Nothing makes you realize who you can and cannot rely on like having a child. When I had my daughter I figured I knew who among my friends I could lean on, and believed I had a good idea of how my friendships and relationships would pan out moving forward, especially those relationships with other moms. Instead, I set myself up for disappointment in my mom friendships and, hindsight being 20/20, I realize where I went wrong.
Now, I'm not saying the problem was the mom friends I managed to make. On the contrary, the problem was my seemingly never-ending list of unrealistic expectations. I've sense learned to meet people halfway and where they are, but it wasn't easy. Anytime I felt frustrated or disappointed I went into defense mode and assumed someone was intentionally trying to hurt me. As a result, I would end a friendship way before I should have, and in favor of doing things my own way.
Interpersonal relationships are never easy, and I'd argue they're increasingly difficult to manage with other moms who probably parent their children differently than you do. Finding our tribe isn't easy, and it certainly wasn't easy for me. So with that in mind, here are a few ways I set myself up for disappointment in my mom friendships:
I Tried To Be Like Them
Sacrificing who I am as a mom and a person, just to fit in with a certain group of moms, wasn't sustainable. Still, I envied the mom friends who appeared to have it all together and wanted to be like them. So I killed myself trying to "keep up," and essentially exhausted myself.
In the end my failed attempts to look as effortless as these mom only made me feel like a failure. It also cost me genuine friendships with other moms, because I was too afraid to voice how I actually felt or ask for meaningful advice. We could've learned from each other, but instead we just drifted apart.
I Assumed Motherhood Would Be Enough To Bond Us
Just because you're a mom doesn't mean you're going to automatically get along with another mom. Turns out, you have to have other things in common with a potential parent friend, especially if you want to talk about literally anything else besides your children. So while being a mom is a good start and potentially a solid foundation for a sustainable relationship, there has to be more.
I Assumed My Village Would Come To Me
I mean, who has time to go out and make friends when they're recovering form childbirth and trying to parent a needy newborn? I certainly didn't. So I kind of thought that my friends would come to me, and making mom friends would be more of an organic, automatic experience instead of an endeavor I would have to put a ton of time and effort into.
I Thought Everyone's Advice Would Be Useful
Hahaha. Haha. Ha.
Even if someone with the best of intentions shares some heartfelt advice that is in no way a subtle jab or an attempt at shaming, it isn't always going to be useful. Parents parent differently, so what works for one mom isn't always going to work for another. It took me a while to learn this hard lesson, instead of assuming something was wrong with me or the mom throwing advice my way was trying to make me feel like garbage for making different choices.
I Relied Too Heavily On Media Depictions Of Mom Friends
Turns out, just because you see it on television or in a movie doesn't mean it's true. I had these visions of mom friendships, and it stemmed from how mom friends were depicted in the media. But real-life isn't a sitcom, my friends, and interpersonal relationships are much more complicated.
I Assumed We'd All Make The Same Parenting Decisions
I assumed that if I got along with another mom, it would be because we gravitated toward the same parenting philosophies and made the same parenting choices. That wasn't always the case, though, and when our ideas about right and wrong differed I was completely caught off guard. I should have prepared myself for the inevitable differences.
I Thought I'd Be Able To Give More Of Myself
I wasn't kind to myself when trying to cultivate friendships, and that made the entire experience all the more challenging to navigate. Now I know that I can't stack my calendar with outings and playdates in the name of friendship. All it does it make me tired and cranky and when I'm stretched too thin I'm not the ideal friend.
I've also realized that I'm more than happy with just a few close, reliable friends. My village doesn't have to be large in order to be supportive, so I don't have to constantly be on the lookout for new friends. I'm happy, and grateful, for the ones I have now.