Seven/eightish years ago when I started out on this whole new mom, new baby thing, I had a lot of “friends”… or rather, I thought I did. But as I was writing my baby shower list, I realized how very few people wanted to be in my life now that I was no longer hosting beer pong tournaments in my garage and would likely be spending my days in my pajamas changing diapers. I had hardly spoken to 80% of my “friends” my entire pregnancy. I scratched off half my list, positive that none of these people would want to come to an alcohol free party.
Being a young mom I had accepted early on that I was in a phase of life that not a lot of my friends were in and that I would likely be hangin’ with my husband a lot. It was hard to relate to most people, even other moms, and I frequently felt isolated during a time that I needed people the most. As my sleep deprivation set in, my sanity correlated. It didn’t help that my little family was struggling to make ends meet and my husband and I literally shared everything- car, cell phone, etc. so I was often stuck at home with two babies who never said please or thank you, they just screamed at me.
I tried to make mom friends. I really did. But my own insecurities got the best of me. I forced myself to get out to a few of those ‘Mom & me’ type things, only to be bored to tears, and left feeling inadequate. I was constantly getting asked if I was the nanny. I felt like it was so obvious that if I were the nanny I’d have nicer clothes and less bags under my eyes. I left with the resolve that I was just too young to have anything in common with other Mom’s and eventually gave up the idea of Instagram worthy play dates and trips to the actual inside of Starbucks. Drive thru’s for the win. In my pajamas. Alone. Or rather, never alone.
I was however lucky enough to have kept a few friends that weren’t moms (yet), and my husband had a few people in his life that he lent me. I survived those first few years of motherhood because of these people in my life. My sister in law taught me almost every Mom hack I know, and my only two Mom friends at that time allowed me to have a few days of my life where I didn’t feel totally isolated. I undervalued these days and the need to feel joy in my own life. I had become somewhat of a martyr in my motherhood quest. I didn’t need anyone’s help, I was fine by myself… You probably could have found me in the “strong independent women that didn’t need no man” aisle. Only I did need a man and instead of cats, I was collecting dogs.
Over the years, through the divorce and the move to a completely new city, I once again found myself in an awkward social spot. If I thought it was hard then, this was even harder. I found myself realizing all over again how very few people wanted to be in my life if there wasn’t parties and alcohol involved.
Through the beginning years of navigating single motherhood, I truly had zero mom friends and not a soul that I could relate to, plus I had lost my best friend in the divorce. It was a devastating blow and I became socially awkward and felt like I constantly needed a beer in my hand to be able to talk to anyone for fear that I would go on too long about my kids or mention the dreaded “D” word that sent people running.
The social awkwardness is still alive and thriving but I’ve gotten over the need to be drunk to talk to another human. I’ve embraced my life, motherhood, and the place I’m in– thank you self help aisle.
What truly brought me to this place was a lot of heartache and a lot of growth. I’m starting to get older so we’ll attribute it moreso to age and hopefully maturity than dumb choice. Ok fine, also a lot of dumb choices that eventually brought me to a good place. I started to learn the value of myself, and the importance of having people in my life that also valued me. I learned the importance of searching the audience for those that clapped at my success. A lot of people will come to the show just to watch. It’s the ones who clap and cheer and whistle for you that you have to keep around. I had to cut out the dream killers, the ambivalent people in my life, the fluff -as I like to call them- (which are people who only care for my mere presence while they drank a beer but won’t show up to help fix a flat tired). As much as I want people in my life who care about me, I also want people who I truly care for, and support, people I had things in common with and could connect with. Fake friendships were something I wasn’t willing to settle for anymore. They drained my energy more than they filled me up. I learned that I wanted people in my life that would make me laugh at the trivial stuff on the hard days, accept me for who I am- crazy and all, and remind me that I’m not alone in this, even if my relationship status remains “SINGLE” for the rest of my life (which it most likely will, so don’t hold your breath). But mostly I learned that I not only wanted, but needed people that I could talk to about the most important things in my life- which are my kids. And that was something I truly missed most from my marriage. I still call the boys’ Dad when they do something funny or cute or absolutely horrendous because there will never be anyone who shares that joy or annoyance like I do besides him, and probably their Auntie, but it is a wonderful thing to meet people who aren’t related by blood but who also truly care about the people you created and can laugh at the crazy shit they do. And this is where Mom friends come in.
So it took me 3 kids and 6ish years but I’ve finally met other Moms that I could actually connect with. I finally got over the idea that I just wouldn’t connect with anyone and found that there are Moms out there that I can connect with- of all ages. And it has changed everything for the better. It is amazing to have friends who don’t judge you if you’ve been wearing the same milk stained shirt for 3 days, that understand that some days you just need a freakin’ Mimosa after you drop the kids off at school, that understand the struggle that is childcare, tantrums, and raising kids who do weird things with their body parts. I got lucky and got to share my pregnancy with two amazing ladies that I already knew and loved, and that made all the difference for me. It is so nice to commiserate about the pregnancy aches and pains, trying to get the babies out, engorged breasts, and the postpartum mom bod struggle with other women who are going through it all too. There is nothing quite like it, and no words can truly explain the joy that comes from Mom friends who will get all the kids together on a sunny day and drink Mimosas with you while the kids run amuck.
So with that, I urge you all to keep trying. Not every Mom out there is the right fit, but there’s at least one for each of us. You will never know if the Mom sitting next to you at all your kids practices could be someone you connect with if you don’t try. If you’re a Mom and you’re reading this and you don’t have any mom friends, I will be your Mom friend. You can totally sit with us.
I could never devalue the childless friends I have, or have had throughout my years of motherhood that have stood by me, have come over to my house of chaos, overlooked the mess, have gone in public with me and my kids, or shared in the joy my kids have brought to my life. Although I never experienced it, I have had glimpses of a life where you’re in your 20’s, kid free, with a full time job that supports your lifestyle to do whatever you please and can only imagine that the last thing you want to do is go spend your free time with a bunch of annoying kids… so to those people in my life that have been there for me, that have been apart of our lives ‘thank you’ is never enough.