When you’re a mom, you need friends. Because you have those days…
When the baby is puking, but has an apparent aversion to bowls and will only vomit into your hands.
When your 3-year-old quietly stuffs his backpack with all his cousin’s toys and a couple of baby monitors and walks out the door like America’s Most Wanted.
When you lose your temper.
When you can’t seem to find your floor anymore because there is so much clutter.
You need friends you can be real with.
Friends who love you as you are and laugh at you when you leave your car running for an entire Costco shopping trip.
Friends you can ugly-cry with.
Friends who gently point out your under-chin hair.
Friends who, when you lose a wardrobe battle with your girls, congratulate you on having ’80s-style children. Having real connections is vital to your soul.
When I first became a mom, under-socialization was my #1 problem.
I used to strap my baby into his car seat and head to the closest coffee stand just to have an adult conversation. “Please, dear barista, let’s be best friends. Would you like me to come in there and hang out with you?”
When my hubby walked through the door I’d attack him with a fireman’s hose of pent-up verbiage.
Three kids later, even one adult-less day is still terrifying. But when you’re a stay-at-home mom you’re not heading to an office or professional adult environment each day, so let’s just say that opportunities for friendship aren’t exactly presenting themselves organically. What’s a girl to do?
The whirlwind of transition between marriage and children left me lonely. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure how to catch up on the mountains of laundry, much less find some besties.
But somewhere along the line, I realized that in order to survive I needed close friends, and it was up to me to find them.
Here are some tips I learned along the way.
1. Make the first move.
Did you meet someone you’d like to get to know? Don’t wait for them to pursue you. People are busy, and they’re often just as intimidated as you are.
As I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and taken the risk of friendship, I’m blown away not only by how receptive people are, but also by how grateful they are.
Make a playdate at the park, ask them to go out for drinks, invite their family over for dinner, host a game night, join a club or women’s group.
Make the first move and then keep moving.
2. Be authentic.
Be brave and be real. Invite them over when your house is less than perfect. Be willing to share your true self. Like, “Hey, I accidentally taught my 2-year-old the F word today.”
There is a myth that we have to impress in order to deserve connection. It’s a nasty lie. Worshipping at the altar of perfection does nothing more than isolate us.
We are ALL imperfect! Remember, the goal is to find someone who can connect with you, someone you can be vulnerable with, someone who’s willing to go shopping with you after you’ve had another baby and watch you try to wiggle yourself into “skinny jeans.”
So set the standard. And if they do reject you for being real? It’s fine! Bye!
3. Don’t judge.
Take people as they are. Have a hard time dealing with other moms’ quirks? The problem probably lies in the way you perceive yourself.
If you have huge expectations for yourself and have a hard time accepting certain things about yourself, you’ll inevitably project that onto others as well. Let yourself off the hook!
You are winning and you are failing. This process is beautiful, messy and HARD.
I have found free-spirited friends, calculated friends, researcher friends, health nuts, clean freaks, homeschool geniuses, TV haters, TV fiends, career women, single-mom goddesses, thinkers, feelers and not-yet-having-kids friends.
Make a pledge to be safe for the moms around you. Don’t judge. Connection is better than perfection.
4. Get over awkwardness.
Repeat after me: “It WILL be awkward.” Anticipate it and IGNORE it.
Getting to know anyone can be awkward, and some of the best connections don’t start “easy.” Many of my most valuable relationships now are ones that started in terribly awkward ways.
Those people were the gems who brought things to my life that I don’t carry on my own. We’re naturally attracted to people who are the same as us. I’m an expressive extrovert, but I’m so very thankful for more quiet and reserved friends and so grateful I ignored awkwardness.
Motherhood is beautiful and it is scary as hell. But no matter how alone you feel in this moment, there are others trudging along with you.
Many days, they feel like their screw-ups far outweigh their successes. I know this because I am one of them.
5. Just keep going. Don’t give up. Make the time.
Of course it takes a while to get to the place where friends are willing to be really real with you, but there is so much power in connection at any stage of your friendship.
If you keep taking the risk, keep being bold and authentic, and keep taking the time to pursue connection, you will get there. I believe in you, mama. You are WORTH IT.