Mom friends, how many of us have them? Surprisingly, not a lot! I find it bizarre that we encourage our children to make friends, and we invest time and effort into nurturing their social development, but we don’t do the same for ourselves. We can blame the disconnect on social media, but as someone in their mid thirties *cringe* who grew up without the internet, I recognize that my lack of friendship making skills date back to before dial up. Fast forward to today, with kids and a mortgage.. I’m just now learning the basics and trying to understand why Mom friends are crucial to this time in my life.
Friends B.C. (before children)
As a kid, I didn’t naturally gravitate toward my peers. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I actively avoided making friends. Maybe it was because I moved schools, was more interested in playing with my cousins and siblings, or I had my nose in book after book.. who knows? My earliest memory of having a group of friends was the first day of fourth grade at a new school. My mom walked me up to some girls and simply told them, “This is my daughter Jasmin, she’s new here, can you be her friend?” As mortified as I was, those girls were my friends through elementary and most of middle school.. thanks Mom!
High school, however, was a different story. I grew up in a rough neighborhood in the Bay Area where peer interaction was reduced to fight or be fought, and I developed a guarded disposition. I had some close girlfriends, most of whom I still keep in touch with today, but those relationships were effortless. We were bonded by situations of our youth and remain in touch now because of time passed. Back then friendships were simple and when we reunite once or twice a year, most topics of conversation are of memories together.
Friends A.D. (after diapers)
Friendships as an adult are super complex because not only do I consider who you are as a person, but also how you are as a mom. Most of my time is spent with my kids, which means most of our hang outs will need to be kid friendly. Do you enjoy taking your kids out to play, can you gather them up in a similar time frame that I can pull mine together, and if we carpool will you not think twice about the cracker crumbs you’re sitting on? If we magically scrounge up thirty minutes without a child at our ankles are you down to stroll the aisles of Target, vow to not judge me for my purchases, and be okay if it’s all done in silence.. because you are enjoying the peace and mindlessness just as much as I am? If so then this just MIGHT work out.
I’m also looking to build a diverse group of Mom friends. When I was younger I sought out similar minded people to befriend, but now that I’m older I see the value in different points of views, those that don’t share a similar upbringing, and I enjoy being exposed to other cultures. There’s a lot I can learn from a mom whose kids are older than mine, who has dealt with the challenges I’m facing today, and encourage me when necessary. I’d also benefit from being friends with a mom of one of my kids friends; we can remind each other about Spirit Week, volunteer for school events together, and text for homework help. I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to befriend a new Mom either, one who is disheveled, sleep deprived, and thinks she’s doing it all wrong. Wait.. that’s all of us.. well, a new Mom needs to know that!
It’s Hard, but Necessary
While the opportunities to make Mom friends are scarce, they’re not nonexistent, your efforts just have to be intentional and made a priority. Cease the moment when you drop off your kids to school, go to the grocery store or gym, and even at your job. Something as simple as a genuine smile, complementing another woman’s purse, or asking how they cook that quinoa in their cart.. can lead to a play date. My personal technique? I seek out Moms of kids that my toddler plays with at public playgrounds; the ice is easily broken, my child is preoccupied, and I know our kids get along!
It is okay to embrace a group of people outside of your family, in fact, kids benefit from seeing their Mom as an individual; someone with dreams, likes, dislikes, and friends of her own. The reality of raising kids is that they eventually get older, and we shouldn’t wait until that happens to reconnect with the adult world. Mom friends can be encouraging, an invaluable resource, and a great support system each time our work/life/family balance shifts. You encourage your kids to make friends, so why not do the same for yourself, it’s just as important.