Most of my friends aren't parents. It's nothing personal or on purpose, it's just the way things have worked out. But, the mom friends I do have? Those folks are awesome. They understand some aspects of my life in ways that even the most compassionate and well-intentioned, wonderful non-parent friends just won't. (And that's no failure of theirs.) I don't know what I'd do without them. When I think about the qualities that make a great mom friend, it's difficult to put into words... so I asked other moms to do it for me.
Among the people I asked, there were some recurring themes: non-judgmental. Understanding. Helpful. Compassionate. Also wine and swearing. Wine and swearing came up a couple times which, if you're a mom, I probably don't have to explain to you.
A lot of my mom friends are actually virtual. God bless the internet... except for the sexist, racist part of the internet that is constantly messing everything up. That part of the internet go burn to the ground, never to return, and I'd mark the date as a national holiday. But the mom friend part of the internet is actually awesome. My real life mom friends all tend to have similar qualities as well: they're warm, helpful, and try to gather around one another to create a village mentality the enables us to lean on each other and encourages us to reach out whenever and however we can.
Here's what 17 other moms had to say about the qualities that make a fantastic mom friend:
"I love my mom friends who jump right in when one of my kids needs something, whether it’s a snack, a trip to the potty, or just a little snuggle when mama’s hands are otherwise full."
"It’s wonderful to have friends that are moms, they just get it! From nipple pain to postpartum depression (PPD) to lack of sleep. Some of my closest friends are other moms because we just understand each other without having to engage in small talk. There are no stronger and more empathetic people than moms. We share compassion and love for our little munchkins but we also share a lot of pain and sadness. We get one another."
"Having similar parenting styles, being able to swear in front of each other, not being judgmental. Being able to complain about the kids, the husband, and life in general. It helps to enjoy making fun of the same things. Our kids liking each other is a plus too, I guess."
"For me, it's having someone who 'gets' what it's like to have kids, so they don't judge in any way, shape, or form (even when I'm complaining about my family and contemplating running away for the 3,058,90th time). It's someone who asks about my family, too, and who actually cares to know about them. They need to have at least some interest in my kid (as in, they're nice and talk to or play with them when they're around) and it helps if their kid(s) get along with mine, though I know my 4-year-old isn't always a peach. It's also someone who knows I don't really want to talk about motherhood or my kid all the time, and acknowledges me as a person, as an individual, before focusing on me being a mother."
"They pretend to be enthusiastic when I share cute stories about my kids, even when I know their kids are constantly doing the same cute stuff."
"As a mom with anxiety/panic, it's often hard to find someone who 'gets you'. So for me, it's having someone who understands that and knows lots of times I'm probably going to sound irrational, but still loves and accepts me. They are the voice of reason at 3:00 a.m. when I'm trying to decide if its a normal tummy ache or if its cholera (obviously kidding here, but you get it). They know that when I say my kid is being an asshole that I still love them with a fierceness that cannot be described with words. ... It's being able to be the same for that person. Having completely open, honest, and raw conversations, and also conversations that are about someone else's poop (because, as a mom, who hasn't talked about poop?)"
"Offering help when they know you won't ask but need it. I've had friends take my kids, bring dinner, take me out, just basically help me through the hard times that of raising children."
"The perfect mom friend? One who believes in the tribe mentality. I have a young 3-year-old who has autism, and moms are often totally overwhelmed by him. For me? A perfect mom friend thinks he is awesome just how he is. She teaches her children that all children are worth being friends with. She stops him from bolting and just turns him around and sends him off to where he should be and doesn't feel the need to tell me. Someone who isn't afraid to tell my child respectfully to stop doing something unkind. Someone who doesn't mind that my husband is sober. Someone I can cry to and who will not judge. Oh, and they have to have a terrible mouth."
"Someone who keeps it real. Someone who you can answer honestly to when they ask, 'How are you?' and you're actually peering over the edge of insanity. Someone who invites you over when their house is messy. Someone who uses the F word around kids, or at least doesn't mind when I do."
"Someone who is real and honest, who doesn’t judge your parenting or other life choices. Someone who doesn’t mind if you bail because you’re tired or just don’t feel like doing something. Someone who will sit and drink coffee or wine and chat mom stuff while all the kid chaos is happening around us, but doesn’t get distracted."
"Non-judgmental, supportive, flexible. Swearer and drinker a plus, but not required."
"They don’t get mad when I can’t join or have to cancel plans or don’t talk to them for two weeks, but can pick up like I spent all day yesterday with them."
"Someone who understands the unconditional love and the constant struggle for balance. Someone whose friendship exists alongside the perpetual focus I have upon my children, so that we can exist exactly as we are in that space and simultaneously share laughter, triumphs, and grief."
"Someone who I feel 100 percent comfortable around. Who doesn’t judge but cheers me on when I’m doubting my mom-ing skills. Someone who doesn’t mind a messy house or me being in sweats but who actually appreciates it. Someone who I can drop my kid off with occasionally if something comes up, and I’ll do the same for her. Someone with low drama and lower gossiping. Someone who never runs out of coffee. Someone who doesn’t mind if we sometimes just get together so the kids can play and we can each fart around on our phones for a quiet minute."
"For me, I need friends who understand life gets in the way but we pick up where we left off like no time has passed and no matter how much time has past. Friends who actually don’t judge because I will never judge them. And friends with a strong sense of humor because moms need that like air."
"My best mom friends are also people I jive with politically. Because I can't separate my motherhood from my politics, especially in a post-Trump world. So in addition to doing the typical mom stuff (play dates, girls' nights when we can swing it) and watching each other's kids, we're also often schlepping our kids to political meetings and rallies together, which works out well because they have some built-in entertainment at what might otherwise be boring for them."
"Moms who share food with me and my kids, at their house, and invite us over last minute. And vice versa of course."