Remarkable Friendship: the Moms of the Mamafia
This Saturday, one of my dear friends was recognized as a Remarkable Mom. But the story of how she got there is a story of tragedy and heartbreak and friendship. Real, messy, tears-in-your-coffee friendship. It’s the kind of unbreakable bond you don’t mess around with. It’s our Mamafia.
In a recent Huffington Post story, The Momfia of Motherhood, the author describes a different kind of mom-mafia, one of mean girls and petty gossip. While I’m sure these are out there, I’d like to challenge that picture of the modern mom group.
Motherhood and Friendship
We all met when our kids were teeny. Some of us had been friends before; some of us met in a mommy-and-me class at our local park. None of us wanted to pay to join a playgroup that artificially put people together based on the age of the kids and where you live. But we were all seeking friendship and support and other moms who understood this crazy adventure we had all just embarked upon when we gave birth to our little bundles. Bundles of spit, bundles of poop, bundles of huge baby bags, and amid the exhaustion and constant self-doubt, little bundles of joy. We needed each other.
We slowly got to know each other, and we each found a little comfort in knowing that once a week, we could see other grown ups, eat real food and know we weren’t alone in facing the challenges and wins of motherhood. We’re all quite different in many ways, but we found common ground in our kids and made a connection. It was probably a pretty average playgroup. Then things got real. Fast.
A Mom in Need
While watching the kids play at the park, our friend, Amy, said her husband hadn’t been feeling well and she finally got him to go to the doctor. That doctor’s appointment led to another, and – BAM! – they were hit in the gut with a cancer diagnosis.
Her young, 30-something life changed in an instant. Amy now had a 2-year-old daughter and a sick husband to care for. The rest of us, with little ones and families of our own, did the only thing we knew how to do. We rallied. We organized meals for her, watched her daughter when needed, and tried to be the “normal” in her life.
When treatments and therapies got expensive, some of the more enterprising mamas in our group planned fundraisers at the local movie theater, and we had a massive garage sale to help pay for the mounting medical bills. When her daughter turned 3, we threw her a birthday party – because those are the things you can’t do when you’re in the middle of cancer.
And when Jim finally passed, we were there. We surrounded her with as much love and support as we could, and, while physically surrounding her in a circle of friendship, a family member remarked that we were like her own personal mafia – there to protect her and fend off anything and anyone who dared to get in her space or challenge her fragile state of mind at that vulnerable moment. The Mamafia was born. Not the savage, stab-you-in-the-back version of mom-mafia, but the force-to-be-reckoned-with kind.
The Most Remarkable Friendship
Four years have passed since then, and we’ve stood together as our mama friends have moved, had babies, lost parents, struggled with illness and gone through divorce. Our kids attend different schools now, but we’ve only grown closer. We challenge each other and support one another. We protect the tribe. We take care of the family we’ve created. We’re there for each other.
Four years since Amy lost Jim, and now we have a reason to celebrate. As she and her daughter re-built their world after her husband died, they turned to a wonderful grief support group in town. Amy, a talented photographer, realized that as she was being helped through her grief and loss, she could help other families like hers. Now, she volunteers to take photographs of families who have a parent with cancer or another serious medical condition. She snaps photos of the good times so they’ll always have happy memories to look back on. She presents each family with a custom album filled with playful, loving smiles, capturing life and love, focusing on moments to cherish in the midst of their heartache and sorrow.
This beautiful organization formally recognized Amy as a Remarkable Mom this weekend, but we already knew that. As her mamafia, with mama ties that bind us, we couldn’t be more proud to help honor her at this celebration. With yellow flowers in our hair and red lip tattoos as our mamafia uniform, we were there by her side. And through whatever life throws at any of us, good or bad, I know these mamas will stick together. That’s how friendship is done.