Friendship and Motherhood
With Mother’s Day approaching, we pause to reflect upon the impact of motherhood on friendship.
Mother's Day celebrates motherhood—as well as children, flowers, candy, and greeting cards. But there's a downside to everything—and motherhood can be a real friendship killer.
Eight Challenges of Being A Mother
Motherhood can challenge female friendships for a variety of reasons:
You are a mother, and your BFF, isn't one but wants to be one. Her fertility problems are making her extremely frustrated, depressed, and angry at you.
Your BFF is a merry mother of six and you have no desire even to be a mother of one. When you're together, she never stops talking about her brood.
You and your BFF both have children, but they’re at different ages or stages. (And one of hers is a bratty biter!)
You and your BFF have vastly different views on child-rearing. You're permissive and believe in letting kids be kids. She believes in turning children into mini adults.
Your children and/or spouse don't get along with your BFF's children and/or spouse. When her son punched yours in the nose, her husband claimed your son provoked him.
On a practical level, all other things being equal, you have less discretionary time—aka “me time”—for friendships than most other women: high-school or college-age women, married women without children, and older women. With all your responsibilities, you barely have time to shower.
You are a “martyr-mother:”—one who places the needs of your children and family above your own social and personal needs.
You have fewer opportunities to meet new friends than you did when you were younger and more carefree—you only go to noisy, active places with children, where it's hard to have heart-to-heart conversations.
At different times during our lives, there are predictable shifts in the number and nature of our female friendships.
In college, while living in a dorm, you may have been surrounded by a circle of close female friends. Conversely, motherhood tends to be one of those times in life when many mothers spend so much time juggling their multiple roles as daughters, wives, workers, and caregivers. As a result, they wake up one morning, feeling alone, and suddenly realize they’ve neglected their friendships.
They think: If only there were someone whom I could call—or have coffee with—who could be there to listen and understand, I would feel less stressed.
Having a friend say, “I know just how you feel,” or “You’re not over-reacting,” can act as a balm to soothe the soul.
This Mother's Day, give yourself a simple gift that no one else would ever think of, one that can’t be purchased or wrapped—a gift to yourself:
Make an appointment on your calendar to have lunch with a friend, or plan a girl's night out.
Let go of the guilt and the voice in your head that tells you that you don’t have the time. And don’t let anything get in the way!
It's imperative: the equivalent of putting on your own oxygen mask first on a plane.
Taking small steps to build female friendships will not only enhance your physical and emotional well-being, but will also make you a better mother.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Irene & Sheryl
Motherhood creates challenges for female relationships. But even mothers need to make time for friendships.
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Wonderful post.. unfortunately, the word “selfish” has had a negative connotation when actually we (especially mothers/grandmothers) need to prioritize “self-care” in order to fully embrace motherhood. It’s our birthright to take care of ourselves in order to fully give to others. Such an important topic. Thank you!!
Great post, excellent points. Friendship is especially important when we're raising families. It's easy to get caught up in our kids' lives and neglect our friendships. Your advice also applies to grandmothers. I've seen several of my friends get so caught up in helping with their grandkids that they put friendship on the back burner too.