On the day of my firstborn's 10th birthday, I'm reflecting on a 10-year friendship.
We first met in prenatal class, at our midwives' office. My husband and I forgot our pillows and held up the class—awkward when you're one of only two couples. She and her husband didn't mind. They made fun of us instead.
Betsy wore her hair in braided pigtails and didn't roll her eyes when I said we were going to give cloth diapers a try; she was too. When we were incapacitated with embarrassed laughter, during the breathing exercises, she and her husband joined in.
We parted that afternoon with good luck wishes and good-natured threats about not going into labour on the same day (we shared due dates and a favourite midwife).
I didn't see her again until our babies were eight-months-old. Our midwives held an annual holiday party for families in their care. Betsy saw me from across the room and came at me with her warm and infectious smile. We caught one another up on our birth stories (we both ended up with unexpected c-sections) and swapped some stories about motherhood.
She asked for my number and I gave it over. At that time, I was getting up with my daughter five times a night. She didn't travel well, didn't like strollers or car seats, and was wary of any new situations. I had resigned myself to sitting out of play dates and play groups. It was lonely and I was getting lost.
Betsy called, like she said she would. And when I tried to explain that a play date wouldn't work, she cut me short and said, "Well good, she's going to have to be loud if she wants to be heard over top of my kid!" And then she laughed. She laughed about her own frustrations and how imperfect it all was.
I showed up the next day and lumbered through the baby's crying jags and my own feelings of despair. I don't know if she could see them, but I do know she saw me. And she kept wanting to see me. We went for walks, had picnics, ordered Chinese take-out, joined a play group together.
Betsy banished my self-directed criticisms. She showed me the importance of dealing with whatever was in front of me with whatever I had to give in that moment. She helped me to see that it's always enough.
Our friendship has grown through several more children and long-distances and most of our day-to-day chatter has moved beyond the subject of our kids. She makes me better and wiser.
Every mom should have a friend like mine; every girl should have a Betsy.