My current season of motherhood feels like people playing tug-of-war . . . and I’m the rope! I am trying to mother a pre-teen, two elementary kids, a toddler, and a baby—two sets of children with opposing and conflicting needs. My older three kids play sports, which means our evenings are jam-packed with soccer practice, homework, basketball games, packing lunches, and school projects. Meanwhile, I find myself knee-deep in diapers, tantrums, naptimes, and Peppa Pig.
With so much energy being poured into my big kids, it has been difficult to find little people friends for my youngest two kids and mom friends who will journey with me. My closest friends all have kids the same ages as my older three kids, but now these moms are in a different season of life than me. Most of them have gone back to work, volunteer in their child’s school, or don’t want to join me at library story time (and can I blame them?). So, it’s time for me to make a new batch of mom friends.
But who can afford to spend time and energy on that? Actually, who cannot?
This mothering journey is tough, especially in these early years when giving your two-year-old the “wrong” fork can send her into a Code Red meltdown. We need mom friends to encourage and support us; someone we can turn to for advice. And when we spend eight hours a day talking to someone whose vocabulary contains less than twenty words, we need a friend who can offer some adult conversation, even if it is only through texting.
So here are four steps to cultivating a healthy, fulfilling friendship with another mom:
- Realize that it’s going to be awkward. Just like a first date is often weird and clunky, getting to know another mom for the first time can feel uneasy too. But stick with it. It takes time, persistence, and commitment for a friendship to form.
- Take the first step. Don’t wait for other women to reach out to you . . . reach out to them. They might assume that you already have friends. Or maybe you seem intimidating because you have older kids, because you have a part time job, or because you always look so put together. Women make a lot of assumptions about each other (most of which are wrong), so instead of waiting for them to come to you, make the first move. Invite them for a playdate or for a coffee date, and then build off that.
- Look for the person who needs community as much as you. It’s tempting to want to be included in the “it group” of moms. But instead of trying to fit in, why not stand out? Find that mom who is new to town, who sits alone at church, or who stands on the outside of the inner circle. Chances are she is just as lonely as you. Once you form a friendship with her, other women will gravitate toward you and before you know it, you’ll have your own “it group.”
- Accept the fact that it will take time. Just as you didn’t go on one date and get married the next week (probably), you can’t hang out one time and automatically reach BFF status with another mom. Building a deep friendship takes time. It takes Starbuck’s dates filled with meaningful conversations and trips to the zoo with your littles. Deep friendships are formed through celebrating the highs of life such as promotions and new babies, but even more so as we walk with one another through the lows of life such as losing a loved one. Be patient. Walk slowly. Stay committed to pursuing this new friendship. In time you’ll find that you have made a true friend—someone besides Peppa Pig.