What I Look for in Mom Friends

For as long as I can remember, I have chosen quality over quantity when it comes to friends. I categorized people as “acquaintance” with much greater frequency than “friend.” I could be an acquaintance with most anyone, but a friend was a rare treasure.

As a mom — especially as a stay-at-home mom — of three young children, I have learned the value of mom friends. Not only are they your kid activities advisors, your mystery rash gurus, your go-to for recommendations from gynos to plumbers, and your how-do-I-survive-this-stage parenting counselors, but they’re your sanity savers.

On the days when you think your kids are plotting a coup, on the mornings you are tempted to shove your husband’s yet-again haphazardly flung jacket down the garbage disposal, on the nights when you’re drowning in a tsunami of mom guilt, on the afternoons when you found yet another dehydrated kid poop in the dryer and you just have to laugh-vent to someone who will double over in giggles instead of vomit in her own mouth, you turn to your mom friends. Because, as much as you love your kid-free friends, there are some things only fellow moms really understand.

So, what do I look for in mom friends? These are my basic top 5 must-have qualities:

1) Non-asshole. I mean, sometimes we’re all assholes, that’s just reality. I’m talking general life approach here though. I look for someone who doesn’t litter, doesn’t intentionally park or drive like a self-centered jackass, doesn’t treat waitstaff or nail technicians like peasants, isn’t homophobic/xenophobic/racist… you know, someone who acts like a decent human. Someone I would be happy to have around my kids.

2) Trustworthy. If someone gossips to me about someone we both know, I could only expect that person to gossip about me to someone else. I understand venting — that’s reasonable, and as much as I’d like to think everyone is completely happy with me at all times, I know that’s absolutely not the case — but intentionally bashing, demeaning, or spreading rumors is inexcusable. We’re not just adults but MOMS for goodness sakes. I don’t need or want the negativity and duplicity of gossip in my life. Some people enjoy it; I don’t. I need to trust my friends.

3) Genuine. Just as I trust my friends to act like decent humans who won’t gossip about or to me, I need to trust that they are who they say they are. No facades, no weak egos hiding behind bravado, no lying by intention or omission, no befriending me as a means to an end, no competitive drama, no judging. Cop to your bad days, your flaws, your struggles. Life is beautiful but it isn’t perfect and sunny all the time, so own that.¬†Just be you… the real you.

4) Amiable. The ability to laugh at life and yourself is huge! Sure, sometimes things go wrong and we cry, but choosing to laugh more often than mourn is awesome. Because, why not laugh? Laughing is more fun than crying anyway, right? The heartier the laugh, the more I like you. ‘Cause what’s the point of a good belly laugh if you’re stifling it into a demure giggle? Let it out and laugh proud. I’ll snort and cackle right along with you.

5) Inspirational. I admire something about all of my friends. Whether it’s pursuing a dream, parenting a rugged crew with overflowing love, having a wicked sense of humor, overcoming life struggles without becoming bitter, being a beacon of zen tranquility, honing a talent, or being the most honest, true, and best version of herself possible, each of my mom friends has a facet that I honor. Surrounding myself with people who inspire me to do and be better, I am enriching my own life and those of my children.

I carefully select my true mom friends. My life is better and more fun because of them. We all deserve to choose friends who better us, who sync with our worldview, our values, and our lifestyle. I wish you the fortune and self-confidence to find a mom friend perfectly suited to you.

What do you look for in mom friends?

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Mom “Friends”

Too many moms feel pushed to feign perfection due to judgment. Not just judgment from faceless screen names and social media associations, not just from the child-free 20-something at Starbucks, family that simply doesn’t “get it”, or the snippy blue-hair at Target, but from fellow mom friends as well.

I understand the drive to tidy up your home a bit before company comes, for respectability’s sake. I get the desire to swipe on some mascara¬†and brows to feel presentable. I honor the pull to change out of the three-day-old yoga pants splotched with mystery stains and into some jeans (or clean yoga pants.) I get it!

However, to feel the need to conceal the potty-training pandemonium, the tantrum disasters, the back-talk dilemmas, the laundry mayhem, the parenting conundrums, the nitty-gritty real life details because your friends will judge you? To feel the push to hire a house cleaner to visit prior to hosting a friend for a playdate because you fear gossip over your housekeeping? To feel compelled to wear specific brands and certain fashions to obtain praise and approval, and avoid catty side-eyes, from your friends? To feel pressured to present your life, child(ren), and home as flawless for risk of judgment from your friends? Those, dear one, are not your friends.

If you call judgmental fellow moms your “village,” honey, you need to move to a new “village.” If your mom friends are catty and thrive on tearing one another down instead of building and supporting each other, sweetheart, those are not mom friends… they’re immature, venomous toxins.

Many of us moms fear judgment from our peers so greatly we conceal ourselves from those we gift the title “friend.” I’m sorry but, why? Why do we allow ourselves to be belittled, to feel self-conscious, to feel lesser because of our friends? Why would we call these women “friends?”

If your child came to you telling you that his/her friends judged him/her in these ways, would you approve of these so-called “friends?” Would you encourage your child to continue socializing and bending him/herself to meet the approval of these “friends?” I hope not! So why do we moms provide such an example of friendship for our own children?

Moms, you’re worth more than that. You deserve more than that.

If your friends make you feel small and insecure, find new friends who lift you up and support you. Be the kind of friend you want to have and you’ll attract the type of friend you want and deserve.

Friends support each other, laugh with each other, live honestly with each other. Friends do not judge and gossip about one another. Friends do not make friends feel lesser or insecure. True friends make you feel safe, happy, and loved in their presence.

Stop feigning perfection. Stop driving yourself mad trying to please catty, ridiculous standards. Be genuine. Be happy. Be you.

Lost and Found

It’s easy to lose yourself in the weight, the grind, the excitement, the worry, the messiness, the monotony, the beauty of motherhood. Rarely does one become a parent and remain the same person as before. This is good. Growth is good. Change can be good. This can also be very challenging.

When your mind, body, priorities, worldview, and life change so drastically, it can be hard to maintain the friendships you had prior to the upheaval. Often, we moms go through a lonely adjustment phase during early motherhood. We don’t quite understand who we are, what we’re doing, or where our old self went, but we realize everything has changed. Sometimes old friendships can grow with this shift, but often not. Many new moms go through a period of shedding as they try to determine who they are. It’s mournful. It’s lonely. It’s confusing. It’s temporary.

Then, one day, you realize who you are, you’re more comfortable in your stretch-marked skin, more self-aware and self-assured. This confidence allows you to make new friendships and even rekindle old ones. Your mom friend circle grows but, more importantly, it strengthens. These friends are your pack, your village, your treasures.

Growing up, I never quite felt I fully belonged. I was told I was wiser than my years, that I had an old soul… perhaps I was simply awkward. Whatever the case, I often held one or two individuals close and enjoyed a smattering of widely varied acquaintanceships with people who often would not be friends with one another, despite their ties to me. Looking back, I note the commonality among them: genuine individuality. These people were unflinchingly themselves — unabashedly outspoken, shy but funny, quirky, hippy-chic, goth-punk, soccer player, preppy, music enthusiast, etc. — every one was different but each held my admiration because they were uniquely themselves.

This ability to fearlessly be myself didn’t come until I had my second child. I’d finally come out of the first-time-mom shedding fog and was realizing who I was. I was content with myself. I began making friends that I hold dear… friends I know hold me in the esteem I hold them.

Motherhood may have initially caused me to lose myself, but the new self I found is better. The friendships I’ve made and rekindled are stronger. I am a better me and, consequently, better friend now than I was before. Motherhood helped me grow. I am a mother.