Category Archives: As a Woman…

The argument for SAHMs, and against Amy Glass

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This week, the blogging world exploded when Amy Glass blatantly put down stay at home moms (SAHMs) when she wrote a blog titled “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry“.

Here are a few token quotes:

“Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself? There’s no way those two things are the same. It’s hard for me to believe it’s not just verbally placating these people so they don’t get in trouble with the mommy bloggers.”

“You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.”

What can I say about Amy Glass?

Well, first, what can I say about my own experience?

I am one of the lucky moms who have experienced both SAHM-dom and being a working mom. Both have their perks. Both also have their downfalls. As a working mom, I look with envy at SAHMs. I’m envious that they have time to make their kids lunches every day before school, and are home to help them with homework when the kids get home. I’m jealous that they get to join the PTA, or volunteer in the classroom, or have the time to really investigate what’s going on when Johnny’s grades start slipping. Some of the SAHMs I know are the ones whose kids look the most put together, and have socks that actually match, while you can see my kid’s socks peeking through his holey sneakers because I haven’t actually found the time to take him shoe shopping.

I feel like I’d have so much more time as a SAHM. But then I remember what the reality was.

I did the stay-at-home mom thing in the first year of my daughter’s life, and in the first several months of my son’s. We moved to a new city and I had no friends. I spent my whole day being mom, talking to babies, cleaning up messes, keeping the kids entertained…. I was jealous of my husband who got to go out and make a living and talk to other adults while I stayed home in sweats and smelling of spit-up. I had dreams, too. But those got put on the back burner while my husband became the breadwinner, and I kept the home straight. My expertise became vested in keeping the household running and the kids thriving. But my self-worth? It mistakenly plummeted. I felt like I a big fat nobody. I mean, how do you incorporate your homemaker skills onto a resume? How do you keep up with the world when the majority of your news media exists on PBS, Disney, and Nickelodeon? How do you not feel jealous when you see attractive women exiting their cars to walk towards their big office jobs, wearing pencil skirts and carrying briefcases, when I’m juggling a baby on my hip and breakfast remnants in my hair?

It was our meager finances that finally dictated my need for a job. But honestly, I was relieved to get back to the work force and take a break from the littles. My new job became my vacation from my real job. And whenever I get a little jealous over a few of my friends who are lucky to be able to stay home with their kids, I remember how much I suck at keeping a stay-at-home schedule, and how hard it was to get time off from a job that was pretty much around the clock.

Mom kidsAs I reflect on this opinion that Ms. Glass has, I can’t help but feel like she wrote it simply to attract a ton of attention to her blog, and nothing else. I mean, if you look now, there are more than 10,000 comments both applauding her stance and blasting her words. However, I feel sorry for her too, because it’s apparent she feels the need to bring herself attention by slamming a whole group of people for a significant choice in their life – a choice that means the world to their family.

And I can also only guess that she doesn’t have children. If she did, she’d understand the miracle that exists in their very first breath, and the way it feels to see the world through their eyes, and the Jekyll and Hyde emotions of wanting to strangle said kid when they’re being total buttheads while simultaneously willing to give them her very last breath if it meant they could keep on living. She’d understand the sacrifice that goes into being a SAHM, of sometimes feeling like the world is on one realm while she’s stuck in the land of tikes, even while understanding that this is where it is most important for her to be. She’d understand what it’s like to give up a career and a paycheck, throwing herself into her child’s future instead. She’d understand that fine balance of devoting time to the family while keeping her self-worth, and the daily struggle of not putting her whole entire identity into being the mom of her child.

I guess I can’t be mad at her, either, though I do feel a little judgey about her writing such an obvious ploy piece to gather hits for her blog. I can’t fault her. I clicked. I read. I’m responding.

Truthfully, no person – mom, or not – should be looked down upon for their life choice if that is what their calling is meant to be. If you are meant to backpack Asia, awesome! If you’re meant to work full time while also raising a family, good job! And if you devote your time to your kids as a stay at home mom, fantastic!

We all would do better to pull each other up instead of putting each other down.

Note: I became aware of this post by Amy Glass when my cousin posted her own rebuttal. She is much more eloquent than I am, and definitely more forgiving. Read what she has to say HERE.

