You wouldn’t think this is something we would need a “how-to” on, right? I thought about that, then I thought about the friends I have and have had since having my girls. Navigating friendships amidst children and husbands is a delicate thing, BUT IT SHOULDN’T BE.
I’m sure we have all had friends who made us feel less than a good friend, less than a good mama, less than just about anything. We’ve had friends who engaged in the dreaded “Mommy Wars.” We have had friends who were just not nice. So here is my question…. why? And here is my answer… We feel the need to fit in as moms. Yep. I said it. Peer pressure as a mom is twelve times worse than it ever was as a teenager. Our parents spent years teaching us to avoid the peer pressure we would encounter as teenagers, then BAM. We have kids and the REAL games begin.
I want to talk to y’all about what I’ve learned about choosing friends, and why it’s so important.
The first thing I look for in a friend is being non-judgemental. This isn’t like dating where everyone puts their best foot forward. Your first time out with another mama, you’ll know. If she hears a toddler screaming in Target, you can decide if she’s the best friend or you based on her reaction. Does she make a face and say, “She needs to control that child.” or does she grab her extra bag of animal crackers and say, “Hey, mama. You’re doing a good job. Think these would help you out?”
I have a friend who lives right next door. She has a little boy who is 19 months old. For the past year and a half, I had horrible postpartum depression, which you can read about HERE. My house was always a mess and I just didn’t feel up to doing anything. Holly was one person I knew wouldn’t judge me for the way my house looked. She would just show up at the back door with Ethan and we’d watch friends or just talk or go walk with the kids in the strollers. There was NEVER any pressure to cook or clean or apologize for the fits the kids threw. It is just easy with Holly. THIS IS THE TYPE OF FRIEND YOU NEED. The type who pops over with strawberry shortcake and doesn’t care if the floor is covered in dog hair or the kids haven’t been bathed in five days.
(Here’s a photo of Holly. She’s a breastfeeding counselor at our Health Department. Super Breastfeeder!)
You can see why I love her. She’s a goober like me.
I have a friend who I love dearly, but I know if she were to come over and my house weren’t clean, I’d be able to feel the judgement. I have another friend who doesn’t understand three year olds because she doesn’t have one. So when my VERY strong-willed kiddo is being a kid, she “corrects” her pretty harshly. Here’s my thing with that. I’m here and it’s my kid. So I will handle her in my own house. She is an AWESOME kid. She is also three. She’s not going to do EVERYTHING the first time she’s told. She will get distracted. She will do something else because she wants to. And she isn’t a bad kid. She is just a LITTLE kid. There’s a difference. Hence, we can’t hang out often. Now, I love these two girls dearly. I know if I REALLY needed either one of them, I could call. And they know that about me. We just don’t spend too much time together.
Another thing I look for is similar values. It’s important to have things in common with your mom friends. You won’t agree on EVERYTHING. It’s just not possible. However, the friends you choose have children to whom they will be passing on their values. These children will be playing with your children. If you don’t want bad habits being passed around betwixt the children, choose friends who teach their children similar values as you do yours. Also, if you are both Christians, women conferences are fun to do together. If you both are into exercise, walks with the kids are awesome.
And one thing I always pay attention to is HOW THESE PEOPLE MAKE ME FEEL. If you always feel like you’re being put down instead of being built up, you might want to reevaluate that friendship. If you feel like you’re constantly being judged, you might want to spend a little less time with that person.
Friendships should always add to you as a person. They should never take anything away from you.
Ladies, look for other ladies who will build you up and be the friend that builds them up.
Love to my Loves,