(Preface- I wrote a blog post while sitting in my daughters dance studio. I was 75% done with that post and word press didn’t save it as a draft. So here I go again and I hope this one is as good as that draft).
Meeting Tiffany in the scrapbooking class altered my trajectory of motherhood. When I first became a stay at home Mom, I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I struggled with post part I’m depression and distinctly remember crying at the grocery store while choosing oranges. The young produce clerk came up to ask me if I was ok. With my new baby in the cart in his carrier, I was sobbing and said “I juuuust had a baaaaaaby and I feel so isolated”. He looked shell shocked at me, and went about his day.
The MOMS club opened up a lifeline of friendship and activities as well as a babysitting co-op. We would attend an activity or two a week which was helpful to get out of the house and stop feeling so isolated. As the baby got older I signed up for the babysitting co-op and this is where friendships grew deeper and I got the occasional break.
Tiffany and I would meet with a group of friends to scrapbook every month, usually 6pm-Midnight and it flew by. Ive always been passionate about photos and stories, and this was bringing the two together. Tiffany and I spent a lot of time together raising our kids. We met every Monday night to watch The Bachelor and eat our favorite Boy Scout blue bag popcorn. We vacationed together at her parents beach house, and eventually as our kids got older, we would go on Moms Only weekends to the beach.
The MOMS club was my lifeline in those early years of parenting. From bringing new Moms meals, to my friends helping me as I went through two miscarriages, losing my Mother-in-Law and then being on bed rest when we first bough a house. They were my village. In 2004, I was on bed rest and pregnant with my 2nd child and had a 4-year old. My new house was still in boxes. I was forbidden to unpack anything and was supposed to lay flat for the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy. I spoke with one of the Moms and mentioned how my new house didn’t feel like a home. I needed to get it unpacked. That Friday night, the doorbell rang, and it was a brigade of about 10 Moms who arrived with cleaning supplies, dinner and came to unpack my WHOLE house.
Two weeks later, Tiffany was in town and was able to be in the delivery room when I delivered baby number 2, 4-weeks early. She took photos of the birth and was able to visit in the NICU. She had earlier moved out of town and was back to visit. The timing aligned for her to be there for the birth.
In 2008, I was ready for a weekend away. We decided to rent a beach house and invite some of our crafting friends for a weekend. That weekend was the beginning of a tribe that has been at my side for the past 10 years. A group of eclectic women who don’t do drama, and who would literally give you the shirt off their backs. Over the years, the people have slightly changed, but for the past 5 years it’s been pretty consistent. I have “collected” people in areas of my life. I tend to be a pretty good judge of character and if I thought they would mesh well with the other ladies, I would invite them. My theory has always been, “it’s better to be invited and say no, than to not be invited at all”. The ladies often refer to me as the glue that keeps the tribe together. I’d like to introduce the ladies to you in the order they came into my life.
You have heard about Tiffany. She was a founding member of the Beach Babes group in 2008.
Anne really came into my life first. We met when we were interns at Disneyland in 1993. Anne was one of my three assigned room mates. We both worked on Main Street U.S.A. In the gift shops and in merchandising. Once that internship ended, we kept in touch via letters, eventually email, and then in 2000 we were expecting boys six weeks apart. We have since raised those boys to 18, but still feel like we are 19 & 20. Anne gives great Dr. Laura type advice. She is the sense of reason to my emotions. I always know she will talk truth into my life with love. My favorite trait about Anne is her advice. I remember calling Anne 3-weeks after our sons were born. I had my husband home for the first two weeks post partum and my best friend came from Florida for the third week. On the fourth week I needed to figure out what to do with the baby when I showered. I called Anne and asked her the question. She half laughed, and said “put him in the baby bouncer in the bathroom with you.” Problem solved. Anne and I text a lot about random things, but my favorite is in 2011, I was pumping in the car in the walmart parking lot after we had drove down to visit my husbands family. I texted Anne, “I’m pimping in the Walmart parking lot”. She replied, “surely you can get more in a different location”.
Donna Lyn came to my life when I was at a CAbi home party for a mutual acquaintance. I had just had my second child, and I remeber looking at Donna Lyn sitting with three kids hanging off of her, and thinking “She is so calm”. She spoke so kindly to her kids with patience that I admired. From that meeting she became one of my best customers in my previous direct sales business, and along the way a best friend. Donna Lyn is also a founding member of the Beach Babes and was at the first beach retreat we attended. Donna Lyn walks on a path with God that is such an inspiration to me. She is a faith filled woman who relies on God. She truly prays about things as much as she talks about them. I used to want to be Donna Lyn when I “grew up”, but instead of trying to be her, I am much richer for having her in my life. We have been through some HARD stuff. On both of our sides with our kids. When my Mom died, she felt my pain as deeply as I did and I saw her in tears when she was talking to me. She arranged a meal train, and cleaned my house while we had the Estate Sale. She watched my kids and I never had to worry if my youngest was taken care of, it allowed me to focus on putting one foot in front of the other as I walked the path of grief.
If anything should happen to my husband and me, she and her husband are named the guardians of our children. My youngest thinks Donna Lyn is the best, and when she is angry at me will say “I’m going to live at the W’s.” Donna Lyn and I recently took a trip to Disneyland for her daughters dance competition. We had the best time, being two adults in the happiest place on Earth. I am so thankful to have had that weekend with her sharing our hearts, riding cars 10x, and taking naps before heading back into the parks.
