8 Reason Making Mom Friends Can Be Stinking Hard
“Make mom friends!” They say. “It’s SO important,” they tell us. “And for the love of Pete make friends IN PERSON, not just online. Social media is great but it’s no substitute.”
And by “they,” I mean me. I am a FIRM believer in the value of connections between moms to enrich, support, sustain, and make the world better for moms, kids, and pretty much the whole of humanity. I’ll be the first to tell you how important it is to make mom friends, to pursue and nurture those connections.
But just like everything else with parenting (and basically all of adulting in general), just because it’s GOOD and IMPORTANT doesn’t make it easy. Breastfeeding...sleep training…discipline and behavior stuff...bedtimes...getting pregnant in the first place...childbirth...adoption...all things that are IMPORTANT and GOOD and LIFE-GIVING but can also be a struggle- and IT IS SO INCREDIBLY ISOLATING when you think you’re the only one struggling. That is one of the reasons mom friendships are so crucial in the first place: the connection to other women with experiences and struggles similar to our own breaks down that isolation and gives us the PEACE and the POWER that comes from knowing that we are not alone as we do these hard things.
As such, we are doing ourselves a HUGE disservice if we leave our struggles out of our conversations about mom friendships. Yes they are wonderful and life-giving and something we should go after and not give up on. But if we never stop and talk about the hard stuff as well, then we will end up feeling like we are the only ones from whom it’s ever SO STINKING HARD. And that kind of COMPLETELY defeats the purpose, right?
So, I asked the sister-moms (YOUR sister-moms) over in the Project Mother Facebook Community (if you’re not over there, please join us!) to respond to the following prompt:
“Making Mommy Friends is SO STINKING HARD because…”
What follows is a summary of their responses, intermingled with my own because I had a LOT to say about the very real struggle of making friends. So here you go, 8 reasons with which you may or may not be able to identify about why making mommy friends can be SO STINKING HARD:
Because it’s hard to make friends as an adult in the first place- When you’re an adult, nobody is putting us in school classes or activities where we’re presented with a ready-made cohort of people around our age and/or stage of life in the same area, and then given built-in activities and opportunities to socialize with those folks and find some kindred spirits. For the most part, we grown-ups have to make our own luck when it comes to meeting new people and that is HARD WORK. And mom life adds even more levels of challenge (some of which I’m about to touch on). I mean, it’s easy for some people, to be sure. But I promise you, it’s not easy for most.
Because insecurity doesn’t magically go away when you become a mom- If we’ve experienced social rejection issues in the past or if we’ve suffered from social anxiety on any level, it’s not like we are just #overit because we’re the mom now. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather did not show up at my kid’s birth and wave their wands to magically rid me of all of my issues. Matter of fact, it became even harder in many ways because now fitting in wasn’t just about me, it could affect my kids, too! What if the other moms arranged play dates and didn’t call me? What if my kids missed out on social opportunities because I couldn’t get “in” with the other moms like back in middle or high school? The struggle is and was very real and to be perfectly honest, it becomes about DOING IT SCARED rather than not being scared at all.
Because KIDS- This one pretty much deserves its own separate blog post because there are SO! MANY! things about life with young humans that make it so incredibly difficult to make and maintain social connections with other adults. It can take an hour to finish a ten minute conversation when you’re constantly interrupting your sentences with, “DON’T TOUCH THAT,” “WE SHARE OUR TOYS,” and “DID YOU FLUSH?” And more of us than we probably realize have kids with social struggles or special needs. There are kids who are shy or just “slow to warm up,” kids who bolt and run away or get into everything (like my son as a toddler), kids with sensory processing issues, kids on the autism spectrum, and with all kinds of other special needs that can make new situations and social situations challenging. Sometimes, we are staying away from events and activities that are supposed to be so “beneficial” and “life-giving” for us and for our kids because taking our kids into those situations is so gosh-darned hard on ALL OF US!
Because SCHEDULES- First of all, you’ve got naps. I mean, we *could* skip nap, but nobody (least of all us) would actually want to be around our children when they haven’t napped, so what’s the point? Then once you finally drop those, they’re starting school. And activities. And then factor in if we actually want to do anything for ourselves in there, God forbid we want a WORKOUT SCHEDULE or even DOWN TIME! And then when you consider that we are trying to match up our schedule with the schedule of another family in order to get together? Yeah, hard.
