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One of my favorite memories of my mother is the sound of her laugh. It was a “head-thrown-back, open-throated roar [that] always made people turn around and look at her when she laughed in public.” She laughed a lot – with friends, relatives, and later with her daughters when we became more like friends to each other in our adult years. It’s one of those things women do. Laugh so hard we can’t catch our breath. Laugh until we cry, or wet our pants, or both – which leads to more of all three until nobody can remember what got us started in the first place.

I miss laughing like that with my mother. I miss it with my sisters and best friends from high school and college. It’s something I could use more of in my life, and I wonder if that might be true for you, too. There are things only women can share. Beautiful things {like wetting our pants} that can only be enjoyed once we get over the terror of whatever it is that keeps us from openhearted connection. More times than not, that terror has something to do with secrets we thought we had to guard with our life, when what really deserves to be guarded is connection.

For four life-long friends in one of my all-time favorite books,* connection and “open-throated laughter” were lifelines. While they fiercely guarded their shared stories of heartbreak, estrangements, and breakdowns behind alcohol and hilarity, history threatened to repeat itself … and they were sobered by the desire of every mother I know to love their children well and do what’s best for them. This is the gut-wrenching backstory revealed chapter by chapter and intertwined with the courageous disclosure that, slowly but surely, breaks the cycle.

Secrets always create a serious threat to family relationships, often with devastating results. But what happens in this story {which I feel sure is rooted in truth} affirms for me that understanding is available for less-than-perfect mothers who are willing to break the silence with truth that restores trust, and eventually reconciles relationships.

It’s what every mother prays for – a day when our children realize the bigger story that frames the picture of how they see us, who we really are, who we tried to be for them, and all we would do, if we could, to make up for falling so heartbreakingly short. And because we know we can’t change what we wish we could, we ask for their mercy and forgiveness, and for the mercy and forgiveness of the God we pray to. Then we ask Him to help us offer the same to ourselves.

And for the sake of love, we keep our hearts open and connected for as long as it takes, and we thank God for the beauty of sharing our stories, our tears, and our laughter with the wonderful women in our lives.


Love Julie

*The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells