Mommy Friendships: I'm Not a Great Friend Right Now

Mommy Friendships:

I'm Not a Great Friend Right Now


Last Saturday I met with some new friends for appetizers and drinks. We laughed, talked, lip glossed, ordered another round and laughed some more. It was so much fun and didn't feel like a lot of effort or hard work to meet up. We didn't take any pictures or Instagram our pretty mango margaritas. Sometimes when I'm having fun and wrapped up in giggling and conversation it almost feels very inauthentic to yell, "STOP! Let's take a picture, guys." So no pictures this time. Which, I think, was clearly indicative of too good of a time.

As I mentioned, these ladies are new friends, all moms with three or more children. I was thinking about several conversations I've participated in regarding the subject of female friendships, in particular, making and keeping friendships with other moms or as a mom with small children. Sometimes it all just seems so difficult and like more work!

After having two babies in two years I went into what I call a "social funk." I really didn't want anything to do with leaving the house. I would have grand ideas about going out with friends, getting out and socializing again. I would even make plans. But as the day approached, I slowly but surely started coming up with excuses as to why I couldn't possibly follow through with my plans. And I cancelled. This happened about 90% of the time. Why? Because I just didn't feel like it. I didn't have a better reason.

This is so totally different than before having my second and third child. We hosted parties, we attended just about everything we were invited to, we had plans every weekend, and we had a big group of friends that always showed up.

But it's so different after you have kids! The cliche is right. I remember talking about this subject with an older woman. I was complaining to her that it was really hard to maintain friendships at the time when I had a baby just over one year old and a toddler with a lot of special needs. She looked at me very knowingly and said, "That's just how it is at this stage. You'll come back together with your friends. You will."

I've been hearing her voice lately.

When I finally emerged from my social funk and started accepting invites again from the few people who were still inviting, I still felt as if I couldn't show up all the time. I started hanging with new moms - moms of small children, moms who had children with special needs, online moms - and my group of friends started to look a lot different than it did before. 

At this point, if I'm being totally honest, there are two people I talk to on a daily basis. My husband and my best friend. I also have a handful of people I talk to at least once a week, usually by text or Facebook. And then I have friends that I see or talk to a few times a month through Facebook or text. We do things every once in awhile and I'm ever so grateful these friends still think to invite us to parties and get-togethers even when we keep saying no. 

I used to feel really bad about that. And I would wonder when the day would come that these friends would just stop inviting all together. I wrestled with not being an available friend and not really showing up to a lot of things for old friends because this wasn't holding up my end of the bargain as a friend.

I finally just had to concede to a few truths. At this point in my life, I'm not going to be good at maintaining friendships. I can't be responsible for regular catch ups and get-togethers. I can't even be trusted to show up. I can do what I'm doing right now. I can text and Facebook friends like nobody's business. I can get together with four awesome women on a 48 hour notice if my husband is home or with the right babysitter that just so happens to be available. I can meet for coffee or Starbucks and Target like a boss. I can do Pilates classes together, go to the gym together, or a lunch every now and then. That's what I can do right now. Maybe it'll be different in the future. But right now? I'm just not a great friend.

I won't lie. I fall victim to friend envy. This is when I see pictures of women with a whole gaggle of girlfriends. All of them close and in each other's lives for the last twenty years. I think - Wow! That would be so nice to have so many close friends like that. But then I react in the same way as when I see a newborn and I think it's cute. My very next thought is - but that looks like a lot of work. I just can't maintain that, nor do I want to.

This realization about myself and being okay with it comes as a surprise to me. Having my first son at seventeen was a very lonely experience. There was no Facebook or online mommy group and there weren't a lot of eighteen year olds I knew of that were hosting playgroups for their babies. Now I look back and think that maybe that was all I could handle. Just a baby and myself. Barely.

Now, I'm embracing it. I'm giving my all to the close relationships I have now. I have really great online friendships that I consider very real. They're some of my closest, actually. And you know why? Because I can wait until the rest of my life is sleeping and send an email at midnight if I want to. That's the kind of friendship I can maintain right now. That's what I can do.

So if you find yourself with small children and you're having a hard time making friends or keeping friends, don't fret. I've been told it's a stage and that there will be a time for friendships and a social life again. 

I'm cool with that.

20 comments:

  1. OH MY GOODNESS! Thanks for echoing some of my feelings. We moved about 45 minutes away from our closest friends not long before we became parents, and find it hard to do all of the things we used to. I felt really isolated. Add that to the fact that my dad died a month after the baby came, so I wasn't emotionally ready to reach out as much as I could have. Sometimes I did, but other times it was too hard. I realize, though, that I miss people, and I am trying to do as much as I can to be present, without wearing myself out.

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    1. It is so hard to make that first step in getting out there but usually I don't regret it! But I think the biggest eat rule for me and friendships is that it has to be easy. Otherwise, I just can't maintain!

