FINDING "MOM FRIENDS"
Happy holiday Monday (for Canadian readers anyway!). We had an awesome weekend full of fun, swimming, good food and better friends. It really got me thinking about this topic that I've wanted to write about for awhile. I gotta say that I'm happy to be getting around to tackling some topics that I've been wanting to write about for quite awhile. I mean, the whole point of starting this blog was to try and offer some content that felt real and relatable to the average woman or mom- it's all about embracing the imperfect. So with that, comes some stuff that isn't always going to be sunshine and rainbows. I've been giving this topic a lot of thought and trying to navigate how I feel about it because something just doesn't sit right. My thoughts are a little scattered but anyway- here goes.
I want to talk about the pressure I think moms feel about finding the elusive "mom friends" or "mom BFFs". You know, that ride or die clique of mom friends you see in the movies who parent just like you do, and come over with wine without you even having to say it. When I became a mom, there was so much pressure to settle into the role. Happy, glowing mom with a beautiful baby, and a super cute group of trendy friends to surround you at playgroups. You'd meet up for coffee, everyone in super cute outfits, pushing your strollers.... and then maybe you'd go to the grocery store together, or go for leisurely shopping days. I mean, sure, you'd be tired and everything- but damn I was pumped for all the cute things I was going to do when I became a mom.
Well.... turns out I call bullshit. On all of it. In reality, I think motherhood can actually be ssssooo isolating. Guys- it's lonely. The days are long. The nights are longer. And even with the support of a spouse, you're doing a lot of it by yourself. Not to mention the fact that you're really f***ing busy - you are being depended on for basic human needs at. all. times. So forging new friendships in the messy, hungry, unshowered, sleep deprived zombie state kind of feels as likely as asking a toddler to go put on their shoes and they do it the first time (pffffffft YEAH RIGHT).
I think we need to be really careful of what women see in terms of what the motherhood role has to look like- because the truth is, it's so so so different for everyone. What I imagined it would be (wine nights and lunch dates) and what it actually is (crying into a beer by 5pm) are polar opposite and sometimes, even if it's something that seems as simple as connecting with other moms, if it doesn't happen it can add to the feeling of failure. Don't get me wrong- I love the idea of finding friends who are also parents and I love the ones I have with all my heart. When you become a new parent, you're truly just begging for the companionship of someone else who you can relate to, and is going through the same thing you are. Someone that will just make you feel like you're normal again and tell you that you're not, in fact, f***ing it all up - because their kid eats out of the garbage sometimes too. There is DEFINITELY something to be said for that. All I'm saying is that sometimes , it just isn't the reality and the pressure for it to be can start to feel overwhelming - and even more isolating.
We all also know that it isn't easy getting out and meeting other parents to begin with. We've all been there. All packed up and ready to hit up the closest BestStart program, the spot where you are SURE you're going to meet your new mom BFF. Then, as you're walking out the door, your baby shits. And like, really goes for it. Up the back. All over the carseat. Sighhhh. So much for that. In my personal experience, I moved to where my husband was from, and even though it isn't far away from where I grew up, it's still away from where people I grew up or went to school with settled (plus, when you're in a super rural area like us, you have to drive forever to get anyyyywhere). I was also pretty early among most of my friends to get married and have kids. We're still close, which I'm really thankful for. But like I said before - there is absolutely something to be said for having people in your life that understand exactly what you're going through. I've been lucky enough to meet some really wonderful people in the new town I call home- but that's not to say it didn't come with struggles or feelings of loneliness along the way. It takes a bit to settle into things and find your place in the world when your life and surroundings change.
I also have to say as a side note that I think there is starting to be quite a bit of pushback when it comes to stuff like this. More and more women (and parents in general) are supporting the idea of community over competition. The idea that "it takes a village" and we're all apart of it. It's so easy to get caught up in the smiles you see on social media- but don't get it confused. They have all gone through tough, lonely shit, just like you have. We're in this parenting thing together. Whether you breastfed or formula-fed, whether you think your kids should play contact sports or not - the decisions are your own, and we all have value and companionship to offer regardless.
Here's the bottom line - I told you my thoughts were all over the place with this one, but I'm going to try and summarize. I think it is CRUCIAL to have people in your life that you can relate to, and that understand your ups, downs, and everything in between. My issue is the pressure people feel to have it. The pressure to fit into the mould. Maybe you see it on TV, or in movies- and all of the sudden there's this ideal in place that you need to live up to in order to be a normal, successful, integrated parent who will raise children to be normal, successful and integrated too. Moms, parents- give yourselves a break. There's enough pressure in parenthood as it is. If you haven't found your tribe yet.... relax. There are so many people around who are just as eager to want to reach out. Sometimes, it truly is just a case of having to put yourself out there. I'm now the president of the executive team at our town's local playschool. I was nervous to take it on but one of the many things I'm excited about is being able to start putting faces to names, and meeting new parents. Don't be discouraged if you feel a little rejected- even if they are parents too, they may not find the colour of your baby's shit as interesting as you do. Don't give up. Don't stop reaching out. You're not alone. And definitely don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone (hell, start a blog!!! LOL). Just give yourself a break and appreciate the people who are around you, and open yourself up to opportunities. More times than not, I think you'll be thankful you did.
Or you can talk to me - my daughter is obsessed with blueberries right now and I'd happily discuss the colour and consistency of her shit with you.