When I wanted to write a story about the connections that can be made at the Y, I thought of Lindsay and Sabrina. The bond they share is an empowering example of friendship and the kind of support every mom, woman – human – could use.

Here is their story:

When and where did you meet?

Sabrina: We met at a class called Play & Learn for toddlers in 2014 at the Eastside YMCA.

What was going on in your life at the time?

Sabrina: At that time, I was just working and trying to navigate being a parent without much family support in an area I wasn’t from. Connor and I moved to Erie in 2011 after he retired from the Army, with only his parents living in the area. My only friends at that time were some girls from work who were younger and not parents. I was desperate for a close friend that understood the parenting struggle and also to get back in shape after becoming a mother. 

Lindsay: I was a stay-at-home, overwhelmed, and extremely lonely mother of twins. I was outnumbered with little-to-no adult interaction in the middle of an Erie winter. My husband and I had lived in the area for quite a while, attending college at Penn State Behrend, where we met. I’m originally from Altoona and he’s from Corry. Most of our friends from college had moved away to pursue careers outside the area, and my husband worked in Corry, which left me alone with two little ones most of the day. To say I was desperate to find a way to connect with others is an understatement. That’s when I stumbled upon a little program through the Y that saved my sanity and changed my life forever. 

How did you strike up your first conversation?

Lindsay: I remember Sabrina attending a Play and Learn session and it was the first time I had noticed her there; her husband was usually the one to attend with their son. She was this gorgeous blond with a half-shaved head, tattoos, and a bubbly personality – the complete opposite of me.

Due to my introverted nature and being overwhelmed with two toddlers, I never actually spoke to her at Play and Learn. It was after class when my kids were still full of energy that I took them outside to play on the soccer field. Sabrina must have had the same idea because before I knew it a third child was running around the field. The three of them raced each other up and down the field, giggling and having the time of their lives. That’s when Sabrina approached me and made a comment about how well our kids were playing together. We continued to talk and exchanged numbers to meet up for a playdate.

I didn’t realize it then, but that was the day I met my best friend and second mother to my children. 

What was the first plan you made together?

Sabrina: Our first plan together was to meet at Lindsay’s house for a playdate! There were even a few other Mom’s from Play & Learn that joined. We began meeting once a month for a Mom’s Night Out. But even in a group of women, Lindsay and I always gravitated toward each other. 

What was it about your first couple encounters that made it feel like this was someone you could be friends with?

Sabrina: I think parenting brings people together, and it was a relief to meet someone who wasn’t from Erie but was also trying to navigate parenting toddlers. We had plenty to talk about! We also both enjoyed exercise and at that point in our lives, exercise was the only thing we got to do for ourselves. Our self-care! It was our first night out to dinner at a sushi restaurant that we got the chance to get to know each other away from our kids. It was then that I knew this girl was a keeper! We shared stories of who we were before becoming parents.

Lindsay: We got together for Fourth of July in 2015. I remember our husbands gathered around the fire pit talking. When I noticed my husband interacting with Connor, I knew this friendship was going to last. My husband had very few friends left in the area at that time and seeing him enjoy himself with Sabrina’s husband was something I knew he needed. I remember having one of the best times I’ve had in a long time with her and her family, and it was at that moment I knew I wanted to invest in this relationship and hoped it would last for a lifetime. 

What has your friendship become? How have your families grown close? 

Sabrina: Our friendship has become so much more than friendship. We are definitely more like sisters! We meet as often as life will allow for Saturday morning coffee that lasts until lunch time! Our kids grew up together, also becoming more like siblings than friends. Our families show up for each other in the good times and bad.

Lindsay: I guess to put it simply our friendship has turned into family. I truly consider her to be the sister I never had. I consider the Cunninghams to be the second parents to both my children and fur babies. We have created traditions and make every effort to maintain them.

What does it mean to you to have this person in your life now?

Sabrina: This question brings tears to my eyes as it is really hard to put into words. She is my very best friend who gets me and I know would do anything for me. She’s my support and shoulder to cry on but will also call me out when I’m wrong. Her very presence brings me peace. I’m beyond grateful for her! 

Lindsay: My relationship with Sabrina and her family means EVERYTHING to me. I can count on her to support me through anything, to encourage me when I need it, and to challenge me when I get in my own way. She is everything I’m not which makes us so compatible. She pushes me outside my comfort zone. Her bubbly personality pulls me out of my turtle shell. Her warmth and unwavering love allows me to feel safe being my authentic self. She truly brings out the best in me and I am a better person, friend, wife, and mother because of her.

What would you say to young moms (or dads) who might be in need of connection and friendship?

Lindsay: Don’t be afraid to try new things – to get outside your comfort zone – because you never know how it might impact your life for the better. 

Sabrina: I would tell them to not be afraid to put themselves out there and talk to a stranger! If we hadn’t had that first awkward conversation or that first play date, I’m not sure our friendship would have evolved. Spending all your free time with your kids and spouse can be lonely even if you’re technically not alone. But having a friendship that allows you to share your lives with each other is a game changer! We weren’t meant to do life alone!

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