There comes a time in the life of many a new mom, when she looks around and says, "You know what? I think I need a Mom Squad. I mean, why shouldn't it work? I'm friendly! I'm cool! It's not like I don't know how to make friends!" And so, with hope in her heart and a determined glint in her eye, she begins her plan to join local mom groups on social media, attend Mommy & Me classes, and go to the playground. About two weeks into it, she'll inevitably conclude, "Well damn, making mom friends is harder than making high school friends."
Considering about 56% of the adult female population are mothers, it's rather dumbfounding that it's so hard to make mom friends. Honestly, it seems statistically impossible. We should all be tripping over our mom friends, but that's just not how it works. Now, do you have to make mom friends? Absolutely not. It's not a requirement for one's social life or standing. Most of my friends, for example (in fact the vast majority) are not parents and I like it that way.
That being said, there are lots of good reasons to seek out a Mom Squad once you have children. Moms can relate to other moms on subjects that would bore many child-free friends to tears (or would just sound like shallow whining). They're great to have by your side during boring school meetings or dull sporting practices. Mom friends are also wonderful cross-references to gain and confirm knowledge. Like, "Hey, my kid has mucus-y poop. What does that mean?" or "Thinking of having daughter's birthday at Party Palace: have you been there? Is it good?" Think of them as a personalized Siri who always understands you. So, when you find good mom friends it's awesome but honey, good lucky until then, because it's hard. So hard, in fact, it can make you long for your high school days and, seriously, that never happens.
There's No Central Meeting Place
When you're in high school, it's like, "Here, come to this building where you will be amid hundreds to thousands of your peers every single day participating in any number of classes and/or specifically chosen extracurricular activities." It's basically a guaranteed way to make friends. If one friend or group of friends doesn't work, you just move on to another. Even if you think everyone in your school is a complete douchebag, eventually and once you're in school long enough, you've probably even built up a kind of network that extends beyond the walls of your high school.
(Okay, sure there are some people who completed their high school experience without making a single friend, but those people are fewer and farther between than reported, because I promise that most people who said they had "no friends" in high school did, in fact, have at least one or two.)
There's No One To Facilitate Meetings
Whether you made your high school friends at school, on a team, at camp, at a job, or somewhere in between, chances are pretty good you had someone to whom you reported: a teacher, coach, counselor, or boss who managed your time and activities, facilitated conversations or cooperation between you and your peers. Even when that person wasn't actively trying to get you to communicate positively with your potential friends, they at the very least supplied you and those peers with something in common, often in the form of complaining about them. Never underestimate the power of a common "enemy."
You're Busy As Hell
Seriously, even for those of us who were busy in high school; what the hell were we even doing? We were on teams, in clubs, in class, at study groups and even our busy times were social activities in some capacity. Still, time just seems to be this limitless natural resource. For real: by my junior year I went to school taking honors and AP classes, did theater, worked a 20-hour a week job, and volunteered at a nursing home and I still had so much free time. I mean, most of us? WTF did we even do in high school? Freshman through sophomore years were mostly spent on the phone or watching movies in my friend Katy's basement (#coolkids #squadgoals).
As a parent? Even when you're not "busy," you're busy. Keeping kids alive is in and of itself a full-time job, and on top of that you have a house to maintain, potentially a romantic relationship to maintain, possibly another job outside of your "job" as a mother, and, of course, sleep. (Remember sleep?) So even if a magical location exists chock-full-o-moms who are also looking to make some friends, when the hell are you even supposed to get to go? Furthermore, say you've found some mom friends, how are you going to maintain a close relationship when you really don't have time to schedule regular get-togethers? From high school to adulthood, time somehow goes from being an eternal resource to something you fruitlessly have to dig for in-between your couch cushions.
Philosophical Differences May Be Challenging
In a perfect, reasonable, zen world, all parents (regardless of their differing opinions and beliefs) join hands in the spirit of unity and harmony, dance around a maypole, and get along famously without judgment or cross words. But let's be honest, it doesn't usually work like that, does it? Even if you can respect and support a mom with a wildly different worldview than you have, that doesn't necessarily mean you're going to become besties. In fact, you probably won't, and that's fine! It's not buying in to the mommy wars to say "Well, we really believe and behave very differently and I don't think this is working out." This is how most people operate and when you're a parent there are those additional opportunities for deeply held, very personal convictions that might cause a clash.
