by Heather Neal
It's Harder Than I Thought to Make Friends as a Mom was originally published on Babble.com and has been reprinted with permission.
Motherhood is a lot of things, but what I least expected it to be was lonely. When my son was first born, I naively thought I was joining some sort of exclusive and in-demand club. I’d finally be able to do all the things my mom-friends did with their little ones! It would be so much fun and such a team effort and a sweet nostalgic throwback to the days when villages really did raise kids.
And although I did join a club by becoming a mom, it’s not quite the one I thought it would be. In many ways it’s a thousand times better, but when it comes to the loneliness factor, I was totally thrown off guard. Here I am, with a built-in constant companion by my side for the first time in my life and I’m the most alone I’ve ever been.
So here’s my dirty little mom secret: when I tell you I’m trying really hard to find similarly aged friends for my son to play and socialize with, I really mean so I can hang out with said new friend’s mom. Or dad. Or babysitter.
It’s extremely true that I want my son to have friends his own age. Watching tiny humans play and interact is by far one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen (aside from the inevitable tussles over a dually wanted toy or he-said she-said argument). Another child can provide a kind of interaction and learning and socialization that I as his mom cannot.
But I also not-so-secretly mean I too want a friend out of the deal. It doesn’t even need to be a friend-friend most of the time, even someone over the age of 10 that can hold a conversation that has nothing to do with needing a snack or a potty break will suffice.
Most days I’m perfectly fine talking to no other adults, but some days I worry I will lose my entire grownup vocabulary, my ability to hold a conversation for more than three minutes, or on the worst days, my sanity as a whole.
There are weeks where my husband is my sole source of non-child interaction, and it’s not unusual for that to translate to three minutes on the phone over the course of a week as he travels frequently for work. (You should probably feel sorry for the onslaught of random thoughts I dump on him the minute he’s actually in the same room as me.)
It’s not that I don’t have friends of my own, but as a mom your day and week and life revolve around the needs and schedule of the tiny being in your care, not necessarily an adult social agenda. It’s great if your schedule meshes up with another mom’s — it’s like striking parenting gold, rare but not unheard of.
Since there’s no online-dating-like site for moms making normal, non-creepy friends, using my son as an icebreaker will have to do. So seriously, when I’m begging you for a play date, please take pity on me and say yes, even if your kid has more friends that he can remember names. Or better yet, skip the play date and just invite me over for a glass of wine after kiddie bedtime.
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