Now That I Am A Mother, What Happened To My Friends?!

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:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/24/social-isolation-for-stay-at-home-mothers/

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.

Many blessings,

Carrie

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10 thoughts on “Now That I Am A Mother, What Happened To My Friends?!

  1. This post is timely for me. I have found it very hard to keep a support network in my small town now that I have been homeschooling for a year. No other homeschoolers to connect with, and friends all moved into a different stage of life. It is really bringing me down and I am very worried about the next 20 years of being at home with my kids in a way that is so very different from everyone I know. Having support from real people is really so important.

  2. Thank you for this post! As always, you always seem to hit on just the right topics! You blog is like a friend with excellent advice for me! I always feel better and more positive when I read your posts. God bless you!

    I’ve found it difficult to make mommy friends because of the attachment parenting style we use to raise our children. Most oft old friends think we are crazy. I’ve met very nice moms thru la Leche league. And I just started my own local chapter of attachment parenting. I also am not shy about going up to moms at the park or mall to see if we have anything I’m common. Sometimes it just takes us to make the first step!

  3. i am the first from our friends to have children and really it doesnt seem they will have any in the very near future. Although lately i feel more adjusted to this idea i still see a wide gap. Been trying to widen my friendships with mothers now but admit to no success thus far so you guys from the net are my support right now!

  4. Carrie,

    First off, I love your blog and love reading your insights and wisdom. My children are only 1 and 2 and I love reading what more experienced, like-minded mamas have to say.
    As for friendships I totally agree. It is very hard to maintain friendships with other mothers, let alone single friends. I have found that there are different spheres of friends; Primary, secondary, and tertiary. Your primary friends are the ones with whom you have a solid friendship; you may see them for coffee or play dates with your children once a week or more, time together usually includes the children, but sometimes on a girls’ night, you are able to engage in adult conversation, you may chat on the phone or text or facebook to keep up. Secondary friends are the ones who you may facebook with or see once a month, they may or may not have children, but probably do and are just so busy with activities they don’t have a lot of time. Tertiary friends are the ones who probably used to be primary or secondary until you had children and now you rarely hear from them and even less often see them and when you do you find there isn’t a lot to talk about. I have found that even after becoming a mom these spheres have shifted as my mothering philosophy has changed. It is sometimes difficult to keep friendships when you don’t allow battery operated, blinking, singing toys or television/video games. I find that even if I am not judging moms who allow these things, they get very defensive when talking about how much little Billy loves to watch Thomas or little Suzi is learning Spanish from Dora and I mention that our children don’t watch tv.
    I also think it is very important for new moms to find a support system before the baby comes. Maybe in a breastfeeding class at the hospital or a mom’s group at church. Your husband is not your girlfriend and doesn’t want to be; sometimes we get so lonely at home with the baby all day that when our husband comes home we bombard them with all of the information on every thing the baby did that day and really, they are so over-processed from working all day they can’t really deal with all that. I am generalizing and yes, there are some men who are the exception.
    The best friends I have I have made from the parent/child class at our local Waldorf school initiative. They are like-minded and we see them once a week at class. I think it is important for moms to seek out this kind of companionship in places of interest to them and there will be others with the same interests and children the same age.
    Done rambling, keep up the great work, sounds like you are giving your lils a magical childhood that ALL children deserve!

  5. Great post, Carrie. I find that my friends are as important to have for support as my family is.

    Your perspective is a wise one: looking at the long term, then acknowledging and appreciating that these early years of our children’s lives can be difficult times to connect with friends, but they are a passing part of the whole.

    I think you give the best advice when you suggest widening your circle of friends and taking the time to connect with any of your friends, even if its just a short phone call. Both of these actions have created a large circle of support for me.

    I have been friends with a few women since high school and we have moved in and out of being close, but continued to keep contact with each other. We are all now mothers of young children and have come together, once again, in the last couple years to spend more time together. Keeping contact really paid off.

    Also, as my parenting style came to fruition I found it very beneficial to branch out to the larger community- attachment parenting groups and now homeschool groups- to find friends with the same values and parenting style as mine.

    Lastly, I think it is important to acknowledge and let go of friendships that just don’t work out anymore. There have been several friendships along the way that have come and gone because they were friendships with people who didn’t have children or didn’t have the same values as mine. Either I didn’t feel a very close connection anymore or the relationship demanded more energy than I could give it. It’s important to let those kinds of relationships go. The ones that are true friends have stuck around, appreciating the short (and infrequent) visits we do have.

    Thanks, again, for a great post!

  6. Thank you for the reminder. My insistent prayers of the past two years for a home of our own and a sibling for our only daughter have been answered. I’ve turned my prayers to a friend. A family of friends for us- that share our parenting beliefs and our spiritual beliefs. And maybe also, an older, BTDT family to mentor us.

  7. I’m about to make a list of the things I want in a friend b/c I definitely need some close female companionship! Thanks again, Carrie.

  8. My closest friend lives an hour away. Around here we struggle to find adults who like being around their spouse much less being with their children or wearing a child. Most people still spank, use TV as a sitter, and ignore their children. I’ve been accused of being a militia and stockpiling weapons because we’re vegan ( I found that one hard to not bust out laughing in her face.) to abusing my children because they were breastfeed past the decent age of 6 months to holy cow! around 2 years. Throw in organic, slings, soft sole shoes, homeschooling with Montessori and Waldorf, Attachment Parenting, herbs and essential oils…well…it’s frightening to so many around here. I’ve stopped trying after years of newspaper ads (yeah…that desperate! ;) ), groups, and walking up to mommas and daddys.

    What are we doing to fix the lack of friend support? We’re moving! After years we’re finally getting closer and closer. Even though we’ve been outbid 5 times on a house I know it’ll happen soon and it’ll be perfect. But while we work toward physical support I’ve made ‘web’ friends and I find I have grown to care for many women I have never hugged. :) I’ve found more in common with my web friends than those that are a lot closer. No one else homeschools or if they do it’s all about some commercial curriculium and state standards instead of my child’s spark and continued love of learning and self.

    Honey
    http://www.mondorfment.blogspot.com

    Honey

  9. For mothers looking for other Christian women to fellowship with, I highly recommend joining a MOPS group if there is one nearby. MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. You do not need to be Christian to join. Very supportive of mothers and work to encourage women to make nurturing friendships.

  10. I find it so amazing that the times I check in on your blog, the issues you are discussing are so completely relevant! I am writing this while holding my 3 week old third child and the others are sleeping in bed. Today has been my first day of the baby blues…wondering where my friends, and family, have disappeared to. We live within 5 minutes of my mother-in-law who is a wonderful woman but very uninterested in our family. She hasn’t visited in over 2 weeks. My sister, the same. And friends are so very busy with their own families. We live rurally and it is necessary to drive nearly everywhere…the beach, the store, the gas station, the park. However, I have found a wonderful on-line community of like-minded mamas which has circled me back to a few women in my community on a similar path. I am just starting to find a new rhythm for my children and me, and have tried to refocus on my priorities…my family. It can be a very lonely time, particularly because my husband spends most of the winter working in the mountains, so I just have to focus and move forward. I have found the Lifeways books helpful for their discussions and essays on mothering and parenting with young children. I want to look into a discussion group for Steiner philosophy, either on-line or at the nearest Waldorf school (an hour away).
    Thank you so very much for your wise words that always, always, seem to encourage me at those moments when I truly need encouragement.
    xo

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