Isn’t it funny how our idea of friendship changes the older we get?
I remember my first best friend. For us, a good time meant making up dance routines to New Kids on the Block and finding ways to sneak junk food out of her mom's after-school snack drawer.
Then there was my group of best friends in junior high. We were inseparable through the slumber parties, after school clubs, dances and boys. It was the stuff friendships were made of—well, except for the many, many times we swapped boyfriends, got into fights, gave each other the silent treatment and took turns being the outcast. Ahhh, memories.
My high school best friend and I used to sneak peppermint schnapps out of her mom's pantry. And when we got grounded for telling our parents we were sleeping at each other’s houses, instead going camping with a group of boys we liked, we spent our time writing each other epic notes. I kept those notes in a bag stashed away in my room for years.
In college, my best friends and I were all about the party: where to go, who to see, what to drink. We had some amazing times and nursed some brutal hangovers.
But now that I’m a mom? My idea of a good friend is someone who understands that I couldn’t possibly be less interested in one of those crazy nights out.
An ideal mom friend gets that I crave adult time and will bend over backwards to make plans. But she also gets that I might cancel those plans at the last minute because my kid is sick or I’m exhausted and I literally just can’t. She doesn’t get upset about those cancellations, because she knows I understand when she sometimes has to do the same.
The friends I adore today bring each other coffee when someone has had a new baby, is in the midst of moving into a new home, or is currently going through this terrible and ongoing bedtime fight with her toddler. Heck, the friends I love the most are the ones who take turns leaving a little early for the play date to get coffee for all the moms who will be there.
We manage to get away for a moms' night out every few months or so. And when we do, we usually skip the bar and instead head to a quiet restaurant where we can enjoy a few bottles of wine and three hours of eating and talking uninterrupted, with no little butts or noses to wipe.
The kind of friends I look for today are the women who may make completely different parenting choices from me, but who still nod in support and raise a fist in solidarity. Because, you do you, Mama. No judgment here.
Speaking of judgment, a good mom friend will never judge your messy home. In fact, she's the one you would have no qualms about inviting into that messy home. Because you know she gets it, so you're simply not ashamed.
They're the ones who you can go weeks without seeing or talking to, only to pick up right where you last left off.
These are the friends who find ways to spend time with you, even if getting a babysitter is a luxury you can't make happen all that often. They plan BBQ nights, where all the families get together and the kids run around outside. It’s loud and chaotic, but it’s also so worth it because your kids are running off energy without needing your constant attention, you're soaking up these rare moments of being together and you might even get to have 30 seconds of uninterrupted adult conversation.
The friends I look for these days are loyal and low-drama. Because ain’t no mama got time for gossip and backstabbing. They’ll call me on my shit because a good friend always does. But they’ll do it in a way that’s actually helpful, supportive and comes from a place of love.
These are the friends you can call on those nights when you don’t feel like a great mom. Maybe you fought with your kid, you yelled when you shouldn’t have, and you’re tired and frustrated and afraid you’re not cut out for any of this at all.
They’ll let you vent. And then they’ll remind you what an amazing mother you truly are. Because this was just a bad night. Or a bad weekend. Or a bad week. It doesn’t matter, because we all have those moments. It’s not who you are as a mother. Your friends not only get that, but they're capable of helping you see it too.
They makes things easier, not harder. They're the ones who you can go weeks without seeing or talking to, only to pick up right where you last left off—assuming the kids will let you. They recognize that these years are fleeting, but so damn hard, so we do what we can to hold each other up.
When you find these friends, you hold onto them and hold on tight. You set up meal trains when one of their parents dies and arrange doorstep supply dropoffs when they have a sick kid and can’t get out to do the shopping themselves. You offer to take their kids when they are in desperate need of a night out with their partner, knowing that in a heartbeat they would happily do the same for you.
In a few years time, the kids will be grown and want nothing to do with any of us. Maybe then we’ll all jet off on some magical girls' trip on a beach and have drinks with little umbrellas. We'll be able to sleep in as late as we want. But in the meantime, we're waist-deep in sleepless nights and dirty diapers. And it’s OK. Because we have each other to vent and cry and laugh about it all with.
That is what a good mom friend is all about.