Michelle Obama said, “even with the chaos, motherhood had also brought with it a set of wonderful friendships.” She spoke of how diverse her friend group was; some had careers, others stay at moms, but they were all like-minded in that they were educated, ambitious, dedicated to their kids and just as unhitched as the next mom. She explained that they “all lived in a state of constant calibration, tweaking one area of life in hopes of bringing more steadiness to another.” Man, I’ve never heard motherhood described so perfectly. Her time with her mom friends taught her that there was no formula for motherhood. Whenever she was around her friends, she knew they’d all be okay.
While I’m lucky to have friends in general, I have a different appreciation for my friends who are mothers. Why? Like Aunty Chelle, I need like-minded mom friends around me who’ve experienced what I’m dealing with to remind me that this too shall come to pass. Because rest assured, when you’re a mother, it’s always something that needs to get on up through.
When I first moved to Indianapolis I felt so alone. I could call my sister up and hang out with her and her friends, but there was one resounding theme: I was the only one with kids. Not only was this prevalent in conversations, it was evident in the way that they supported me. It’s not anything that they did or didn’t do, as they helped me when they could with pick ups and babysitting until I could get off of work, giving me a break when I was at my wits end. None of this goes unnoticed or unappreciated. In fact, my anxiety is always in the back of my head telling me to keep bottles of wine in my car for the next time I run into them. But! I was (and still am) a prideful person who needed sympathy.
I often found myself comparing my pace to their’s when we had completely different lives, completely different priorities. I needed to be around someone who shared my misery. Someone who knew that the pamphlet the physicians handed out wasn’t always the answer. Someone to sit with me while I did laundry without wondering why there was so much. Someone who understood that coparenting doesn’t always make sense. I needed someone who was in the mud, someone who KNEW. My mom friends, whether near or far, have been a blessing in allowing me to build both a physical and emotional support system. If you don’t have a mom group, here’s why you need one:
- To know that you aren’t alone.
Single motherhood obviously means only one parent is doing the job, so a village is imperative. In the past, villages have been composed of our family members; grandmas and great aunties alike. In today’s time, many grandparents are still working, kid free aunties are out brunching, and little cousins are watching TikTok videos that I just can’t let my babies indulge in with a good conscience. In other words, everyone is living their best lives. I don’t want to be the one who interrupts them with these kids! Kevin Hart said women hate to hear men having fun. The truth is, moms hate to see anyone having fun. Ha! So, you need someone who can empathize, sympathize, and laugh to keep from crying with you. Someone you can swap stories of hardship with. Stories about sick kids, finessing bill money, craving alone time and the loser you wasted your rare alone time on. I enjoy getting together with my mom friends, opening a bottle of wine, and letting the kids run wild as we debrief about whatever our current crisis may be. Don’t get me wrong, the kids are louder than usual, but the disruptions in the adult conversation become minimal. Plus, kids need social time, too. If you stay long enough, the kids run themselves sleepy. Oh what joy!
A few mom friends and I have been able to get our Single Mom’s Club on. Our most recent gathering was a friendsgiving. We’ve also made a trip to the tattoo parlor to get nose piercings. We carpool, take the kids on outings, have Halloween parties, and share resources. Sometimes we sit on the phone with one another while we clean our kitchens, or drive across state lines to sit with each other while we clear off the dining room table that we haven’t seen in months. We share quick recipes, techniques we’ve used to get our kids asleep and eat their vegetables. My all time favorite thing we do is hire a babysitter to watch the whole bunch of munchkins while we do whatever we want! Including, but not limited to, napping, eating all the snacks, or a night out on the town! Even if we aren’t able to babysit or lead the carpool, we’re able to say “I’ve been there and you’re going to get through this.” Sometimes that’s more than enough.
- To help you learn the ropes of motherhood.
I say this all the time, but there’s no manual for parenting. However, when you have mom friends, you get a buyer’s guide of sorts to motherhood. Everyone has their own style. I was one of those overprotective-don’t-feed-my-baby-real-food types of mothers. All the while, my son was snatching food off of everyone’s plates. As they smiled with glee, I was fuming inside. That is until my best friend told me that her mom told her to “let that baby feed herself”, so she gave her daughter some green beans. And what do ya know? The baby didn’t explode, well, the diaper did. Nonetheless, I followed suit and my son enjoyed both playing in and devouring his spaghetti. I enjoyed eating my food while he fed himself versus waiting until he went to bed!
Mom friends give you life hacks for motherhood. For example, if I was your mom friend I’d tell you to ditch the wipe warmer, the bottle warmer, and keep it old school. First of all, a cold wipe never hurt us. Second of all, the baby could be drinking a bottle and half way back to sleep in the time it takes you to get up, plug up the bottle warmer, put the water in it, press it button for the 45 second warm up, and the untimely cooldown. Instead, I’d encourage you to breastfeed if you can. If you can’t, I’d tell you to prep bottles the night before so that all you have to do is hit that 30 second button on the microwave. I’d also tell you to get a pack ‘n‘ play first, then a crib. I’d tell you to opt for someone reading a story on youtube instead of Cocomelon because the stimulation is overwhelming and your child will always need entertainment moving forward. See? Life hacks!
- To remind you that you don’t have to be perfect.