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The one where I’m unable to accept HELP.

My husband and I take part in a cooking team that makes meals for the Sunday service at our church. We only do it once a month, and it’s admittedly a lot of fun. But it’s also 4+ hours of hard work prepping, cooking, cleaning, setting up, serving, tearing down, cleaning more… You get the picture.

Our team consists of four members with random help on the side. But mostly, our group of four is responsible for seeing things through. We each took on a job to get the meal – nachos – done. I decided to take on the cheese sauce. And since I would be at the stove anyway, I’d take on browning the turkey too.

More than once, I was asked if I needed help. And every time I insisted I was fine. I was determined to get it done, to prove I could do it all.

I set about the kitchen, running back and forth to get the meat into the pan while the butter melted for the cheese sauce. I got the rue going, and then began adding milk. Then I rushed back to the meat to make sure it wasn’t burning. I finished adding the milk to the rue and stirred it.

And then I smelled it. Burnt.

Thing is, if I had asked for help, none of that would have happened. I had to bite back my pride and admit that the sauce was ruined. There was no more butter, so one of the guys had to go to the store to get some more. And when he came back, I asked him if he could be in charge of the sauce while I focused on the meat.

The story would be fine ending there. But it doesn’t.

After handing off the cheese sauce, my only job was to stir the two pans of meat in front of me. I could handle this, I got this. My pride was terribly wounded from the cheese sauce fiasco, but I was determined to get the meat cooking right. So when one of the girls came up to see if I could use some help, I told her NO. She started stirring one of the pans anyway.

“But this is my job,” I protested, as if I were a 5 year old guarding my mountain of blocks.

“But my job is done,” she cheerfully replied. So we stood together, all three of us surrounding this stove to finish cooking everything up.  At first I was terribly bothered. It was too crowded. And she was probably stepping in so I couldn’t screw this up too. I felt tied up in knots inside. But then, I decided to let it go. I took a deep breath and let it out. And then we all chatted the rest of the time. It was actually fun.

The meal was done, and we set it out to serve it. I stayed with the turkey while my husband poured the cheese sauce. The other guy offered to take over for me so I could eat, but I told him I was fine. When the line dispersed, I got my own plate. Then I served the stragglers in between bites.

Once everyone had eaten, it was time to start bagging things up. We all started putting things away. The cheese sauce had a ton leftover, so I started pouring it in bags so people could take some home. It was a messy job, and by the fifth bag I was beginning to wonder if it would ever be over.

“Here, I’ll hold this for you,” the girl said to me.

“I got it,” I said.

This time she didn’t fight me. And I saw myself in her eyes as she gave up and walked away.

grumpy girlI was selfish. I was unfriendly. I was a snob. I couldn’t find it in me to step down off my pedestal and accept that I NEEDED HELP.

What is wrong with me? I hate that I do this! The truth is, I can always use some help! I can’t do it on my own! And there’s nothing wrong with working together to get things done.

It might just be my single-mother syndrome. I spent all those years actually doing things on my own, and taking pride in that. Before that, I hadn’t been able to do anything on my own at all. I depended on everyone. But when I got on my feet and was able to provide for my kids without a husband, without my parents, without state money…it just felt good.

But now? Now I’ve got this chip in my shoulder that has me believing that accepting help is a sign of weakness, when it’s totally the opposite of that. There are strength in numbers. And we are here on this planet to build each other up.

I didn’t like that person I was on Sunday. I’m embarrassed at the way I acted. But maybe it needed to happen to drive the lesson home that it’s okay to receive help. We can all use help. It gets things done faster, and it builds connections.

I think this is going to be a hard lesson to forget.

Want more? Download “Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows” – our Wine Country Mom stories about our former single-parent family life.

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What I bring to the table.

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“Your writing is so amazing,” Shawn told me, coming downstairs after spending an hour with the rough draft of my novel he’s been proofreading for the past several days. “I can see that you’ve taken some of the suggestions I’ve given you and grown as a writer.”

He meant it as a compliment. And I swear I heard it in there. But what I also heard was, “I’m glad I happened to come along and save you from a doomed life of writing badly. How would you have every survived if I weren’t here to hold you up?”

