National Friendship Day: What I’ve learned about friendships now that I am a mother.
Growing up I was never one of the popular girls and for the most part, I was completely okay with that. I had close friends who I spent most of my time with and they were like sisters to me. I think I literally spent more time as a teenager at my best friend’s house than my own. After I graduated high school my friends and I seemed to drift apart as we moved away, went to college or got jobs. The friends I ended up having left in town were mostly ones that I talked to at work or through social media.
At 24, I found myself married and welcoming my first daughter. I dropped down to working part-time and although I loved spending time with my family, I was a natural extrovert and missed having real friends. I decided to join some Facebook groups, even starting my own for a little while and trying a local MOPS group out. Those first couples of years of searching, I found some great friends but learned many things in the process.
Meshing well with others.
First, not everyone is going to mesh well with you. We all have different beliefs, likes, and dislikes. Sometimes even when you try, they don’t work well with yours. You can be kind to them but you have to waste your precious time trying to make the friendship work just because you are both there and that is okay.
Second, don’t expect one group of friends to like the other groups of friends you have. Forcing groups of friends to hang out together just because they have a common friend in you isn’t really the best idea. Someone will feel left out or you will feel exhausted trying to make sure everyone is being heard.
Make time for your friendships.
Third, motherhood, especially the early years, is the hardest but making time for your friends in all the craziness is still important. Will it be possible to have a coffee date without your kids every week? No, but even a short text conversation, a playdate at a park or someone’s house. One of my favorites, that a friend recently did, was sending a letter reminding them why they make a great friend will keep a friendship going.
When in doubt walk away.
Fourth, walk away from any friendship that causes drama. This one has been the toughest for me. I am a people pleaser and I want everyone to like me and I am beginning to realize that is not realistic. I no longer waste my time on a friendship that stresses me out or makes me sad. It is disappointing that in my 30s there are still people who are hurtful to other people but like I always tell my girls, if someone is mean to you, just walk away.
Finally, find ones that you can be completely yourself with and who is honest and trustworthy. Trying to be someone you aren’t will not make for a long friendship. My friends know that I can say things without thinking before speaking and don’t take offense when I say things incorrectly. My favorite story was one day while walking around a book store with one of my friends and I walked ahead of her and turned around and instead of saying “If I am walking too fast, let me know.” I said, “ If I am walking too fast, it’s fine.” She could’ve taken offense to that statement but instead, we cracked up laughing and it has been one of our ongoing jokes for years. Also, my group of friends has a code word for being honest with each other. If we know that something we may say may come off as rude we use the code word instead of saying “I’m sorry but….” so we know that we are speaking our minds and we don’t mean anything by it.
There are other things I have learned while navigating this for the last 8 years of being a mother but hopefully this has helped others who have had a tough time finding and maybe even keeping friends while juggling motherhood too!