The ways in which we as mothers are creating and upholding expectations of our friendships are too complicated. We have our “mom friends” and our “non-mom friends,” and there is a division between the two that shouldn’t exist.
I’ve seen dozens of blogs and articles as of late that reinforce this invisible fence between the two. You’re either hip with the mom groups making you pro “mom friends,” or you intentionally unwind at child-free homes. Here’s a sample of the polarizing headlines:
Hell, I even recently blogged my own take after relishing in how fortunate I feel to be raising my 3-month-old baby in such a supportive community. I posted this before realizing that doting on mom friends was somehow joining a team. I didn’t know we were picking sides, and I refuse, because that’s just ridiculous.
Mom friends are the best, and so are non-mom friends. Whether or not people are parents should not be the focal point of who we befriend.
For me, making a concerted effort to meet other moms is representative of this time in my life as a new mom. It does not mean that I no longer relate to my child-free friends or that I am no longer interested in making child-free friends. In fact, I am the first of my friends to have a baby, and I’m proud of the fact that my child-free friendships are stronger than ever.
Finding mom friends is simply about relating to other humans who are also in the throes of raising children. It does not mean that I automatically click with every mom I meet, nor does it mean that when I am with said friends that all we talk about is our children and their poopy diapers.
In fact, that’s precisely what I love about my mom friends – they know just how much I want to escape dirty diapers, and so we talk about anything other than poop as we refuel our tired souls over margaritas. It is a bonus that when I have a question about my baby’s poo (or insert the million other things to worry about as a mother) I can turn to them for that, too, of course.
And when I talk to my childless friends, we catch up as we always have – which includes updates on the mini-me, too.
I do not isolate my role as a mother when it comes to my relationships, and maybe this is why my friendships have proven to be diverse and genuine. Being a mother is deeply embedded in who I am as a person, and it is a part of me that I openly share with everyone. This is no different than the other identities I wear on my sleeve – writer, dog-lover, yogi, libertarian, dessert-fanatic, military wife, coffee drinker – all things that also guide me in my journey of meeting like-minded souls.
To all you fellow bloggers typing with a tinge of bitterness about how horrible of an experience you’ve had finding mom friends, I urge you to look at potential parent pals with much, much lower expectations. I ask of you to reminisce on all your current friendships – did they always happen instantly and seamlessly? Probably not, unless all of your current friends go back to the easy breezy days of your childhood.
Making friends is supposed to be awkward as two rigid strangers attempt to break the ice. Making friends is supposed to be cliquey to guide us closer to circles that make us feel at home. Making friends is supposed to be disappointing because it requires vulnerability. That’s why finding good friends is so satisfying – because we invest a lot before we reap the rewards.
Mom groups not proving to be your thing? Fine, but it’s a bit rude to turn your nose up to all other moms indefinitely. Being a mom in an of itself does not determine compatibility.
Can’t seem to maintain friendships with non-moms? Fine, but it’s a bit extreme to write off childless friends. Having a baby in and of itself should not re-define your circle.
Finding friends in general is a hell of a lot like dating. It sucks. You will get set up, stood up, and let down, but for heaven’s sake, it’s not the “end of all friends” when these experiences happen to us as moms. We’re still human just like we were before we had babies. The only difference now, perhaps, is we overanalyze and worry way more than we need to, and it’s pouring into our socialization skills.
Can we shift the conversation from exclusivity to inclusivity?
*Sigh. Now who wants to get a margarita with me and my little hunk?