Because our game gets rusty- Picture me, all showered and wearing make-up and clothing NOT covered with spit-up or crayon, sitting across the table from another adult, engaged in some riveting adult conversation, and then saying, “Will you excuse me for a moment, please? I need to go potty.” GO POTTY?!?!? DID THAT REALLY JUST COME OUT OF MY MOUTH?!?!? I swear I have lost the ability to say “use the restroom” since my kids hit toddlerhood. I’ve also lost the ability to hold my bladder for any respectable amount of time, particularly if there will be either sneezing or laughing involved. And that’s just one example of how becoming a mom and spending my days at home all day with small children has KILLED my game when it comes to hanging out with actual grown-ups. What do we talk about? What do I wear? Do my non-sweats clothes even FIT? Do I own mascara that’s not dried out? The rustiness of the game is serious....
Because WORK- OK, so let’s say we DON’T spend our entire days with our tiny people, let’s say that we have an outside-the-home job where we are actually coming into contact with other people and having these interactions with other adults that are supposed to keep our social skills so sharp. First of all, they don’t always keep our social skills sharp. Second of all, when we go home from those jobs WE ACTUALLY WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH THESE TINY PEOPLE FROM WHOM WE HAVE BEEN SEPARATED. Evenings are dinner and bedtime and weekends are family and cleaning time. We don’t always even WANT to take time out to see another mom when that’s our only chance to get stuff done and spend time with our families, who we don’t see all day while we work. At-Home moms or Work-Away moms- we are darned if we don’t and darned if we do, right?
Because...so...tired…- This one is pretty self-explanatory. Raising young humans is exhausting. And demanding. And sometimes we are too tired to do anything that involves any extra effort, such as putting on actually clothes and leaving the house to go have an actual conversation. And honestly...sometimes you just want A BREAK FROM PEOPLE! I always thought I was an extrovert until I had kids in my face and my ear and my space all day and now, the fact is that if I have a free moment a lot of the time I would rather spend it BY MYSELF then out with another human. That’s as real as it gets right there.
Because the Mommy Wars are real- even when they’re not- It’s shocking how many of us are afraid to enter into relationships, or even CONVERSATIONS, with other moms because of the fear of being judged. Whether it’s for “not having it all together,” for differences in parenting, or for any of the myriad of superficial schlock that people judge one another for all the time (because *some people* have apparently not progressed past middle school), the fear of being judged is a serious barrier to relationship for so many people- especially us moms. We have been so conditioned by the existence of “the mommy wars” that we feel like we are going to be judged by other moms even in the safest of environments. A minor off-the-cuff comment or slight difference of opinion can feel larger than life in this place in time when our hearts are on our sleeves, our insecurities are all dredged up by the realness of motherhood, and the world around us is telling us MOMS ARE JUDGING ONE ANOTHER!!! The fact is that moms who judge other moms are really probably just super-insecure themselves and it’s more about them than it is us. But when you’re gathering up your courage to do the vulnerable work of forging friendships, all the rational stuff can just fly out the window and we can be shaking in our boots like it’s the first day of middle school all over again.
Those eight reasons aren’t even entirely comprehensive, nor did I dig into telling as much about each of those as I could. There are so many things on so many levels that make it H-A-R-D to go forth and make mom friends as we are told we should (and many of us feel we want to).
So why keep at it? We have enough hard stuff in our lives. Why make it harder by trying to make friends?
BECAUSE IT’S WORTH IT, YOU GUYS! Because knowing you’re not alone in these hard things of motherhood and friendship is healing and hope-giving. Because DOING HARD THINGS is empowering. If we can go out and ACTUALLY have an interaction that makes us smile or even make a friend in spite of ALL THAT CRAP- girl, we can do anything. WE ARE MOMS AND BY DEFINITION WE DO HARD THINGS!!!
So go forth and be brave, Sister-Moms. And for crying out loud, join the Project Mother Facebook Group. Things are really getting going over there- we are having the hard conversations and the silly ones and sharing our hearts, we are building something that we want- nay, NEED- you to be a part of. Because together is better and it IS worth it- I promise