“I haven’t even read the revisions from the last novel,” I told him. Well, that was only partially true. Admittedly, this was at the same time I was revising a novel I wrote last year, reading over the notes he had made in the margin on parts that needed a little more help. While I hadn’t taken the time to pore over the suggestions he had left me, I had skimmed through it and appreciated the honest remarks he had left, both exclaiming over the parts he loved and suggesting places that needed a little more fleshing out. And now as I went through the physical act of revising, his notes gave me clear-cut clues on what a reader would be wondering as well.

But still, my pride wouldn’t let him take credit for all I had pored into it.

“What do you mean?” he asked. I could already feel the half-eaten foot in my mouth swelling to try and prevent me from speaking. But I only pushed it aside and continued.

“I mean, I’ve grown as a writer because of continued practice, not because you’ve taught me how to do it,” I said, trying to sound light but feeling backed into a corner.

“I’m not trying to take credit for your writing,” he told me. The smile on his face had long since disappeared, leaving behind a look of bewilderment at a reaction he hadn’t been expecting.

“I know, I’m sorry. It’s just, what if I were to say ‘Great job on selling search engine optimization at your new job. Thank goodness you have me to teach you all about the internet so you can do your job properly’.”

“I’m not saying that, though,” he stammered. “I’m trying to pay you a compliment! Maybe I should just stop reading your novel.”

“If you don’t want to read it, then don’t!” I yelled at him.

And just like that, things went from dumb to completely idiotic.

I didn’t know why I was reacting so strongly. Of course he wasn’t taking credit for my writing. I knew that deep down. But for some reason his statement was pecking at me, taking away from my accomplishment even when that wasn’t Shawn’s intention at all.

When we had cooled down some, we gave each other a wounded offering of apology. I’m not sure either of us meant it completely, both still smarting from the earlier argument. But it was the only way to move past the surface and dig deep into what was really going on.

“What is going on?” he asked me.

“I don’t know,” I told him.  But it was starting to come to me, a series of past hurdles I’d overcome that decided I wasn’t done running from them yet.

“I once dated a man who told me to my face that he had saved me from being a white trash nobody, how he had single-handedly raised my standard of living just by his presence alone,” I admitted to him, detailing how even then that statement hadn’t sat well with me, yet my meek little self had accepted it in the moment. I described how my ex-husband had also placed himself in this pedestal position – or rather, I had placed him there on my own. I had spent so many years building him up and letting him shine that I had forgotten to work on my own being. And somehow I was able to explain something I hadn’t even realized was haunting me, how important it was for me now to stand on my own two feet in recognition of my accomplishments.

“You’re organized and responsible,” I told him. It was in reference to a statement he had made earlier last week, stating that he must be rubbing off on me as I encouraged the kids to clean up their mess. “But I have some of those traits as well, and I had them before I even met you.” I was firm in my insistence of this, but we both could hear the question that lingered within it.

“Are you unsure of what you bring to the table in this marriage, how you help ME to be a better person?” he asked me. I paused, suddenly realizing I didn’t know the answer to this question, at least not in this moment. I had spent so much energy fighting against another pedestal that  I couldn’t think of any of the strengths I possessed that helped bring Shawn up.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess I help you with patience, and how to parent a teenage daughter.” The answer was weak, I knew it.

Unfortunately time was not on our side. We were minutes away from needing to get in the car and drive to my parents’ house for dinner. We made peace with the conclusion of our discussion, deciding that even if the conversation wasn’t finished, we could still end it with a hug and a mutual unspoken agreement that it was over.

We spent a really good evening at my parents’ house, visiting with my family over dinner and dessert before saying goodbye and driving back home. On the way, Frizz turned on the radio and let it scan through the stations. Every time it landed on a song we knew, the kids and I would break into song and fill the car with mostly on-key versions, belting out the words we knew and stumbling over the ones we didn’t. Even Frizz joined in, the act of singing in the privacy of our car still cool in his 17-year-old mind.

Once home, I began to decorate the Christmas tree, a task we had been putting off for days. Little by little, everyone joined in, placing their favorite ornament on the tree as we remembered where each one came from. It was done in no time, slightly lopsided in the areas that were decorated more than others, but beautiful just the same.

