*I feel like I need to qualify all my posts with B.C. or A.C. This particular post was written last Thursday morning, Before Connecticut. Thanks, T.G., for being such a great friend.

This morning a friend of mine brought me a gingerbread latte from Starbucks. She and her one year old daughter attend my weekly music class, and as they breezed into the classroom, she handed me the warm cup, whispering, “Merry Christmas.”

I felt tears in my eyes as I gratefully accepted the coffee. My friend didn’t know that my own one year old daughter had whined all morning, screeching impatiently from her highchair while I scrambled around the kitchen.

She didn’t know that my six year old daughter had a toddler-esque meltdown when I informed her that I would not be packing a cookie in her lunch.

She didn’t know that we were unable to locate the brand new winter coat we had just bought for our first grader, making her tardy for school.

She didn’t know that my one year old had nearly fallen down the stairs after her sister carelessly left the gate open, causing me to break my profanity-free streak for the morning.

She didn’t know that I somehow broke off a piece of the countertop as my jeans snagged the edge during my hasty breakfast preparation.

She didn’t know that I arrived at work exhausted and discouraged.

I’m sure I’m not the only one whose day is brightened by this festive cup…

But she brought me a latte anyway, knowing that as the working mother of two children, the likelihood of me appreciating an extra cup of coffee in the morning was favorable.

She also knew that yesterday when she called me “because she wanted to cry” I listened to her. I didn’t judge her for venting, complaining, and confessing that she felt like she had no idea what she was doing. I skirted the verge of tears with her, laughed with her, swore with her, and empathized wholeheartedly with the plight of the messy home, unproductive days, difficult bedtimes, and sleepless nights.

I didn’t do this as a “favor” to her and I am certainly not patting myself on the back for this basic courtesy; though hearing of another mother’s struggles never brings me joy, the experience of sharing our hardships is always affirming for me.

During this season of the year, one in which it is all too easy to forget about our own needs, let’s make an extra effort to take care of one another- our community of mamas. And guess what- that includes ourselves!

Though we are so wrapped up in the holiday experience for our children, picking out the perfect gifts, wrapping them, baking cookies together, attending the school Christmas program, let’s take a few minutes of the day to nurture each other and ourselves.

That may mean picking up an extra gingerbread latte for an exhausted friend, or it may mean picking up the phone and calling a friend we haven’t talked to for awhile. Or better yet, stop by with a bottle of wine to share after a long day of parenting. Let’s be there for each other- to validate feelings of frustration, listen with an open heart and without judgment, and to remind each other how very important we are. As mothers, as friends, and as individuals whose needs matter.

To quote one of my favorite holiday songs, “And here’s a hand, my trusty friend, and gives a hand o’ thine. We’ll take a cup of kindness then, for Auld Lang Syne.”

During this hectic holiday season, take good care of yourself, and the moms you know who are spread too thin. We are a stronger community when we look out for each other.

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