Kim came to me through Anne. Kim was a college friend of Anne’s and we had hung out a few times. Kim was also a founding member of the Beach Babes. Kim and I are often mistaken for sisters with our light hair and freckles. What I admire most about Kim is the way she celebrates EVERY holiday. The smallest of holidays get the grand treatment from Kim. She is building memories for her boys that will last a lifetime. She is a strong boy Mom who has instilled into her boys work ethic. Kim never has a bad thing to say about anyone, and she makes the best coleslaw and pulled pork sandwiches. Kim lost her Mom less than a year after I lost mine. When I saw her in the Target parking lot, we stopped for hugs and to chat. My heart was breaking for her. I knew the road to healing is a long one, and I personally knew what she was going to go through. She finds rainbows that remind her of her Mom, and always at the right times. Just like I find hearts that remind me of my Mom.
Cheryl was a coworker of my husband Marty and they traveled to Tennessee together. Marty and Cheryl had a code word “Mistletoe” (Like in the movie Four Christmasses) if she needed rescued from a gentleman at that business trip. One night they were walking after dinner an ad Cheryl mentioned she scrapbooks. Marty said “My wife does too and is hosting an event at our home in a few weeks”. Cheryl was new to the area, so I reached out to her and invited her. She said yes. She arrived that day with all her scrapbooking bags and her laugh that is larger than life itself. She was an instant Beach Babe. We all adored her. Cheryl is a STRONG woman, who works in a field that’s catered to mostly men. She has made her place at the table with those men, without losing her femininity. When I was put on hospital bed rest with my third pregnancy, I was also insulin dependent diabetic. Cheryl would sneak in half-cut sweet teas for me and molasses ginger cookies from the downstairs deli. After the baby was born 6-weeks early, Cheryl would relieve Marty at the hospital and sit with me. I was on a mangnesium drip for my blood pressure. I would fall asleep midsentance, wake up, apologize and do it all over again for hours. Cheryl was gracious and understanding. Once I was able to go to the NICU Cheryl would wheel me down there in the wheel chair, and we never knew what she was going to run me into. Being an Engineer is great, but she wasn’t a great wheelchair driver, and we laugh about it to this day.
Karen was in the peanut gallery with me at intensive swim lessons in 2010. She recognized my son and asked if we attended school at MW. Turns out she ran the marble maze for the carnival and my son and his best friend were repeat customers. We had all summer to get to know each other. Lessons were M-F for 10 weeks. Turns out she is also a scrapbooker so I suggested she join us at a monthly crop, then she came on retreats. She hosted my baby shower for my third child. She is my FUN friend. She is the one who will go into the ocean fully clothed, just because it looks fun. She is light in her worries, and generous beyond comprehension. Her passion is for the kids in the school district and she serves on the school board. She doesn’t scrapbook as much, but shows up instead with paper crafting kits. She loves puzzles and all things blue. She has ran more than two school auctions. She loves her two boys and husband. She’s the type of friend who wants to help you solve your problems. She is a great listener.
I met Jan at the scrapbooking store in Fall of 2011. It was right after I had my third baby and I was back to hanging with my ladies once a month and pumping in the car. Jan is a Pediatric ICU nurse. She came on her first retreat with us in 2013. She is an amazing friend. I used to refer to her as “like my second Mom”, but I realized she’s so much more than that. It was a term of endearment. I used to call her Mamma Jan, because she gave great motherly advice. But it was also a the time the show Honey Boo Boo was on TV, and they referred to her mom as Mamma June. Too close and Jan isn’t anything like that train wreck. Jan was by my side through many hard things in my life. When my Mom coded out in the hospital in 2016, she was the first person I called. She dropped everything and came to be with me in the hospital. For 13-days she was by my side explaining options, asking questions, bringing me food, and helping me make hard decisions like “what day would you like to end life support for your Mom?”. When mom was in the hospital after a bout of peritonitis, Jan helped me clean my Moms apartment top to bottom, after her nursing shift. She has been at dentist appointments for one of my kids, blood draws for another and helped me navigate the emotions of sending my oldest to college this fall. Last year we both had the movie pass and would meet up for a weekly movie. Jan is going through some health things, and she doesn’t let them stop her from living her life. She has so much to offer, and I will forever be grateful she is in my life.
These women all are from different backgrounds, and with the exception of Anne & Kim, they didn’t know each other before. They trusted me to bring them into my group. To love on them and do life with them. These women bring vulnerability to the table and allow it to be seen. We love each other regardless of our different political views. We are far from perfect, but we are perfectly imperfect.
Form Brene’ Brown’s book Daring Greatly she shares a quote that’s from the movie Almost Famous “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is that you have to share with someone else you’re uncool”. Brown goes on to say, “To be on my list you have to be what I call a “stretch mark friend”- Our connection has to be stretched and pulled so much that its become a part of who were are, a second skin, and there are a few scars to prove it. We’re totally uncool with each other.”
Maybe life isn’t about avoiding the bruises, maybe its about collecting the scars to prove we showed up for it. These women have shown up for me, and stood in the gap more times than I can count.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t made mistakes along the way of building my tribe. I will share those in part 3 of this series of posts on grown up friendship.
Until next time,