Many stay-at-home mothers are concerned about feeling socially isolated. I wrote about this awhile back, including some suggestions for how to handle it:
Interestingly, I think this issue comes up again and again in parenting. When we are the first person out of our friends to have a child, our priorities shift and we can’t do the same things we used to do with our childless friends. When we are the one out of our friends who have three, four or five children and our friends only have one child, they may not understand how truly hard it can be to get five bodies ready to get out of the house and that we really don’t have the same amount of time that we did when we only had one child. Activities that we may enjoy socially and that typically would renew us, such as going to a place of worship, may become difficult as we tend to the needs of our infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
I think we have to be patient. Part of this growth that occurs in parenting really does occur in learning to slow down and being patient with the long developmental arc of childhood. Part of this growth that occurs for us includes perhaps being able to step out of our pre-conceived box of “who should be our friend” and realize that we may have more in common with different mothers now than we did before. We may need to widen our circle of friends a bit in order to garner enough support instead of relying on only one or two women who are now insanely busy with their own families.
One thing that has been effective for me is to literally sit down and make a list of all the qualities I really wanted in a friend and to pray about it. If you don’t pray, perhaps you can consider this just putting it out to the Universe. I have a lovely group of friends now, all with different viewpoints and talents and skills. They really are helpful to me, and I am grateful every day for them and how they listen to my cares and concerns. In this day and age,when so many of us live far away from our families, the friends we choose often do become like family.
Every mother also deserves some good friends to really confide in and bounce things off of; every mother deserves some friends who will just listen and not be judgmental even if they don’t parent exactly the same way. Parenting is an area in which mothers can get extremely defensive; as if doing things differently implies that one is doing them incorrectly. Part of expanding your circle of friends includes expanding your ability to just listen, to be supportive and to not offer advice unless the person clearly asks for it.
Just as we prepare in our marriages for the day twenty years from now when we will be alone again with our husbands, let us also prepare our friendships for that day as well by making them as much of a priority as we can at this moment. It only takes a few moments to pick up the phone and say hello, or to email someone and say you are thinking of them.
I would love to hear your comments as to how you keep your adult friendships going or how they have changed with the advent of parenthood or adding children to your families.