DQ and I then set to filling out December’s activities on the dry erase calendar that hung on the wall. We took turns giggling as we noted the End of the World with a zombie apocalypse on December 21st, adorning it with pictures of hungry zombies that invaded the day’s space. We continued our giggles as I noted the San Francisco trip we were taking the very next day when we ultimately survived the day of doom. I finished up the calendar with various doodles depicting a month of activities in a colorful display.

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Shawn leaned over me in my dedication to the calendar, kissing me lightly on the neck. “Do you know what you bring to this marriage, and to the family?” he asked me. “Fun.  You help me to be more fun, and you make things more fun in this family.  I never would do stuff like this.  But you do, and we all appreciate it.

The whole family was in the living room, enjoying a few last moments of silliness before bedtime.  The evening had been spent with mostly smiles.   The calendar had become a monthly point of anticipation as everyone wondered how I would decorate it at the turn of the month.

And I believed in what Shawn said.

I know I have improved in every facet of my life by the steps I have taken to get to where I am today. This is true in the quality of my life, just as it is true in the skills I possess in my writing. But these accomplishments didn’t just manifest entirely of their own accord. They were inspired partially by those that influenced me along the way. Each novel I have written in the past few years has proven to be better than the last, proof that practice makes perfect. But admittedly, this last novel improved leaps and bounds as I (ok, I admit it) took the suggestions Shawn had made and kept them in mind as I extended my description and prose. It’s ok to be inspired by others. In fact, it would be a lie to believe otherwise.

And it doesn’t make my accomplishments any less great than they are. 🙂

7 tips for busy moms

This article publishes in the Press Democrat on July 13.

One of the favorite phrases of kids is, “I’m bored.” You know, as in they have nothing to do, would like to be entertained, have finished all the play they had on their list of things to do and literally don’t know what to do with themselves.

I do not understand the concept of boredom.

Seems like once you have children, being bored becomes a luxury. If I’m not carpooling kids, making something to eat for a hungry child, signing paperwork for school/camp/sports, attending a dance recital or soccer tournament, cleaning up in front of the adolescent tornado following me around, or entertaining said-bored children, I’m mulling over all these things on a constant rotation in my head. And if I ever get on the verge of this so-called “bored” feeling, it’s usually overcome by guilt over all the things I think I should be doing.

Moms are busy creatures. There isn’t much time outside day-to-day family life that allows for us to have down time or an opportunity to reconnect with friends. However, time away from the “have-to-do” stuff is just as vital as checking off every item from that to-do list.

Here are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way in balancing the seesaw between my personal self and my job as mom:

1. Have a list, but keep it short. I know you have a lot you need to do, but weigh out those things that need to be done now, and those that can be done later. When you are making out the list of tasks you hope to accomplish that day, ensure that it allows for a finishing point rather than a competition in getting the most things done in a short amount of time.

And on that note …

2. Don’t procrastinate. This is why a short list is important. Turn off the TV and avoid anything that might be distracting (besides the kids). Then, get the big things out of the way first before focusing on the easier tasks. The longer you avoid your must-dos, the longer they take up residence in your head. And seriously, there’s got to be better things to think about than your to-do list, right?

3. Keep things clean. Have a set day each week for deep cleaning, and a set time each day for a quick tidy up. Get the other family members in the habit of picking up after themselves. Make sure the dishes are washed after every meal, and clean as you go while cooking dinner. It might take some effort at first, but after a bit of repetition, it will become second nature. If your house stays fairly neat on a regular basis, you won’t be stuck constantly cleaning it — or embarrassed when people drop by unexpectedly.

4. Learn how to say no. I know, the world needs your help. The classroom might fall apart if you don’t volunteer as snack mom. The soccer team will cease to exist if you aren’t the one making the banner. And how will all the neighborhood kids get to school if you’re not the one driving them? Trust me, everything will go smoothly even if you’re not the one getting it done. Take back some of your free time by practicing an assertive NO now and again, from signing your daughter up for another dance class to being the family taking care of Sniffles the Hamster for the summertime.

5. Rediscover your ME time. Let Dad take over the kids while you rediscover your love of painting. Grab a book and head to a secluded grassy knoll. Take yourself out to coffee. Do what you love all by yourself without kids hanging off your legs. But careful, this newfound freedom is intoxicating!

