Lets face it, friendships change when you’re a Mom.
Not just because we seem to sprout additional appendages with each child, but because our make-up changes. I was a proud extrovert all through high school and college, involved in extra-curriculars with a wide group of friends; I may have even been nominated for a few of those homecoming and prom things. I loved people – so I had to be an extrovert, right? Well come to find out I do love people, but they aren’t where I draw my energy. So holy cow, I’m an introvert. Nothing like motherhood to point out huge cracks in the foundation of everything you’ve built yourself upon, right?
Well along with the recognition of my changing social patterns, motherhood has shown me what kind of a friend I am and what kind of friends I need surrounding me at this point in my life. Recognizing this has helped me make the most of my friendships.
We have an unspoken busyness constantly swirling in our heads, one that can be hard on our relationships. (Sorry husbands.) We’re sifting through mental lists and planning three steps ahead. Can I make that coffee date and still be able to to start dinner? Will hitting the gym get me home in time to make the hubby’s batch of breakfast burritos? With kids, this is amplified ten-fold. Diaper changes, the ever-elusive nap schedule, fourteen to seventeen meals a day (if your kids are like mine), play time without concussions, etc. (No wonder we marvel at the gift of showering.) In the midst of this busyness, have you ever committed to and attended a friend date where you came away feeling like you wasted your time? That you could have checked six things off of your list, had you cancelled? I know it sounds awful, but next time this happens, try identifying what it was about the situation that made you feel empty.
For me, it’s the inauthentic. Every single time. I can’t stand surface conversation. I’ve found that when I am vulnerable and authentic, and the person I’m with is too, not only does our friendship grow, but I grow, and that is never wasted time. Then, like magic, I come away energized! Anything I could’ve been checking off my list is happily pushed to another slot.
It is all about quality over quantity for me. Infrequent “deep” dates keep my friendships strong for the times we’re just not able to get together.
Maybe you’re a creator or innovator. Add an artistic element or craft that makes you feel accomplished and energized, a project that you can complete together. If exercise gives you some extra Mom-zeal, meet for a hike or at the gym. Or if you’re super lucky, like I’ve been, you can get the best of all worlds and have intimate amazing conversation WHILE hiking, gymming, or crafting. Break the cycle of coffee and wine dates and do things that make you feel productive, making the most of what little time we allot for our friendships.
My sister recently spoke to a group of Moms regarding what her friend dates look like with five children. I was blessed to get a recording and one of the things she said was so black and white and poignant. Your friends love you, so by extension, they love your children. (If they don’t, maybe reevaluate the friendship’s place in your life for now.) She said we’ve been given our children to raise, to shape, and to form quite literally, so for the majority of your friend-dates, you should be able to take them along.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t indulge in AWESOME adult only dates, but it means you shouldn’t be discouraged from interaction as a result of your children.
She actually said “My ducklings go where I go” and I just love that visual. You’ve heard a million times that we teach far more to our children by modeling than we ever will by teaching alone, so what a great lesson in character if your children get to see that Mommy is the same amazing woman with them as she is with her friends. (Side note, this will help if you have a cursing problem and the “saint” gene fell to your sister while you got the “sailor” gene instead.) If you don’t want your children to be negative, critical, judgmental gossips, you will live out the behaviors and characteristics you wish for them to embody. And who doesn’t love a friend who is encouraging, uplifting, vulnerable, and IS all these things sincerely?
Friendships are built to come alongside us and our families, no matter where we are, to form a village of sorts. A village that helps you navigate hardship and suffering, celebrates your conquests and victories, and loves you and yours on your best and worst days.
They’re here so we don’t have to do life alone. So whether your friend-style is raw and authentic, artsy and creative, outdoorsy and fit… all or none of the above – you will make the most of your friendships when they make you a “better you.”