car seat perched on her cart. She was clearly just trying to grab the few things she needed and get the h*ck out of there. I remembered that feeling, and recognized the apologetic look on her face, peering around, expecting angry or irritated customers sharing her aisle. She aimed the apology look at me, cringed, and said “Sorry!” I just shook my head and smiled. “Don’t even worry! No one cares!” Like a Sage Old Mother. Like I haven’t been doing this for a mere 15 months. Like I know anything about this at all. But that’s the great thing about The Mom Club! I do! I DO know something about this!
In Mom Club you can talk about poop and ask for sippy cup recommendations and laugh about how you still pee a little every time you do a jumping jack. In Mom Club you are an expert – an expert on your own kid(s), and you’re treated as such. We can all get a little judgy sometimes about the Mom niches we’re passionate about, but overall I’ve found it to be an extremely supportive, inspiring community. Like Relief Society, but with more body fluids. And less crying. Well, maybe the same amount of crying.
The other awesome thing that I’ve been blessed with since becoming a mom is the intensifying of real adult female friendships. While my circle of casual, topical, or otherwise “outer circle” friends has decreased, the circle of close, permanent, best friends has become ironclad in a way it never has before. My time has become more limited, more precious. So naturally prioritizing had to happen. Instead of spreading myself thin with lots of different groups of people I’m in a really solid rotation of the same few crowds.
Experiencing this first year of motherhood with my best friend Eliesa has been just… beyond words. I don’t know how people do this without having their best friend stepping forward in tandem.
Sometimes I find myself close to tears when spending the day with my best friend Katie and her kids. Imagine if Ann Perkins came back to Pawnee. How would Leslie feel? That’s me, now that my Katie is back from New Jersey.
I have shared everything with my SIL and bestie Haley this year, and I mean EVERYTHING. And she hasn’t even run for the hills yet. How lucky am I? Its a little weird to want to grow up to be someone several years younger than you but I make it work.
I highly encourage everyone to invest in a friendship with a Supermom you admire who is a few steps ahead of you. Watching my girl Kiara artfully parent her four children, aged 9 years to 8 months, has made me believe in families, and believe that I can have one myself.
My Harry Potter Book Club girls mean more to me than I can say, and they bring a level of fulfillment to my life that you can’t get with just family alone.
There’s not much else going on in the friend world, and a year ago that would make this Leslie Knope feel lonely or bored or wasteful. But I think I’ve finally reached a new threshold of friendship understanding. In the last year these relationships have soared to new heights, and thickened to new depths. They are the ground under my feet and wind beneath my wings. They help me see when I’m being self-centered and pull me from the nosedive when I’m self-hating. They thrive on happiness, and leave no hunger void to fill with gossip or backbiting. They make me want to be better, to become the best version of Danica yet.
I know most of you have already figured this out. I’m always slow up the learning curve when it comes to life lessons, though, so this is what I’ve learned this year:
You need a female tribe.
You need it to include family, so they’re legally required to be around forever.
You need it to include non-family, so they’ll listen when your family drives you crazy.
You need it to be women you love, like, and above all – respect.
You need it to be healthy, for you and them.
You need it to be consistent.
You need it to be safe.
You need it to be fun.
You need it to regularly include junk food and Diet Coke.
And you need it because you are worth it. You are worthy of forever friends who love you unconditionally. You deserve people who will stand at your side through the rain, and carry you on their backs through the storm.
You are more than a mom. More than a social media account. More than a job, a church calling, a carpool.
You are a goddess, a glorious female warrior. Queen of all that you survey. Enemies of friendship and girls nights, hear my womanly roar!
And thank you, you guys. As my IRL friend time has decreased I’ve felt so comforted and rejuvenated to increase my internet friend time. You guys are smart and funny and kind and strong and so accepting of my mistakes and idiosyncrasies. I love you all. You are my Pawnee Goddesses, too.