Sometimes I forget that inside this skin lives a woman who was not always a mom. And she needs to breathe too.

This weekend three old friends visited and they helped me catch my breath. I didn’t even realize how long I’d been holding it until I exhaled with them – at dinner, over memories, walking the city, watching a movie.  They have loved me a long time. Before I got married, before I had kids, before I became a grown up. They have loved me and so when we are together there is so little explaining to do about who I am or where I’ve come from. They already know.  There is space to simply be.

The thing about parenting is how frenetic it is. I call it the “stop-go” syndrome. You can never complete one task without being interrupted by another. And then distracted by a third. Just in time to remember you never completed the first one.  There is so rarely space to move with deliberate purpose between activities. There’s so much hurly-burly busy-ness that a day is eaten alive by five minute increments. There are no long stretches of reflection or accomplishment.

There is very rarely the opportunity for real conversation.

Today I talked and listened and then talked again for hours at a time. I ate paella. I walked city blocks in the blustering, loving, humid winds without worrying about someone else’s needs. I walked unhindered by anything other than my high heels.

I feel full. Filled up. Refueled.

I held the hands of friends who make up the many pieces of who I am. When they look at me I see parts of myself I had forgotten. I loved rediscovering them today.

We walk a tightrope as parents, balancing high above our own needs in order to meet the needs of our kids. There is so much at stake in raising children, so much to invest, so much to lose. If we take our focus off them for even a moment it feels like we will fall a long way down.

We need a safety net.

My husband keeps reminding me. I keep forgetting. And we get stretched tighter and tighter.

Today I stepped off the high wire act for three friends and they slowly unwound me from the inside out. I breathed deep gulps of fresh air.  And I was more than someone’s mom. I was myself.

**Linking this oldie, but goodie to Jo’s Flashback Friday – because it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think “friendship”**