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  2. Enjoyed your post. I think life changes of all different sorts play a part in our friendships. I remember when I was 40, and I became widowed. I never realized that my social circle was small (without my large family) and it never mattered to me as my hubby and I did everything together. Luckily for me, a coworker started asking to join in with her on dinners, shows etc with her group of friends. Newly "single" even though I still felt married, I went along. They were amazing to me, and we even have a Jane Austen group. Another lady invited me to join in with her friends, and we have "ladies night out" and lots of fun like tea parties. I mention this, as you have the right idea, your friends will be there, and the group change, but in the end you have a fabulous family and that is really the important thing.

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    1. Wow! That is so awesome that you have a great group of ladies to help you get out there! Sounds like fun! So sorry about your husband. Makes me think about my husband being one of my daily go-to's and what if he were gone? Good for you for getting back out there!

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  3. Great post! I have had a similar experience. We were the first couple in our group of friends to begin having children. After my daughter was born it was like drawing a line in the sand, between our friends who were thinking about/trying to get pregnant and the ones who were not even close. I think it just comes with the different stages of life. I used to feel bad about it as well, as some of the people who feel by the wayside we were really close with, but then I thought about the fact that those friendships had just run their course. They were exactly what I needed at that time of my life, but now I had moved on and new friendships would come. And they did. I think as a Mom, friendships take on a different form, at least mine did.

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    1. That is so true. Friendships do run their course and not every friendship should be carried on to the next stage of life! We were the opposite of you- all our friends at the time had already been married and having kids for a while when we finally got married an decided to he children. So by the time I was knee deep in diapers they were all moved on from that stage and ready to party. Not me! And still not me! Well, sometimes. It's getting better!

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  4. I feel the same way when I see pictures of women with groups of good friends they've known forever! I have zero friends from high school now. I have 1 good friend from college who lives across the country. I had a group of awesome work friends but we all live in different places. and currently I have a few good friends but it's not the same as the ones I envy and those that hang out together all the time!

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    1. I know what you mean! I was a military brat so the concept of not having friends from childhood isn't new to me. I do get envious of those women that have a lot of friends. But, at the same time, I also don't have the energy or the time to maintain that many "close" relationships.

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  5. I think we all go through phases and stages depending on where we are in life. After I had my 3rd child I isolated myself feeling as though no one understood my life with 3 kids one of whom was severally disabled, and I just didn't have the energy for friends,. I think in time we all circle around to having what we really need in life, and although we may desire more friends at times, perhaps we don't really want them, we always seem to have what we really need at any given moment

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    1. You're so right! Energy! I didn't have the energy! The funny thing is that when I would finally get out a meet a friend for lunch it was the best time! But it's just the ability to rally, I guess, that seems to need work.

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  6. Amazing post! I'm a working mom, so on the weekends I want to spend time with my KIDS not my girlfriends. It's not realistic to keep up with friends the same way I did in college and in my 20s now that I have babies and genuinely have a good time. I do catch up with my friends every 3 months or so and we are great supporters of each other and respect each other's busy schedules. Stopping by from SITS :)

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    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I've seen you on SITS, too! And I think I commented on your blog about date night with Robin Thicke!

      I think it's just really hard to maintain friendships when you have small children unless its really easy and effortless. If it involves maintenance and work, I can't deal. That's just the way it is. In other words, I need drama free, easy going people in my life right now!

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  7. Finally someone has said what I am always feeling! I can be a bad friend!

    Although I don't have children, I still find myself in bad friend category. I don't like talking on the phone except to my husband, my mom, and my best friend. If it's actually going out and doing something, I have 3-5 I actually like to do things with. And they almost always make the plans. I like to think this is because I am married and they are single, but let's face it, I am just not good about making plans with people. I usually try to go if I can, though. And I am so awful about keeping up with people on Facebook. And I barely text. If you text me, I will text you back, but it never even crosses my mind to text someone. Basically, I enjoy blogging because I love to write, but I completely fail at social media. And I'm actually finally starting to accept that. I always felt like this madde me a bad and heartless person. I have just started to realize that it's okay to only want a few close relationships. And my real friends know how I am and love me anyway, so they don't mind being the ones to call me first.

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  8. I'm right there with you girl! It's so so hard and I feel like as a woman I have to put up this mask like, " I got this! I can do it all!" When in reality I come home as stressed or I'm running late just trying to show up.

    I've also had a lot of friend disappointment since having kids. My still single friends just don't get it. They don't understand why I don't have time or emphasize that it's hard. Such a strange stage of life and thanks for bringing this up.

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  10. Perhaps your friends are as overloaded as you and are maybe feeling like bad friends themselves. I'd say you are all really good friends because you don't put impossible demands on one another. And I am another "older woman" who will tell you to hang in there. You will get back to a time you can be "all in" with your friendships.

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  12. To everything there is a season...there's a lot of truth to that. Don't beat yourself up, and do the best you can do. It's all any of us can do, really!

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  14. LOVE this. Story of my life. I have a big group of girlfriends, many who Ive known since middle school or longer. I was the first to get married, first to have a kid and now about to have my second in 8 days. I've considered Facebooking a PSA that I will be out of commission for a while and will maintain friendships only with those who will understand that I can only be a certain type of friend right now, and it's not that type that will be at the beck and call. I never wanted to be that person who said, "you really don't get it until you have kids" but seriously? It's the truth.

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