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I have been a mom for nearly four years now and I can honestly say I haven't settled into a really close-knit group of friends just yet. It isn't for lack of trying, either. I have joined book clubs and play groups. We are pretty involved in our church. I have introduced myself to random strangers in public. I have texted a new friend until I felt I had possibly crossed the line dividing friendly and stalkerish.
All of my effort has left me in a strange predicament. I have made a ton of casual friends. I know plenty of people I can invite to the zoo, just so long as we plan it a few weeks out. And I have wonderful women in my life who brought by meals after I gave birth. Still, I haven't gotten to a place with any of these friends where I feel comfortable calling them when I am dealing with a bought of depression or calling to chat simply because I have been at home with toddlers all day and I am craving an adult conversation.
I think most moms are kind of terrible friends and we can't help it.
So, what gives? Why is it so dang hard to make meaningful connections with other people who understand the ins and outs of my everyday life?
I used to be so frustrated when I wouldn't hear back for a week after sending a text or when I would play three days of phone tag just trying to nail down a time for a kid-free glass of wine with a friend. I would take it personally and throw in the towel on a friendship after too many failed attempts to connect or assume they wanted nothing to do with me or were annoyed by my persistent texts. Even my husband suggested that perhaps my expectations were too high. Maybe it wasn't possible to find a lady soulmate during this phase of my life.
Here's my theory: I think most moms are kind of terrible friends and we can't help it. Try as we might, even the most spectacular women can only do a few things really, really well. And with kids to raise, a romantic relationship to tend to, a career to juggle and housework to manage, being a kick-ass friend almost always gets pushed to the back burner.
I know this is true, because I do it all of the time. I have been the forgetful texter, the boring happy hour companion who is too tired to make conversation, and the last-minute canceler of set-in-stone plans. When faced with the choice between giving my sick or sleep-deprived toddler a restful day at home or dragging her to a pre-planned playdate, I will always cancel. With a deadline around the corner, I will always turn down an invitation for a spontaneous glass of wine. And if grandparents volunteer to babysit, you can bet I will be spending some much-needed time with my husband who probably hasn't seen me in anything but maternity yoga pants since our last night out.
I will always choose to be a bad friend over being a bad wife, mom or employee and I think this is true for most moms.
So what now? Do I give up on making a meaningful connection with a few close friends until I am sleeping through the night again or my kids move out? That seems like a really crappy deal and I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet, but I am also not sure how to move forward. For now, I am starting with trying to return your text in under 72 hours ... I just need to change a diaper and cook dinner first.