Mom Friends Are Great, Until You Want To Talk About Something Besides Parenting
Mom friends are so important when you have kids. It’s vital to have someone with whom you can share tales of poop explosions, tantrums, and how isolating and difficult parenthood can be sometimes. Since my kids were born, I’ve done a good job of finding playdates and mom groups to keep us all socializing, but I’m beginning to tire of a life filled with relationships that are centered around solely around having kids.
We moved recently, so all of my pre-baby friends are halfway across the country and most of my new friends are people I met through doing things with my kids. These days if I go out, it’s usually to a kids activity, play group, or birthday party. If I go out with friends without the kids, it’s most often some sort of mom’s night out event where we spend the majority of our time discussing what happened with the kids that week, babysitters, partners, or how worn out we are from dealing with the kids. Even if the evening isn’t mom-centered, I still end up discussing parenting and my family more than anything else. I worry that my commonalities with my friends begin and end with the fact that we’re parents and I feel frightened by the possibility.
I write professionally and I have a lot of interests and hobbies outside of my responsibilities as a wife and mom. I consider myself a well-rounded person and it’s difficult being boxed in to one facet of my life. According to society, I am a mom first and everything else second, only we never get around to discussing the secondary things. Motherhood takes precedence. It consumes my identity, at least in the eyes of other people.
I can understand society having a screwed up, singular view of women and motherhood, but I hate that I might be mimicking that in my own friendships. I hate that I can go to a playdate and still come home with that anxious, bottled up feeling because I haven’t gotten to talk about any of my real life stresses or desires outside of the day to day struggles with my kids. I haven’t gotten to vent about work or talk about how excited I am for an upcoming promotion. I haven’t really gotten to talk about myself at all.
Family is the core of who we are and parenting is a huge undertaking, so it makes sense that we bond over these experiences. We all need that lifeline of knowing someone else is going through it, can relate, and can be there to help us through. I adore my mom friends and I know they will always be there for a laugh, a pick-me-up, or even if I need a quick sitter so I can pop out of the house for half an hour. I think I just miss the way it feels to know my friends are spending time with me because of me and nothing else.
When friendships are so kid-centered, it’s hard to know whether you’re friends because you genuinely click, or because your kids get along and you can tolerate one another. Kids eventually grow up, and I’d hate to think all these friendships will then dissolve because they were only built on convenience. I guess it comes down to me. I have to engage people the way I want to be engaged, look past the easy commonalities (like our kids), and try to build the strongest bonds I can. If I want these mom friendships to last, I need to put less emphasis on the mom part and more emphasis on friends.