I remember the day I met one of my best friends, Katie. Her first memory of me involves me being an idiot, going on and on in the community bathroom about my boyfriend at the time and how talented he was. (This, by the way, sums up that relationship). Like everyone else, she smiled, nodded, and probably wanted to gag or roll her eyes. However, my first memory of her involves her typing at her desk with crazy, silver-sparkly hair. She’s an actress and had just gotten out of a play. She was doing one of her many hilarious voices, and for some reason, I was captivated by her. I knew I wanted, even in some small way, to be a part of her sparkly, hysterical life. She’s a command-the-room type person without trying to be, and she’s beautiful in such a unique way like great models usually are. Her heart has a rare purity too, and I just knew that if we were friends, my life would be better for it.
Thankfully for me, as time went on, we morphed into a certain version of each other and became so close that I feel like she’s not only a dear friend, but an extension of me in the best way. We can have conversations without words and frequently finish each others’ sentences. It’s the best kind of friendship, which is why our reunion this past week after four whole years of separation was so precious & special.
Kate took the opportunity to meet Jack when he was one, but in the past four years, we’ve collectively had three more children. I have been wanting to get my hands on Eisley and Thatcher for years, because their mama is one of the people I treasure the most. Their visit was amazing, challenging (as to be expected with littles), and totally refreshing.
Thatcher & Oliver
Jack and Eisley catch a frog in Ada (this photo was worth the entire trip)
The boys that stole our hearts, and our first born loves
We’ve always shared our faith; but even from a distance, I have noticed an anchoring in Katie. She always, first-and-foremost, wanted to be a mother, but the experience for her has turned out to be inexplicably holy. All of the vitality I loved about her pre-motherhood life has been focused on these two miraculous people (well, three, including her awesome and adoring husband Chris), and it’s as if each morning over breakfast spills and bed head, she is seeing them as newborns for the first time.
This was especially revitalizing for me because lately I haven’t felt like I’ve been the greatest mom to my boys. Sure, we all get down on ourselves and usually we need to give ourselves some grace. But, in all honesty, there are times when I can just downright be a better mom. I can close the computer, leave the dishes undone, get eye-level with Jack, explain things thoroughly. I can play for longer periods of time. I can smile more like Katie does, just at the sight of them.
One of my greatest challenges is that I need about a thousand hours of sleep per week to feel most capable of handling what life throws at me, and I haven’t slept through the night in nearly a year. When I’m tired, my logic is compromised, my joy is shriveled, and my patience feels long gone. I’m obnoxiously aware enough of these compromises, but I’m too exhausted to let the more loving, calm, patient me emerge. Even though I know she’s in there somewhere, my 4-year-old gets perplexed and even sad.
Which is why being around Katie was even better than usual this time around. We both tend to love in silly ways. We make up songs, give wild hugs, and love the element of surprise. We both scoop up our kids and slather them with kisses. We use ridiculous nicknames (in college, we referred to each other as Amber and Susan*). We’re adoring friends and even more adoring mothers. But I’ve slumped in this area, feeling buried under the daily stress of teething babies, tantrums, and continued battles over Jack’s basic needs. I’ve felt deflated, and it’s hard to be outrageously loving toward your kids when you’re barely hanging on.
But I’ve realized that a really good friendship can inspire you, challenge you, and direct you…but in subtle ways while also making you laugh. As Katie and her beautiful clan pulled out of our driveway to head back to Iowa, we all felt wiped out from vacationing with kids; but, I was revitalized and refocused on what really matters. I want to hold my boys closer and make them feel treasured. Like the Saldanhas, I want to worship with my family, gathering around the piano or guitar just to praise Him for the gift of each other. I want to make our little life more Gospel-centered. And, more than anything, I want our togetherness as a family of four to be one of my greatest experiences of joy. Every day.
Kate, thanks for being all that you are: life-giving, hilarious, generous, and faithful. I’m so proud of the mama you have become and the family you and Chris are raising. Thanks for sharing your life and heart with me for the past twelve years and for many more to come.
*I can’t believe I’m outing this, but Amber was short for Victoria’s Secret’s fragrance Amber Romance. And Susan referred to Susan Sarandon. Can’t really explain it.