In the five years that my husband and I tried to start our family, and before we finally became parents, I thought a whole lot about being a mom. I didn't, however, think about the role my friends, both mom friends and long-time friends, would impact my life as a mom. It turns out, that role is enormous and invaluable, because there have been times I really needed my friends to remind me that I'm a wonderful mother (or, you know, even just adequate).
Before I became a mom, I thought about how my partner and I would raise our children to be kind, how we'd teach them to love books, and how they'd avoid all the silly mistakes my husband and I made (wishful thinking, of course). But I didn't realize I was going to need major support in lots of different situations that I could never have predicted, or how my friends would inevitably to my rescue more times than I can count.
Writing up this list of times my friends have reminded me that I'm a wonderful mother has made me realize how valuable they have been over the last 18 months, as I've transitioned from child-free life into motherhood. It's also made me hope that I have somehow managed to make any of them feel the same.
When I Clearly Needed It
There's nothing like a pep talk from a friend when they can see you're close to experiencing a breakdown. Several times, and especially when I was a brand new mom, a friend jumped in with kind words and encouragement before I completely lost it. I may have still hit meltdown mode a few of those times, but thank goodness for good friends who can make you feel like you're not a disaster.
When I Felt Like I Was Failing
Around the time my daughter was a few months old, I was overcome with this weird mom guilt about whether I was teaching her enough, intentionally, every day. There would be times when she was awake that I just needed to get some things done, or when she was perfectly happy to just stare up at the mobile for an hour. Still, I felt terrible for not constantly paying attention to her every minute she was awake. Thankfully, one of my friends rescued me from that guilty loop and reminded me that I was doing pretty great, even if I left her to her own devices at times.
When It Was My Child's Birthday
Milestones, like a child's first birthday, often put the focus on the child, the decorations, and the cake. On my daughter's first birthday, one of my best friends sent a note to remind me what a wonderful job I've done in raising my daughter. It was a lovely moment, and make me so thankful that someone remembered all that I had accomplished (and not just the party favors I was handing out).
When I Sent My Baby To Daycare
Sending my daughter to daycare left me with a lot of mom guilt. I'm surrounded by stay-at-home moms and, while I know and knew that rationally it was going to be perfectly fine to send her to daycare, it still made me feel guilty (especially in the beginning). When she first started daycare, several of my mom friends, including stay-at-home moms, sent me reassuring text messages, saying she was fine and this was a good decision for me, her, and our family.
When They Didn't Know She Was Adopted
I met one of my best mom friends when my daughter was about 6 weeks old. It wasn't until we had our first play date that I spilled the beans that we had adopted our daughter, and my friend was so surprised.
Whenever I express anxiety about being an adoptive mom (like when other moms at the playground clearly don't recognize me as her mom), she reminds me that she never knew our daughter was adopted. It's somehow reassuring on those days when I just don't want to stand out or have to explain our daughter's adoption. Again.
When We Took In Foster Babies
Last summer, we had a baby girl in our home for a few months who we thought might stay in our family forever. A friend wrote me such a sweet note to say what a great job I was doing with both our daughters, foster and otherwise. It was the kindest acknowledgement of what was the most challenging time for me as a mother, the girls being only 10 weeks apart. I occasionally felt like I was short-changing my daughter by taking in foster babies, and my friends often reminded me that my daughter was perfectly OK having a sibling for however long it lasted.
When I Made A Mistake
Sometimes friends need to step in and remind you that you are not, in fact, a terrible mother simply because you've been giving your child a pacifier for a year that's designed for a 3 month old, or didn't realize you shouldn't give your kid honey graham crackers before they turn 1. Speaking from experience, I needed my friends to talk me off the ledge when I was pretty sure I was an epic mom failure for doing some stupid things as a mom.
When They Made A Mistake
Of course, sometimes friends remind you that you're doing perfectly OK as a mom without saying a word and, instead, simply by displaying some questionable mom decisions of their own. It hasn't happened often, because most of my mom friends are truly great moms, but every so often I get to share a little knowledge of my own, and I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job.