In high school? We're typically way too interested in ourselves to have deeply-held philosophical beliefs, so the differences are kind of a non-issue.
Cliques Are Still A Thing
Cliques definitely made forging friends challenging in high school at times, but here's why the Regina Georges of the world have nothing on some of the more obnoxious "mommy clans" out there: Whereas the queen bees of high school make no secret about the exclusivity of their respective tribes (I mean, do we not remember Lila Fowler starting The Unicorn Club in the Sweet Valley Twins series, guys?), all mothers imagine themselves to be "above it all," even when they aren't.
"I can't believe Nancy isn't doing the bake sale next week. She got so pissy about it and wouldn't say why. What is this, high school?!" some of them will sigh in exasperation. "We're adults!" Meanwhile, they and a couple of their friends were the ones who passive aggressively shamed Nancy on an email chain in front of everyone and made her cry and that's why she's quit the PTA. Now, most moms absolutely aren't like this, but I think it's disingenuous to pretend it doesn't happen and isn't challenging when trying to make new friends.
You Probably Cater Most Activities Around Kids
When you're in high school, you and your friends do the activities you have chosen to do (be that sports, shopping, hanging out at the local coffee shop or bumming around town looking like a gaggle of morose hooligans) and the world is your oyster. If you want to hang out with a mom friend? Congratulations, you're going somewhere loud, filthy, and covered in germs, because only those places will hold your child's attention. Or, hey, you can always invite them over your house? You know, if you like cleaning the night before and then cleaning after they leave.
You're Busy With Kids When You're Together
Remember when I said keeping a child alive is a full-time job? The includes during social activities. So if you and your mom friend plan to get together with your kids, you're going to be spending at least as much time with your kid as you are with her. Kids always need something. They need food, or a band-aid, or they need you to watch them do something, or they don't know they need you, but if they don't get down from there someone is going to break their arm.
It's A Higher Stakes Game
In high school, if one group of friends doesn't work out you move on to your next option. When it comes to mom friends, resources are skimpier and since those friendships take so much more effort it's harder to just bounce back from a failed on.
On top of that, school friends have the benefit of an easy break after graduation, if you're so inclined. Mom friends? If they don't work out you can hope for a natural drifting apart, but there's a slim chance you'll run into them (at your kids' school or around town) from time to time and things can get awkward. Add in the possibility that your kids are friends and, well, you're kinda stuck with them, either in begrudging friendship or some sort of awkward non-friendship. This is all over your head as you approach the matter to begin with. It blows.
You Already Have Friends You Rarely Get To Hang Out With
Let's face it, part of you is like, "Why the hell do I need mom friends? I have a ton of amazing friends from before I even thought about having kids whom I love and never get to see. Why am I going to use precious socializing time on new friends?!"
Not being able to hang out with your friends is basically a non-issue in high school. Moreover, you likely only have one group of friends, because where have you gone and what have you done with your life when you're a teenager? By the time you're an adult, however, you have high school friends (maybe, if you're lucky they've stuck around), college friends, work friends, neighborhood friends, "couple friends." So. Many. Different. Friends. You don't have the time to see half of them, so trying to making new friends seems ill-advised at times.
Kids Have To Get Along
There's a reason teenagers are selfish: because they can be and it's awesome and bless them as they enjoy this magical period of their life. When you're in high school, in friendship and all other matters, you only really have to worry about yourself. When you're a parent, routine selfishness is not attractive.
If you're making mom friends, you not only have to worry about whether you like her but whether your kids like her kids. Are they the same age, do they have similar interests, is her kid aggressive, is your kid teaching her kid dirty words. I have actually known women who have tearfully had to give up a mom friends because the whole kid aspect of it was going horribly awry. I swear, being a mom would be so much easier if it weren't for the kids.