My best friend from high school, Taylor, was in town from Chicago this week and stopped by for dinner tonight. It has been a couple of years since the girls have seen her, but I think they sensed that she is very special to mama because they were especially attentive and cuddly with her.
I could tell that Taylor was so glad to see me again and spend some time with me, even if we were surrounded by squealing girls who decided to have a wrestling match right in between us on the couch. It was a good feeling, having someone outside our little family being genuinely glad to see me. I hear over and over again from women that their husbands are their best friends. I have never felt that way about my husband. He and I are one flesh, united together by the holy sacrament of matrimony for the duration of our lives. He is so much more than my best friend, I cannot even bring myself to categorize him as such. However, it was unexpectedly invaluable to me to have some girl time. It is also refreshing to have a fellow mama to relate to (she has a son of her own).
Having friendships these days is difficult. My Abuela still has dear friends from her grade school days. From when she was in an entirely different country! Alas, I retained no good friends from grade school, and all of my dear high school, college, and law school friends have either moved far away or don’t have children and probably feel like talking to me now is like talking to an alien from another planet. Not to mention the difficulties inherent in dealing with working schedules vs. SAHM schedules. I just didn’t realize how much I missed hanging out with my best friend until today. I know that sounds weird, but things have been too hectic for me to realize it.
I have had several forays with becoming friends with other moms of small children, but I have had some rotten luck with the ones I was closest to having to move away. (Miss you Sara , Julia , and Christy!!) Becoming friends with fellow moms just seems so much more stressful than it was during my school days. To give you a feel for it, I will describe the typical life cycle of a potential mom friendship for me. It goes a little something like this:
You figure out that you are both moms with similarly aged children.
You arrange a play date.
You meet for said play date (and I usually mess this step up already by being horribly late because I’m usually pregnant and juggling several babes).
You chase your kids around and fail to find a moment to have an actual conversation. Your toddlers completely ignore each other and your babies try to poke each other’s eyes out. Sometimes, if it is going really badly, your children get along about as well as the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Lots of embarrassment ensues as you try to figure out if it would be less awkward to discipline your catfighting toddler in front of everyone, ignore it until someone’s hair gets pulled, or just leave in shame.
You try to arrange another play date months later when you have another free moment, but it never works out.
You figure either you or your kids doomed this friendship from the start. If you had to guess, it would probably be you. Because your children are just so darn likeable! Right? Right. I don’t know. Perhaps my mom friend technique is inherently flawed or other moms just find our adherence to the Catholic approach toward child bearing unsettling. I have had fellow moms in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office that I had struck up a casual conversation with move to different seats further away from me when I innocently revealed to them the number of children I have and their ages. As if my rebellion from the 2-3 children with appropriate boy/girl ratios status quo was contagious. I kid you not. I think the mom with the toddler hacking up a lung had more people sitting close to her by the time I finished up by saying I was pregnant again with number four. It was a very lonely time in the waiting room for me after that.
This blogging community (as well as Instagram) has proven invaluable to me because I have found so many mamas that have become my bosom friends. I don’t know what I would do without this outlet and their support and encouragement. I wish I could just teleport and visit them all at will!
There are too many factors at play when you are a mom of littles to make forming friendships as easy as it was when you were younger. Your schedules revolve around meal times, nap times, activities, and appointments. A free moment for a prolonged conversation is hard to find. And when you do have a free moment, all you want to do is tackle your endless to-do list or collapse into bed. I suspect that this is the case whether you are a parent or have a busy career (or both!), so perhaps this is an adult problem rather than just a mom problem? And anyway, you no longer have just yourself to worry about, it would really help if your spouses and especially your children got along.
When I walked Taylor to the door to tell her goodbye, I was keenly aware of how much I was going to miss her. A good friendship is so hard to find. I visit my Abuela weekly, and inevitably while I am there one of her friends will call and they will chat and laugh for an hour or so. She had five children, each about a year or less apart. What is my excuse? I really need to make time to foster the friendships I know are good ones. We all could use some more love and support in our lives, especially when we are busy young mothers.
Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious. -St. Thomas Aquinas
Taking the girls to buy a king cake to celebrate Mardi Gras with Taylor. We are obviously new at this king cake business and were displeased to find that the baby is not actually baked into most cakes any more. Presumably for liability reasons. I suppose I should be more glad that we didn’t spend the evening fishing a tiny plastic baby out of a toddler’s throat.