Over many years, I spent hours in a depressing room waiting for a surgeon to tell me how my daughter had fared in her latest procedure. Though I always gripped my husband’s hand, tethered to him in love and an unarguably strong connection, the tension of days like this was something we often couldn’t relieve for each other. We both knew everything the other did and had little real comfort to offer. We felt far from home – we were together, but we were still lost.
In reality, the moment a surgeon arrived with good news for us, time after time, the first people I wanted to tell (after my daughter’s grandparents) were always a cluster of women who I knew, without a doubt, were waiting in their homes and offices to hear from me. I could picture them: one at her kitchen counter, washing the breakfast dishes and activating her mother’s prayer group on the east coast; one at her desk, quietly meditating and sending healing energy; one on her commute to the office to see therapy clients, her hair blowing dry in the breeze from her car’s heater; one in her classroom, lecturing high school students at the top of her voice; one on a stoic and wind-blown walk at the lake with her dog; and one, across an ocean on the other side of the world, at the end of her day, staying awake to hear the news of what happened in that aging room where I waited.
These are my soul sisters.
That cliché feels like the only descriptor I can use for the women who have lifted me and my family up and held us in the kind of love that only other mothers can give. I felt undeserving of that love until I realized how similarly invested I am in their lives and families – how I, too, wait for news of their children’s asthma and first periods and soccer team tryouts, their husband’s job searches and basketball injuries, their parents’ illnesses and visits, their own triumphs and health scares. We are wrapped in each other’s lives. The pain is spread and becomes less, while the joy seems to only magnify as it touches each of us.
Mothers know. We know each other on a level that our supportive and adored husbands cannot. Mothers know the feeling in our bodies that spreads across years so that the first time a child does anything can be as meaningful as that first kick we feel in pregnancy. The details of our daily lives vary, but the universal is this: we know the shape of each other’s hearts, and that shape is formed by motherhood.
I would not be the mother I am to my daughters without these women in my life. From them, I have learned new routes to patience, spirituality, efficiency, assertiveness, calm, and open-mindedness. I have laughed with them, cried with them, journeyed and sat still and marveled together at where we have been and where we might go.
These mothers have given me support and allowed me to support them – not in return, but in widening ripples where the original help is a legend we know from somewhere primitive. The original help, the first favor, is the one that brought us into each other’s lives. The universe that gave us a set of collective experiences and emotions when we became mothers also gave us the ability to share them with each other.
It seems like fate. Thrown into experiences we can’t predict, my friends hold hands in the dark – and now, we are better together.