|photo courtesy of graur codrin|
I think one of the main reasons it's so difficult is because when we become moms, we become so focused on the little ones that we often forget about ourselves. We throw everything into making sure that we're doing the best job as a mom that we can do which isn't all bad...but I think that if we lose everything that makes us "us" that's when we have difficulties, not only in making friends but also with ourselves.
I watched an episode of TLC's What Not to Wear on Tuesday because I saw it was featuring a mommy blogger. Her name was Amanda and she writes for Parenting by Dummies. On the show, they berated Amanda not only for her fashion choices but also for the way she talked about herself. She never thought she was beautiful and put everything she had into her family, her blog...but not herself. After getting her makeover and learning more about fashion, it seems like she really enjoyed her time there and learned a lot from it. She wrote a post over on the WNTW blog and I really liked this part of it, which I think all of us mommas can take to heart:
You deserve a minute. Your family really can live without you. Maybe not for much more than a week and definitely not forever, but for the ten minutes you spend showering, brushing your teeth, and putting your face back together after a super short night of child interrupted sleep, they’ll be fine. And, even if you decide to just spend your 10 minutes in that bathroom shoving cupcakes down your throat and reading Twilight fanfaction, you deserve those ten minutes every morning (and maybe again at night too) and they can just suck it up. Or spill juice on your carpet, break your iPhone screen, and smack each other silly. Whatever, you’ve gotI know I got off track a little but I promise this all works together...somehow. I read an article on MSNBC about making mom friends that said it well, "Making new mom friends is...much like dating since you are looking for other moms with whom you really connect." Ick, dating. I don't want to do that again. I'm an old married lady now! Well, married and pretty much a lady...perhaps not old.
your cupcakesyour 10 minutes.
The article from MSNBC goes on to list lots of ideas of how to meet and connect with people. I've tried several different methods for finding mommy friends - getting to pick-up time early at the school my son briefly attended, looking for moms at the park or library, joining a mommy group, finding friends online, going to a Mommy & Me class and just plain ol' talking to other moms I see/happen to meet. I've had varying degrees of success and failure and I don't think one method works better than the other. (Perhaps tomorrow - or the next day - I'll write about some of my successes and failures...if anyone's interested that is.)
I do know that it takes time and effort to come to consider someone your friend, rather than just a casual acquaintance or someone you talk to every once in awhile - just like it takes time and effort to commit to work on "you" for a little while each day. (Ha, I told you I'd tie all these things together!) Before you can work on finding friends, I think it's good to make sure that you actually know what kinds of things you enjoy, outside of raising your children and managing your family.
I think it's also difficult because we as mothers, and as human beings, can be so different in our views, ideas and opinions. While raising our children, we cling to the notion that what we're doing is "right" and most of the time it is. But as I'm sure you know, what's right for one is not always right for the other. So when we're in a group of moms (or one-on-one, even) it can be easy to slip into competitiveness, jealousy or a plethora of other bad emotions when discussing our parenting styles and child-rearing ideas. There are so many issues too that really shouldn't be issues - stay at home vs. working moms, breast vs. formula, vaccines vs. delayed vaccines, cloth diapers vs. regular diapers, etc. etc. - I obviously have opinions on those things and I know what's worked with me so far but the next baby could be entirely different! I may have to throw my parenting handbook (such as it is) completely out the window! So even though I personally feel natural childbirth is best, if I see that someone on my Facebook friends list has posted a status update about opting for a c-section, I'm not going to attack her page with bitter diatribes about my beliefs. I have no idea what's going on in her life. I may ask her why politely and share some of my ideas (if she's willing to hear them) but I won't beat her over the head with my copy of Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth. I think that to develop a friendship (or any relationship) with someone you have to have common interests, but you also have to know how to embrace your differences.
ANYWAY...before I end up writing an entire book on this entry, I guess I should wrap things up. My conclusion is this: You have to take a little time for yourself in order to be someone else other than just "mom" and to be able to make friends. To find friends, use whatever method you want that works for you. To keep friends, embrace your interests and differences. And possibly your friend, if they like hugs. :)
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!
P.S. The photo at the top of this post is not myself and one of my friends. I was going to use a picture of one of my mom friends & yours truly but *gasp* I HAVE NONE. We're always too busy taking pictures of our kids. This situation needs to be rectified as soon as possible. So if you're one of my friends and you have children, we're taking pictures the next time I see you. You've been warned! (I really do have friends, I promise...)