I’m still slowly but surely reading Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist, and she has a funny and insightful list in her book on “how to be friends with another woman,” so I thought I’d try the same idea, but write it for mom-friends.
Making friends becomes more difficult after college, when the built-in structures of classes and dorms and organizations are no longer there to assist you in making friends. Add to that, having a child, who takes up just a little bit of your time, and finding and meeting friends is almost impossible. [For example, I have to stop writing this post right now because Mae is waking up.] Okay, I’m back to it, eight hours later. I barely have time to write and teach, let alone take care of my friendships, BUT I want to, because my friendships sustain me. So here are my suggestions for making and keeping mom-friends.
1. Stop thinking your friend has it all together, and stop acting like you do. She doesn’t. If she did, you wouldn’t be her friend. But really, let’s be honest with each other. Invite me over when your house is a wreck. I mean a real wreck, with dog hair like tumbleweed in the corners of your kitchen floor and the diaper pail overflowing and the fridge empty. Then we can really bond.
1 A. If you can’t stop trying to have a clean house, because you feel so much pressure from society, invite me over and I’ll help mess up your house for you. It only takes a minute. Consider it exposure therapy. You can pay me in wine.
1.B. Come to my house in your pajamas.
2. Don’t start any sentence with “Oh, just wait….” if you have more children or an older child than your friend.
3. Don’t judge a woman based on her baby/children. If you see a child screaming in line at the grocery store, don’t stare or think to yourself “that mother should take control of this situation.” You don’t know her situation or her child. Maybe the child is autistic or newly adopted or is just having a horrible, terrible day. OR wouldn’t take a nap. Let her break in front of you in line and then buy her groceries for her, or at least a bottle of wine. I bet you’d make a friend.
4. If you and a friend have babies around the same time, don’t compare notes too much. Your babies will be completely different. Rejoice in her victories and listen to her sorrows. However, even though you have shared a similar experience simultaneously, you are also having totally different experiences, and you must respect that.
5. If you don’t believe in cry-it-out, keep your mouth shut. Seriously. There isn’t any hard evidence to prove your claim, and you’re just going to make people feel bad. Nobody enjoys listening to a child cry, but I’m sure your friend has thought through her choice. This advice goes for everything from bottle-feeding to public school. Don’t preach the pros and cons. We’re moms, we’ve already done all the research and made a decision. Let’s be friends anyways. Who cares if you pull your boob at lunch while I fumble around with getting formula into a bottle?
6. If you don’t believe in vaccinations, you might not make many friends.
7. You don’t have to like the dad to like the mom. Let’s get realistic. It’s hard enough to find a mom-friend. Don’t limit yourself by having to like their spouses too. Just deal with it. Your own relationships can confuse you, so just leave other people’s alone.
8. Be there for emergencies and don’t ask too many questions. Moms need friends who can help at the last minute, who can take care of the baby because if you don’t get a glass of wine alone, your might explode, and they understand this is an emergency. Friends who let you wake them up at 5 AM because you have to borrow their car because your locked yourself out and need to get to work. Friends who let you raid their medicine cabinet when your dog dies and you need a sedative.
9. Moms need friends who don’t expect them to remember anything. If you let a mom-friend borrow something, you aren’t getting it back for a while, or ever, but that’s the deal. She might not remember your birthday, but when she does, she’ll give you a kick-ass gift, or just a bottle of wine, which is kick-ass. We all need to lower our expectations a little, or a lot. God, we should all get off Pinterest, and just give each other wine for all gifts, even baby showers and first birthdays, just wine. I’d rather have that than your baby’s footprint turned into mistletoe art, let’s be honest.
10. Mostly, moms need friends who love their children, even when they are hard to love. She needs a friend whose eyes remind her how beautiful her baby is when she’s been up all night long with that screaming baby. She needs a friend who tells her that her baby is right on track, perfect, and her friend is sincere. A friend who is in love with her child because she considers him/her family. Mom-friends are more like a tribe, a chosen family. Once you’re in, you’re in. We’re kind of like the mafia.
What else would you add to this list?