When I was 11 years old, the girl in front of me passed her math test for me to correct and we instantly became friends. Inseparable, really. Two years ago, I gave a speech to a roomful of people as her maid of honor.
She was the constant in my life. Through new relationships and breakups, and other friendships that came and went, she was there. For 20 years, she was that one stable thing in my life above anything else; we made true friendship look easy.
The first time I really had to work at a relationship was when my husband and I were dating. It took work, and it was hard to balance two separate schedules while still trying to navigate life as one couple.
I was a bit late to motherhood in my group of friends and suddenly I realized that my one constant, my friendship with my best friend of 20 years, wasn’t the same as the moms I met in the play groups and classes. These relationships were so much harder to keep—and I couldn’t understand why.
I realized later on that these friendships I was trying to maintain couldn’t be treated like the friendship I have with my childhood pal. I knew that my husband and I had to work hard at our marriage, but it never occurred to me that I needed to treat my mom friends the same way—that I had to work at my friendships, as well.
In this season of little sleep, too many dirty diapers and messy-hair-don’t-care days, life is so much better with those friends at your side.
Moms are busy trying to manage the complete care of other little humans. The distractions of motherhood are different from the day-to-day grind of work and home life before kids. And, sometimes, it would take three days to return a text message because the friend I wanted to get that Pinterest recipe from was busy, just like I was.
There are many times that it’s me initiating the friendship. It’s my invite out, it’s me asking how she’s doing. I know one of us needs to be the one to contact the other or the friendship will end up fizzling. So, I’m happy to do it. The friends I had before kids used to be spontaneous, asking me out for appetizers and wine at 8 at night, and had relatively wide-open calendars. My get-togethers with my mom friends sometimes needed the careful planning of one undertaking a six-month backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail.
The unique thing about mom friends is that their lives are so multifaceted because there are husbands and kids to consider. Evenings and weekends are coveted family times, which doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room to maintain friends. The thing is, though, when you find good friends—the ones who maintain your sanity when your toddler refuses to potty train and enrich your lives beyond breastfeeding and organizing the toy bin—you don’t want to let them go.
Keeping those friendships with the other moms in your life takes a lot of work. There will be seasons when it’s one of you pulling the weight for two. And sometimes those friends have to be put on hold during marriage struggles and family illnesses and the general chaos of parenting. But that’s OK. Because in this season of little sleep, too many dirty diapers and messy-hair-don’t-care days, life is so much better with those friends at your side.
Even if it’s been three days since that forgotten text message.
Diapers and day care and drama, oh my. There is a lot to think about at every stage of parenthood, and while you may rely on your partner to help shoulder the burden, sometimes you just need someone who can relate. That’s why “mommy friends” are so important, says parenting expert Leslie Morgan Steiner, who wrote the book Mommy Wars: Stay-At-Home and Career Moms Face off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families. “You can’t do motherhood alone,” she says. “Other mothers are the only people who really understand what you’re going through.” And while it might seem intimidating, making mommy friends can be easier than you think. Here’s how!