It wasn’t so hard in college to make real friends, right? My prerequisites for making friends didn’t go far beyond liking Beastie Boys, Friends, and Saturday nights at the local dump of a frat house. Amazingly, I was able to create and maintain lifelong friendships with the girls who I had these things in common with at age 20. Often, though, when we become moms, we have some additional holes to fill in the ‘mom friends’ category. Having a friend that you can call to rage about your job, to grab a drink with after a brutal week, and to go on much-needed girls weekends isn’t all that you need.
We live in a world where moms are not always well taken care of–not in the way they were years ago, at least. We don’t always have our moms or sisters coming to stay with us after babies are born, we don’t usually live down the street from grandparents that are willing to help out in a moment’s notice, and rarely will you find a neighborhood where all the women are in the same season of life. Couple that with often having husbands that work and travel a great deal, our managing a steady stream of information overload from social media, all the while we’re trying to manage (or resist) the ever growing number of extracurricular activities that our kiddos are involved with and you can see, we need more support than ever.
That’s why it’s so important to not only build your village, tribe by tribe but to also start eliminating the boundaries you have with those friends. Yes, when you find the right friend, you ELIMINATE boundaries. You don’t knock on the door when you go to their house. You call at a moment’s notice and tell them you’re coming over. You call instead of texting (TRUE friendship). You beg them to take your kids for a couple of hours. Boundaries crumble.
I’ve been pretty blessed to have some amazing women in my life that always seem willing to step up when I need them. Seriously, for the day-to-day grind of motherhood, I seem to rely on my friends more than I do my own family. And, many of these friends are not ones I’ve had for 20+ years. Some are moms that I’ve met at preschool and in the neighborhood that have grown to become family.
But how? How do we turn a casual relationship with a mom from preschool into a REAL friend, one we can rely on through thick and thin? How do we suggest to the mom at the bus stop that we should spend time together outside of those 10 minutes each morning? Easy.
You go first.
Someone has to be the first to suggest a playdate or a picnic. Why not let it be you? If you feel like you’ve met a mom that you connect with, if you enjoy spending time with her and find yourself scheduling time for the kids to get together just so the two of you can chat, you know you’re on to something. And, who cares if the kiddos aren’t BFFs. At young ages, they’ll play with most anyone, so…schedule playdates with the people YOU want to spend time with.
Great. Done. So, how do you take it to the NEXT level still? And, no, we’re not dating here. 🙂 We’re nurturing a new friendship into one that is dependable, goes both ways, and doesn’t skip a beat when you have a couple of busy weeks come between you.
Again, you go first.
You show up for her. You recognize she has a need and you fill it. Without asking.
- You pick up Starbucks for her when you know she’s been cooped up with sick kids for a week.
- Is she having a baby? Don’t ask if you can bring dinner and visit. Not an option. Tell her you’re bringing dinner on Tuesday and will leave it on her porch at 5pm.
- When you watch her kids, tell her stay out as long as she needs.
- If you’re in a pinch, say this: ‘Tell me what you need.’ That’s all you need to say. A friend said those words to me when I was having an impossibly tough time juggling our schedules and I literally got teary eyed.
The other way you can go first is that you can be the first to ask for help. Basically, you become desperate enough to beg for help yourself. If you’re hesitant to ask for help first, rest assured, you are doing your new friend a favor. By going first, you are giving her permission to ask for help when she needs it. And, that is the beginning of a glorious relationship.
And, aside from the companionship, the laughs and the tears, there’s another lesser appreciated reason why mom friendships are so important.
Moms say ‘thank you’ to one another. Duh.
Truth is, I help my kiddos 1000 times a day, in hundreds of different ways. Once or twice a day, I get a thank you, usually as a call-and-response. Call: ‘What do you say?’ Response: ‘Thank you.’ BUT, when we love on our mom friends, we ALWAYS get thanked. Often, the degree of thanks we receive is far greater than the actual deed prompting it. And, that’s because we’re all living in similar boats. Sometimes you just can’t help gushing words of thanks to your new friend that just dropped off ginger ale for you while you’re recovering from the stomach bug with your kiddo. True story. Clearly.
So, go ahead. Think of that friend you’d like to have as a bigger part of your life. Go do something for her tomorrow that will lighten her load. No really…you go first.