Watching my daughters run to little kids playing in the open space area in our local outdoor mall stirs up nervous butterflies in my stomach. Will the little girls accept my daughters' request to play or will they snub them in the way that little kids often do? Honestly, I don’t want my kids to be rejected by peers the way I have been.
Approaching new people has always been really hard for me to do. I’ve been rejected by other moms who either did not want to take the time to get to know me or just didn’t want bring another person into their friendship circle. Being rejected sucks, which is why I am extremely proud of my little girls for being able to ask others to play and the way they bounce back if they are told no. Making friends, maintaining friendships and knowing when to let go is difficult. Having daughters and trying to help them navigate their friendships has taught me about myself and the type of friend I am. Somehow, it's clearer when you're watching the dynamics of it all as an objective adult.
I wrongly believed that having a baby meant I would instantly connect with all moms. Nope.
I’ve had my share of friendships throughout the years. Some that have lasted, others that have faded and unfortunately some that crashed and burned. Sometimes it was a clash in personalities or political affiliation, or just a gut instinct that this is not the type or relationship that I want to be in. And of course there are those friendships that ended abruptly — I’ll never truly understand why the person stopped calling or texting. Becoming a mom has taught me the importance of solid, healthy friendships. Making mom friends is hard! Not only are you incredibly busy raising little humans, but there are still the dreaded cliques, and all the ups and downs of making and keeping friends. Let’s just say I don’t take friendships for granted.
There are some key points about friendships that I try to teach and explain my girls, especially not that they are in preschool and kindergarten. This first lesson is you must genuinely like each other. Some of my longest, closest, most cherished friendships sparked because of instant compatibility. Being an introvert made it difficult to make friends when I was growing up, so to be comfortable and be able to be my true self with someone — bad jokes and all — made it easy to recognize a genuine friendship. This foundation is required of all friendships and it’s something I forgot when I started trying to make mom friends. I wrongly believed that having a baby meant I would instantly connect with all moms. Nope, couldn’t be more wrong. And you can’t pretend to like someone or something if you really, really don’t.
If a friendship causes you stress, anxiety, and messes with your self-esteem then it’s time to say girl, bye.
People change, and common interests can change which can end a friendship. Growing apart happens and some friendships don’t last forever. Even the most beloved friendships can crash and burn, leaving behind hurt feelings that may leave us full of spite and make us want to lash out at the ex-friend. Katy Perry and Taylor Swift; Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton; Jay-Z and Kanye are all proof that breakups can bring out the worst in us. Maybe things ended due to a terrible fight or because you couldn’t agree on anything, but no matter how upset you are, do not talk badly about this other person. Of course it’s OK to vent to your closest friend or into a journal, but don’t badmouth an ex. Just close the door on that friendship and leave it be.
The same goes for the dreaded toxic relationship. I know that they will happen and it’s important that you get yourself out of it ASAP. If a friendship causes you stress, anxiety, and messes with your self-esteem then it’s time to say girl, bye. You should never dread seeing a girlfriend. Friends should build you up, not bring you down. I want my girls to understand that it’s important to be nice, caring and compassionate to our friends but you should never let someone walk all over you. It’s never OK to let others mistreat you over and over again. Be willing to forgive others, but if you’re constantly feeling slighted and they are always saying sorry and the problem is not being solved, it’s time to move on.
Not every difficult situation means you have to end the friendship. Sometimes, you will have to have awkward conversations with friends that you want to have in your life for the long haul. Talking things out can actually open up the door to learning more about one another and letting each other know which boundaries can and can’t be crossed. My friends have had to tell me to calm down and slow my roll on a couple occasions. Once you are able to be yourself with someone and they’ve seen the good and the bad, your friendship becomes that much stronger. Unfortunately, we all make mistakes. We mess up, we cross the line, we speak without thinking and hurt other people’s feelings. In these cases we need to apologize and learn from our mistake and not repeat it. The same goes for our friends — whoever said love means never having to say you are sorry must never have learned the importance of owning up to your mistakes.
According to the charts, my two extroverted Sagittarians will have no problems moving from group to group, but they need to learn how to nurture genuine friendships. And they will be disappointed — I can't protect them from that. What I can do is be honest about the hard work that goes into good friendships, and the amazing payoff when they find someone who loves them as they are. Someone who loves them as much as I do.