If it were not for my dearest friends I would not be the person, the mother, the wife, the worker and the friend I am today.

No sentimental overstatement there. Each of them, whether she realizes it or not, has contributed to my life in a specific, significant and long-lasting way.

Virtually every woman I know would say the same thing about her friends. We just don’t always announce it to the world. It’s one of those private, personal understandings.

From Rita, I learned to love farmers markets. Lucy taught me how to see the lighter side of things. Mary shared the rich reward of thinking about others, of putting their needs first now and then. Teri modeled planning and organizational skills.

None of us are empty vessels, of course. Friends often shore up many of the qualities or interests we already have, and if we are lucky enough, they have a way of grounding us. They comfort us, boost us up, show us how silly we can be, bring us up short. They hang with us on the longest days of our lives, too.

They can get catty on our behalf. And they can knock some sense into our thick heads when we need that, too.

When I got married, the love, care, and help from my friends helped make a happy day infinitely happier.  Same when my children were born. When my dad died, the phone calls, emails, texts, notes and cards (yes, some people still send cards!) came flooding in. None of this was perfunctory. Those messages of support helped me and my family through an awful time.

Then there are the days with no highs or lows. What about those? That’s when a random cheerful message, a joke, a tip, a quip, an insight, a comment turns a light bulb on and make the day.

While every woman will have her own, here are some specific lessons I’ve learned from some friends through the years. (Their names are changed for privacy; one, I don’t want to embarrass them and two, they didn’t ask for this.)

Emelia taught me that as much as we mothers tend to want to make everything perfect for our kids — we not only can’t, we shouldn’t.

Tina taught me the value of spending time with someone when you say you will — of honoring your commitments, standing behind your word.

Nancy taught me the value of watching what you say. Speak too harshly or critically when you don’t need to and you could lose someone important in your life.

Thelma taught me the value of recognizing each person’s contributions to a project, no matter how minor.

Frances taught me the importance of eating right, especially as we get older. Favorite new breakfast because of her: Plain Chobani Greek yogurt with blueberries, walnuts and a dash of cinnamon.

Mandi taught me how to make great coffee.

Stacy taught me thoughtfulness. A simple text or phone call now and then to see how a friend is doing is like a flower growing through cement.

Val taught me that quietness doesn’t necessarily mean lack of thought or care. It can, in fact, mean great thought and care.

Carlotta taught me the need to be at peace with ourselves in a highly frenetic world. Slow down. Breathe. Wait a beat.

Wendy taught me that asking “How are you?” can fix a lot of problems.

Glenda taught me to pray, and to do so sincerely to connect with God.

Brenda taught me that we mothers have to take care of ourselves, too, while we’re taking care of our families. Yes, the two can and should be done simultaneously.

And Lisa taught me to forgive. Why? Because who among us is perfect?

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