I met my best mom-friend when my baby was a few months old. Kambly and I were set up by a mutual friend and seasoned mother who knew we’d need the support of other new moms in those newborn days.
We met for coffee at a little shop in our town. Babies in tow, we chatted over my iced coffee and her chai tea latte. We talked about our mutual connections, college, meeting our husbands, our labor and delivery stories, and even how much we loved our OBGYNs. It was easy and revitalizing to talk to her. That conversation was one of the first ones where I realized just how freeing it is to talk about breastfeeding, epidurals, and postpartum self-care with another mom. No one else quite gets it.
From that first coffee date, we started to hang out more. We lived one mile from one another, so it was convenient to get out and spend time together with our little ones. Kambly set up playdates with other young moms in the area, which was a great way to meet other young mothers and talk all things baby that our husbands just didn’t understand.
I should say that I am not really a social butterfly. I don’t have dozens of best friends, and it takes a while for my friendships to go beyond surface level to something deep and truly vulnerable. But as a mother, you can form at least some connection with just about any other mama in the thick of it.
“Oh, your kid didn’t sleep through the night until six months, too?”
“I also had an induction for high blood pressure!”
“How do you keep the spark alive in your marriage with a newborn?”
“What new foods are you trying with your little one now?”
“What was the longest you went without showering after giving birth?”
But I found a deeper connection with Kambly. Initially our relationship was reliant on motherhood subjects and just getting to know one another. Then we started to dive into each other’s messes more. I talked to her about my therapy sessions for postpartum depression. She opened up about her struggles with the same and starting the same antidepressant that I had just been prescribed. We texted about girly nonsense. We shared prayer requests. We talked about finding self-worth as stay-at-home moms. We lamented the change in our jean size after having babies. We sent each other videos of our babies trying new foods. We started a beginner’s yoga class together. We laughed in surprise and joy when she told me she was unexpectedly pregnant again.
Then, she was gone.
She collapsed one Friday morning before taking her husband to work. Her chest had been hurting, and she suddenly lost consciousness. CPR, the EMTs, and the emergency room couldn’t save her. She was here, and then she was not.
Her death was like a bomb of shock, sadness, and utter disbelief. She left behind a husband and an almost 18-month-old little boy. She left behind a family and hundreds of people who loved her vibrant personality and sincere tenderness.
Now, months past, I have learned a valuable lesson from Kambly’s life and her friendship.
Friendships forged through motherhood are special. They are forces to be reckoned with, and everyone should be so lucky to have one.
They’re rare, but they’re needed. We talk about “mom tribes” a lot, and those are wonderful sources of support and care. But I’m talking about more than a tribe. What I mean is a counterpart that understands and empathizes with your highs and lows of being a young mom. Someone you can text on the fly, send ridiculous videos to, or sit and cry with. Someone you care for as much as they care for you. Someone who wears yoga pants and unbrushed hair and no makeup in your presence and still feels confident and beautiful. Someone you can confide in about your doubts and fears in this stage of life – because it’s hard. It’s so hard.
So many times since she died, I’ve found myself scrolling through our text messages. I feel such guilt for not realizing how special and rare such a friend was while I had her. Who else texted me just to say she was thinking of me? Who else texted me with five minutes’ notice to meet at the park so our babies could frolic in the leaves? Who else sent me pictures of the cute bed sheets she found on sale at Target or the hilarious charcoal toothpaste she used to whiten her teeth?
That was her. And I miss her. I miss her so much.
Several weeks after her death, I took my daughter to the playground we used to take our kids to together. Her absence had a particular sting to it that day, since it was my first time to go back since she died. I saw other moms standing around and chatting, laughing. I thought, “You should go talk to them. Go strike up a conversation.”
Then I thought, “No. They all suck. They’re not her.”
That’s grief at work. And that’s okay. But like my therapist says, there is a void in my heart now. No, it’ll never be filled like she filled it, but it’s important to welcome someone else into that space. As a young mother, I need that. We all need that.
Kambly lived with a vibrancy, honesty, and love that I so admire. She set the bar for what friendship should look like. Her capacity to love her friends and go deeper into those friendships was awe-inspiring, and my first year and a half of motherhood would have been so much darker and lonelier without her.
Her absence stings. It stings something terrible. But, you know what? Kambly would have wanted to be remembered with joy and love and hope. She would have wanted others to live with a piece of that, too. That’s why I write this.
Mamas, find your friend. Dive a little deeper with someone in your tribe. Let them into your mess just a little more, and see if they’ll let you into theirs. We need each other in order to be the best versions of ourselves because no one else understands the euphoric highs and desolate lows of being a mom except us. So lean into those precious, rare friendships.
Maybe it’ll take time. Maybe you’ll feel like you’re dating around for a new mom BFF. But it’s worth it to find that sister who links arms with you on the bumpy road of motherhood, day in and day out. I’m slowly but surely walking that road again, working to consciously value the friendships I have and embrace them more fully.
I’ve never been more grateful for anything than I am for Kambly’s life and the legacy she left behind. My heart (along with so many others’) will carry a scar forever. But I now see the importance and value of not just having a mom friend – but cherishing and nurturing that relationship. It’s a special one.
So, sisters in motherhood, get out there and find your momrade-in-arms. You need her. And she needs you.