6. For all you married gals, date your husband. You know, that guy who lives with you? The one who signed up for this crazy mess with you and is still around? Leave the kids with Grandma (or set up an after-bedtime candlelit dinner) and remind yourself exactly why you keep making kids with this sexy guy you’ve married.

7. Find your friends. Before you had kids, you were going out all the time. So what happened? Well, you had to trade in your beer goggles for diaper genies, that’s what. But even after kids it’s important to have interests outside of Elmo and sippy cups. If going out is difficult, invite your friend to hang with you at the park, or to just enjoy a cup of coffee at your kitchen table. Catch up over a morning walk around the neighborhood. When you start raising a family, it’s especially vital to have friends around to support and love you.

Seven ways to escape the SAHM rut


When you’re a stay-at-home mom, there’s a tendency to feel like every day is the same. Unlike 9-5ers, your job is never quite finished. You don’t get to leave at the end of the day. And let’s face it – some days are just BORING. To beat the rut, here are SEVEN tips to change things up and add a bit more excitement to your week.

1. Schedule in your fun
If you save all your fun for the weekend, there really isn’t much to look forward to during the week. Instead, schedule something you’d normally reserve for Saturday and Sunday for a mid-week day. Attend Museum Mondays for little ones at the Charles Schulz museum. Pack a picnic and visit Spring Lake. Grab your coats and head out to the coast. You can even plan a late night watching movies or playing board games with the kids. It will give everyone something to look forward to during the week instead of waiting till the weekend to have fun.

2. Leave the house
When the kids are small, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to take them out of the house. Trust me, it’s vital for your sanity! Whether your little one is only a few weeks old or in his final months before kindergarten, leaving the house is an absolute must. Put the baby in the stroller and take a walk around the block. Bundle up your toddler and race to the park. Schedule a play date with a friend or join a gym with free daycare. Just do something so that you’re not imprisoned within the same four walls 24/7.

3. Split the chores
We all have chores we don’t love. At the same time, we have partners and/or kids who don’t seem to mind the tasks we hate. For me, I’m not especially keen on putting dishes away. But washing them? I’ll gladly do it. For Mr. W, he hates folding laundry but has no problem putting them in the washer and putting them away once I’m done folding them. Together we divide and conquer the things that must be done to keep the house running smoothly. If you’re overwhelmed by a certain task, consider asking your spouse to take it over.

4. Limit unnecessary timesucks
That iPhone that’s constantly under your thumbs? The computer with Facebook as its home page? The TV with shows incessantly screaming at you? It’s all distracting you from what you’re really supposed to be doing. And because of that, it’s adding stress, restlessness, boredom, and guilt to your already hectic schedule. But you don’t need to give it up completely. Instead of spending unlimited amounts of time on the computer or playing on your phone, consider scheduling your tech time. Tell yourself you can use your favored device for 15 minutes after you finish folding all the laundry. Or schedule a limited amount of time once the kids go down for a nap.

5. Don’t procrastinate
If you’re waking up each morning already dreading the day, I’m willing to bet there are some pretty big tasks on your plate you’re just not looking forward to. My advice? Get it all done right away. By procrastinating, you’re allowing that heavy burden to take up space in your mind much longer than it needs to. By tackling it first thing in the morning you leave the rest of the day free for something more fun. On that note, don’t make it impossible to get it all done. Schedule just enough so that you can cross that final errand off the list and be done for the day.

6. Find a hobby
Show of hands – who here introduces themselves as their child’s mom? “Hi, I’m Taz’ mom.” That’s what I thought. You might be getting burnt out because you’ve placed your whole identity into being your child’s mother, and have lost yourself in the interim. Break free from the one-title introduction and rediscover something you love. Take an art class. Break out that SLR camera and click away. Resurrect your inner novelist. Enjoy something you used to love pre-kids, and schedule the time to do it.

7. Take a break
9-5ers are entitled to vacation days, a lunch break, even 20 minutes to twiddle their thumbs before getting back to their job. You deserve a break too. In fact, it’s required if you want to be the best mom you can be. Swap childcare with another SAHM to have a day of alone time, catch a movie, or treat yourself to a massage. Allow the grandparents an overnight to spoil their grandkids while you and the hubby enjoy a mini staycation honeymoon. Just make sure that your free time does NOT include chores, errands, or any other “have-to-dos”.

