Guys, I am so excited to be joining up with an insanely talented group of moms for the Real Talk with Real Mom series spearheaded by my friend Jen of The Effortless Chic. Most of these ladies have been blogging together about motherhood for a year or more now, and I’m really looking forward to being part of the pack. I’ll be using this as an opportunity to talk more about about the various issues, large and small, surrounding motherhood (and how I try not to screw up my kid) on a monthly basis in a way that is hopefully an interesting read for you. My monthly posts will also link to each of the other participating moms so you can read their stories and perspectives, too. This month we’re all dishing on friendships and, quite honestly, this could not be a more timely topic for me.
As this post goes live, my best friend and I will be embarking on a little mani/pedi date this morning. It’s something we strive for once a month, but in reality happens every two to three months if we’re lucky. It just so happens that today her much older kiddos (who are in high school and who love Baby E right to bits) are off school this week and therefore are available to wrangle my munchkin so we can sneak away for a couple of hours. This is all very noteworthy because it happens so infrequently. I don’t believe I’ve had a date with a friend that didn’t involve kids in going on three months. It is what it is, as they say, but it can also be difficult. Where before it was so easy to just grab coffee or sneak over to each other’s houses with a bottle of wine, now these things take effort and coordination and sometimes, it feels, an act of Congress just to get together. C’est la vie!
At the sake of being a complete cliché, maintaining friendships now that I’m a mom is something I didn’t anticipate being so tricky. Certainly there’s far less face to face time, and that seems even more true for friends who don’t have kids of their own. I know we have friends who are probably hurt or even a touch resentful that we see each other so much less now, but the reality is Bob is gone from Monday morning until Friday evening for work every single week and we’re not really keen on filling our weekends with an endless string of babysitters when it’s the only time we get to spend together as a family. The really hard part about this is that because he’s not home in the evenings, it’s not even really possible for me to meet a friend at the gym or sneak off for happy hour cocktails once in a blue moon. Basically, if what you want to do doesn’t in some way involve room for an adorable one year old sidekick, I’m probably out. And even if I could rework my entire life and somehow force that act of Congress, sometimes it all just feels too complicated or I’m just too tired to want to make the effort. Reality. Because I work full time and I take care of a newly walking baby-toddler full time and because there’s no one to help me during the week, even at night, and because by nine o’clock on most every Friday night I’m usually half asleep at the very best. How’s that for living the glamorous life? Ha!
The beauty to all of this is, motherhood has also strengthened all of my really good friendships. This is particularly true with the friends of mine who are also moms. My best friend and I (the one I’m having my mani/pedi date with today) talk on the phone a few times a week. Good, long, uninterrupted conversations, usually during the day when we’re both working on fun mom-like things like doing dishes or folding laundry. (Luckily, she also works for herself so we can make these calls happen.) My other best friend and I (who lives two blocks down from us) try to get together with the kiddos weekly for play dates at her house or mine. Really, they’re mommy coffee dates, but the kids don’t know that, so let’s not spoil the fun, ok? My high school best friend and I try to connect over the phone during the week when she has a long commute home from work and I’m making Em’s dinner in the early evening. Now that I’m a mom, I remember more often to check in on other mom friends via text and we share lots of photos whether we’re a street or a state or half a country apart from one other. It may not be much, but it really does serve to help us stay feeling connection. In some ways, I feel closer to these friends than ever before.
What I try to remember in these crazy days, is that everything is a season. When the baby was a baby-baby it was actually easier to grab her and go places. Now it takes a small Army convoy just to lug all the requisite toys and snacks and books it takes to keep her entertained when she’s not at home where she can make herself happy trying to rip the curtains down. And for every friend who might get a little annoyed or frustrated if I have to cancel due to a runny nose and a baby who needs extra snuggles, there’s a handful more who are there offering to come over and deliver coffee or to restock our tissue supply if we need a hand. In that way, I’ve never felt more loved or more surrounded by friendship than I do now as a mom. In the moments when I’m stressed or feel isolated or completely alone, I know I’m really only a text away from another mom who knows exactly what I’m feeling in that moment and that can, frankly, relate in a way that even my amazing fiancée (and the world’s best daddy) cannot.
My best friend and I lament about relationships and friendships a lot these days. I guess that’s why I said this feels like a really timely post for me today. I believe what it all boils down to, what she and I both always preach to our own little choir of two, is that you have to invest in your friendships if you want those people to invest in your life, too. If you’re busy with work and day care pick ups and soccer leagues, then send them a little love and show them you remember they’re alive by shooting them a photo of your mini-me at soccer practice. Sometimes that’s all it takes to know we aren’t alone in this beautiful rat race we call motherhood. And in return, I’ll be infinitely grateful when you text me back and assure me there’s no need to be a hero, and yes it’s ok to cry and maybe rip my hair out when I’m up to my elbows in explosive diarrhea. Or when I am running late on a deadline and can’t believe I’m having to confiscate yet another toy that the baby has fed to the puppy for the one hundredth time in the same day. Because, friends, this is real life. And that was me. Last week. So to all of my fellow moms, I hope you’ll enjoy this new column and chime in with your thoughts, too! I hope we can open this up as a dialogue where we share and lament together and feel a little less alone. Maybe this can be a gateway to becoming friends to each other in that way, too. xoxo
Photos from this summer picnic we shot with Martha Stewart Living a couple years ago, and one really wonderful afternoon spent with my mom and some of my closest ladies!
[Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]