A few years back, Randi Zuckerberg – yes, sister of that guy who started that book-face thing – was widely credited for identifying the entrepreneurs’ dilemma. She declared that out of five things; work, sleep, family, fitness or friends you can only nurture three with any measure of success. As an entrepreneur, I completely agree. But now having birthed a tiny human, I also say substitute the words new mom for entrepreneur and you find yourself in the same conundrum (and what about us entrepreneur-moms? Do we have a double dilemma? Do we only get to pick two out of the five because we have to pick work to keep our businesses from failing…but I’m getting off track.) My point is that when it comes to motherhood something else in your life tends to give. Sadly, friendship is the primary thing that has fallen by the wayside in my world, but I know I’m not the only one. Friendship often falters for many new moms. That’s why, for this edition of Real Talk, Real Moms, we decided to give voice to this challenge.
Now, before having kids I swore up and down that I wouldn’t be one of those moms who never sees her friends. Swore. But I am the first to admit I am a horrible friend. Terrible. Just the worst. Seriously.
I don’t return calls. I barely remember to answer texts. In my world, a heart on Instagram has become as good as a catch-up sesh. And making a new friend?! Forget it. It’s damn hard to make friends in your 30s under the best of circumstances. The New York Times has devoted multiple pieces to the never-ending challenge – probably because a lot of its writers are in their 30s right now. As one article explains, “the period for making B.F.F.’s, the way you did in your teens or early 20s, is pretty much over. It’s time to resign yourself to situational friends: K.O.F.’s (kind of friends) — for now.” Too true. There was certainly little time for any BS before kids. And now? No way.
In fact, making new friends is so challenging, this New York Magazine piece talks about how you should court friends like you would a romantic relationship. But that probably requires staying up past 9pm. Or getting dressed most days of the week. Or managing to leave your house (most definitely an entrepreneurial mom problem). Now don’t get me wrong, I do consider my circle of “friends” to be quite large. I belong to a moms Facebook group that has over 500 women in it. I do make it to the occasional social event and exchange air kisses and pleasantries with the best of them. But when I experienced a soul crushing death in the family did I reach out to any of them for help – or did they reach out to me? Nope. If I had an emergency and needed someone to watch my kid would I feel comfortable calling one up? Don’t think so. Do I even have any of their numbers in my phone?! Even though most moms know tons of other moms and many of us participate in moms groups those moments of connection are fleeting – interrupted by spit-up, a diaper explosion or a melt down. It can end up feeling like you’re stranded on your own tiny island.
This situation is tough. It feels pathetic. It’s depressing. It’s actually probably bad for my health. In fact, article after article talks about how both self-worth and happiness are ultimately judged not by career success, accolades or money, but by friendships. I have started to feel really bad about my friendship gap. I feel terrible guilt for neglecting my good friends who I truly love and adore. I feel sad about not being able to cultivate new friends – real ones with actual bonds. I often feel lonely.
So this year, I decided I want to proactively do something about it. In fact, my intention for 2017 is to CONNECT (I talked more about that here). While it’s unlikely I’ll magically transform back to my social butterfly self anytime soon (I’m typically a puddle by 7pm these days), there are a few practical ways I’ve attempted to implement my intention thus far. They include:
– Schedule a lunch or coffee date with someone I enjoy and haven’t caught up with in awhile – and NOT cancel.
– Fire off a text to a friend whenever she happens to cross my mind.
– Write a physical note to a friend once a month.
– Reach out to someone I wish I was still connected to and simply let them know I still care – no expectations or strings attached.
And I do have grander friend-ambitions. I’d like to start a ladies who brunch club – just a casual way to bring friends together on a Sunday, with or sans kids, to just hang out and spend time together – during daylight hours. But I do have to finish this dang house first. Or at least get it to a point I’m no longer embarrassed by it. Oh and remember how to cook again. So baby steps it is. But I know that even as exhausted as I often feel, putting effort into friendships will ultimately refuel me – even if the effort is taxing at first. This article about being a terrible friend also recently lifted my spirits. It reminds us that the depths of early motherhood are temporary. Even fleeting. Kids grow super fast. The time when they need us constantly and want us desperately is very short indeed.
Someday, probably without even realizing it, you’ll wake up and realize you’re the old you again. So to my dear friends who might be reading this. Please do keep in touch. I promise I’m still here and still care. And hopefully will be me again soon.
Have you struggled with maintaining friendships as a mom? I’d love to hear how you navigated things. And of course, you must be sure to check out all the other mamas’ experiences. You can read about them by clicking the links below.
For our entire Real Talk, Real Moms archive CLICK HERE.