What do you do to escape the SAHM rut?

When the sad becomes too big


I met my friend “Lisa” about 6 years ago when she was a new mother, and a single one at that. My sister introduced us, seeing how her friend felt incredibly alone in the process and needed someone who could relate. I was a little more seasoned in the single mom arena, and we hit it off immediately. It’s not often I find friendships like this, where we go from being perfect strangers to friends who confide in each other about everything. But when I do, those are the friendships that generally hold the most meaning.

My friendship with Lisa was just like that.

Over the years we became allies. At the time, neither one of us had the other parent helping out with our kids. But we did have each other. We created a babysitting swap between the two of us, watching each other’s children to create moments of sanity and reprieve from motherhood, and a chance to maybe find love in the dating world.

Being writers, we’d share our daily life stories through long-winded emails that only the two of us could appreciate. We both blogged, and were consistent in commenting in each other’s blogs. She might have been my only reader, but her hilarious blogs garnered tons of comments from all her friends and fans appreciating the laugh.

Lisa was the kind of person who said what she was thinking, even when it’s not something that should be said out loud. She pushed the envelope when she felt like it needed pushing. She never failed to shock me, or to leave me in awe of her bravery at being unapologetically herself.

I was there when she struggled in a one-bedroom apartment with a toddler. She was there for every dating disaster I subjected myself to. We overlooked each other’s messy homes and low-income living. I celebrated with her when she found Mr. Right, got engaged, and held a beautiful wedding. She was there when I found my prince among a trove of frogs and settled into a relationship that finally made sense.

And when a series of circumstances attacked her out of left field, I watched helplessly as depression overtook my beautiful friend, leaving her a shell of the women she once was.

I’ve suffered my own bout with depression. A decade ago I lived in a large house that didn’t seem to garner any light at all. We had just lost a baby to stillbirth. My marriage was failing. And our money situation was incredibly bleak. I lived in the darkness, every day excruciatingly the same. I stopped talking to my friends or leaving the house. In return, most of my friends forgot about me. I was afraid of the dark feelings inside me, as if they were an infectious disease. Caring for my kids became exhausting. Just getting up and walking in the other room to make them something to eat made me feel so tired. So I spent most of the day lying on the couch with the curtains drawn, and I silently hoped to fall asleep and just never wake up.

When someone is going through depression, they are the last ones to admit it – at least out loud. I knew I was depressed, but I was afraid to tell anyone. Of course, it’s not like depression is easily hidden. My mom, seeing that I wasn’t capable of helping myself, pulled me aside and insisted I needed serious help. I finally made an appointment with my doctor, a wonderful woman who recognized the devastation growing like cancer inside me. And as I sat and cried on her exam table, she gently handed me a prescription for medication.

However, even after suffering and surviving depression, I feel totally incapable watching Lisa suffer through her own battle with this debilitating disease. It’s hard to know what to do as my friend falls deeper and deeper into her grief, going from a normal sadness to something that is much bigger than she is. I miss my friend, and it’s been a struggle to sidestep my personal feelings of abandonment while my friend withdraws.

After several failed attempts to contact her, I finally made a decision to consciously step back from our friendship. I didn’t know how to be there for her, and was starting to feel like she didn’t want me there anyway. And this devastated me. But our lapse in friendship only lasted a short time. Her name showed up on my phone a few days later, and I listened to her sob for a full 40 minutes – giving her no advice except to tell her “I know”, and “I’m so sorry you’re going through this”.

And then I just listened.

When I lost my baby 10 years ago, I sat in the hospital room feeling more alone than ever. My husband was gone with the kids. The nurse had left the room. But another friend of mine showed up.

“I don’t know what to say,” she told me. “I have no advice at all. But I’m just going to sit here. And I’ll be here if you need me, even if you just need to cry.” And she sat there for over an hour while I slipped in and out of sleep and tried to escape my grief. And her presence meant more to me than almost anything anyone has ever done for me.

Being a friend doesn’t require knowing all the answers, or trying to fix what’s broken. That can be the hardest thing to remember, or even to accept. But sometimes, being a friend requires nothing more than just being there – and listening.