Motherhood entails a lot. Attempting to raise kids with minimal trauma is a lot. Not to mention, we’re dealing with our own demons too. While you’re keeping kids healthy (mentally and physically), making sure everyone is fed, educated, social, scheduling haircuts, remembering nap blankets, creating positive memories and teaching life lessons, you’re bound to forget something. Some days you may not feel like playing. Some days you don’t have the sanity for patience . If you’re anything like me, when you start to feel this way you’ll go down a rabbit hole of “bad mom” thoughts. My mom friends remind me that off days happen A LOT. And that’s okay! They remind me that I’m not the only mother who forgot about the parent teacher conference or the only one who spazzed out on her kids that day. Then we swap stories about forgetting backpacks, rebrushing ponytails as we run out the door, and laugh until our stomachs hurt at our shit show lives. Mom friends give you grace because they know all too well the mishaps of motherhood.
- To let you know that your kids aren’t little weirdos.
Listen, kids are weird. Period. They eat dirt, sleep walk (if they sleep at all, and then sleep deprivation makes them act even more weird), spit out delicious food, poop on the floor, jump on you without a moment’s notice, blurt out your personal business when no one is asking. They touch themselves, pull at their genitals, yell the word “booty” and laugh (these kid tv shows aren’t any help)! They opt for defiance when you’re being as reasonable as you can. They act out when they’re upset or uncomfortable. And a bunch of other weird stuff! All of this is completely normal, but sometimes you don’t know that. There’s nothing like the sweet relief that comes from a mom friend saying “your kid does that too?!” On the off chance that your friend doesn’t respond in that way, you’ll know that you may need to seek help for your child. And when you do, your mom friend will be right there checking on you along the way.
- To Inspire you.
Birds of a feather flock together and it’s easy to get complacent in motherhood. Along with that, mothering requires so much energy that if you aren’t already where you want to be in life, attempting to get “there” can feel impossible once you have children. How can you save money, or build your credit when you’re barely making enough to get by? How can you register for classes when you can hardly afford child care, let alone another sitter for week nights? How can you find time for extracurriculars when you’re barely making it out of the door on time in the mornings? How can you leave that man child when he sometimes helps out in a clutch? How can you plan activities for the kids and still have time for yourself? These are all questions that I’ve asked myself because I saw my mom friends making it happen. Because they did it, I knew it could be done.
My mom friends are getting approved for home loans, increasing their paychecks with new certifications, sports moms, getting doctorates. They give me tips on saving money, help me keep up with the little league sign up windows, remind me that the library is free and fun when I don’t have money for entertainment. So, don’t ask yourself if it can be done, ask yourself what you want. Then ask yourself what your friends are doing. I’ll even take it a step further. What’s their energy like? Are they positive or negative thinkers? What do they do with their free time? Evaluating your friend group can be vital for your livelihood. Not only yours, but your children’s too.
Bonus Reason: Your kids get to befriend children whose parents have similar values. A while ago I heard someone say “you can’t let your kids play with everyone because you don’t know what other kids have been exposed to”. This is a harsh truth of parenting. We can’t control everything, especially another child’s experiences and how they’ll affect your children. Children in today’s society are exposed to way too much way too soon. If you’re raising your children in a friend group with like-minded parents, one can presume that they have like-minded values as well. At the very least, you know they have values you can tolerate. And if you can tolerate them, they aren’t detrimental to your child, just a variant from your own values. Your child will learn to be more open minded, they’ll learn about topics that you haven’t the slightest clue about. There’s nothing more peaceful than sending your child to a friend’s home who has parents whom you already know and whom your children can learn from.
If you don’t have mom friends, start thinking about how you can create your own village. This is something I had to do, so my advice is to start with prayer. I pray for discernment and for God to send genuine people into our lives who will love and support us with compassion. And let me tell you, I’ve seen God work, honey! I’ve created amazing relationships. I’ve had moms donate uniforms when I waited until the last minute to order online. I‘ve had a daycare teacher watch my babies while I was in class during grad school. A former supervisor’s daughters always came though in a clutch on those unpredictable sick days. A friend of a friend who was from my home town just so happened to live in Indy, she became a dear friend and my go-to babysitter. These kind women are all mothers. Without them, I honestly don’t know if I would be where I am today. Because of their help, I was also able to explore opportunities for advancement. I was able to breathe!
After you pray, start sticking around your child’s school or daycare a little longer. See if you can find some straggling parents who have children in the same class as yours. Pay attention to who your child is friends with, a playdate could lead to a new mom friendship. Volunteer to go on a fieldtrip and while you’re there strike up a conversation with another parent. I’ve even had a friend use an app to find mom friends! And we can’t forget the thousands of facebook groups. Basically, anywhere you are with parents and kids, get social baby girl. And don’t forget the prayer! Motherhood brings you joy, but you haven’t lived until you’re cracking jokes with mom friends about the ridiculous things you’ve seen your children do. What’s even better? Discussing growth in you, your child, and your mom friends for years to come.
One last thing. Motherhood is so much more than raising kids. If you let it, it can be about building stronger families and better communities. Better communities lead to better resources and networks for our children who are the future leaders of this country. While you’re out there building your village, I encourage you to consider community. I encourage you to put your best forward and pay it forward. Be the type of mom friend you need. Sometimes it requires feeding another mouth, using more gas, clothing another child, teaching another life lesson, opening up the child’s eyes to something positive that they aren’t being exposed to at home. Are you ready for that? Do you need that? Can you be that? If so, I bet there’s a mom out there right now waiting on you to say “hi.” Be that mom, be a friend.