As a parenting coach, I started recognizing that many of the mothers I work with, regardless of their concerns or challenges, experience the same feelings. They are exhausted, overwhelmed with mom guilt, and often feel like they are the reason for their child’s challenging behavior.
And yet, they have no idea that so many other mothers experience these same feelings? Women spend so much time ensuring that everyone else’s needs are met that we don’t permit ourselves to feel our feelings. When we finally do, so much bubbles up to the surface, and we rarely express how we’re feeling to someone else. We might turn to our trusted friend Google to get answers to our parenting questions, but that will not provide us with a place where we can feel seen and heard. That’s where a mom friend can come in.
What Is a “Mom Friendship”?
A mom friendship is where you seek the support and friendship of other mothers in the same boat. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your best friend who you go to for everything. Those friendships are valuable, but a mom friend is different. A mom friend is having someone else with children of similar ages as yours and whose daily struggles and joys you can relate to. Solutions and suggestions are shared, but criticism and judgments are not. In this friendship, you both see each other and remind yourselves that you are not in this alone.
Why Do We Need Mom Friends?
Motherhood in the absence of mom friends can feel very isolating. As women, we’re taught not to complain, to toughen up, to not make everything a big deal, etc. When we subscribe to these ideas, we retreat and keep things to ourselves because we might feel ashamed or embarrassed of what others may think. This is a dangerous pattern. Engaging in self-blame will ultimately impact the way that you parent.
Mothers carry shame around parenting decisions and constantly ask themselves if they’re doing enough or being enough. This is where having mom friendships is incredibly important. If you don’t give yourself permission to feel and name what you’re experiencing, it festers and grows—and resentment enters. Sometimes a heart-to-heart with another mother who can identify with what you’re experiencing can immediately bring you ease and comfort.
This is why I decided to start offering group parent coaching—not because I thought moms could learn more from me in a group, but because I knew the value they’d gain from seeing each other in their stories.
In our group coaching call, when a mother begins to describe a challenge, something remarkable happens. All the other mothers begin to nod and smile. They raise their hand and say, “Me too; I have the same question or the same problem.” They laugh with each other because they see they’re not alone. They tell one another, “I am right there with you.”
Mom friends offer perspective and support. They can provide humor and remind you that this too shall pass. You can get stuck in your thoughts of what’s not going right, but a mom friend reminds you of all the good things you might be overlooking.
How Do You Make Mom Friends?
You can start by connecting with the mothers your children go to school or daycare with. I spent the first 12 years of my career as a director of an early childhood preschool that was a co-op. This meant that the parents participated in the running of the school. It was unique in that the school atmosphere fostered a community-like feel for the families. Many of these parents have remained lifelong friends. Though your child might not attend a co-op school, you can create a community-like atmosphere with other parents by planning events, volunteering, or introducing yourself to other parents.
If you’re able to, join classes where parents and kids participate. For example, a music class, or an after-school activity can be a great way to befriend another mom. It can be intimidating at first, but every mom is seeking connection. Not only does it help to have mom friends, but it’s just as important to be a mom friend. It’s a reciprocal relationship where you see each other and validate your experiences.
Look for mom groups locally. If that feels like too much, Facebook groups are a great way to lean into this. I belong to a few Facebook groups for parents of children in special education. As a speech and language pathologist, I like to be available as a resource for parents who may have questions. These groups are often supportive and kind. Parents immediately lift each other up through encouragement and shared stories, and as a result, can often find ideas of what has and hasn’t worked.
The Mom Friend Takeaway
This is a beautiful time to be a mother. I can see it all around me. Both physical and virtual spaces are being created where mothers can come together and share in an honest and genuine way. We are giving ourselves permission to be transparent and expressive about all the beautiful parts of motherhood, as well as the struggles.
I feel that one of our greatest purposes here on Earth is to connect with others, create moments, and evolve. We cannot do that alone. Give yourself permission to make mom friends and to be a mom friend. It will enrich your parenting experience. As the author, Dr. Brene Brown says, “We are not meant to do this alone.”