Friendship. For this sanguine choleric friends make the world go round and the sun shine on rainy days (like today).
When we moved from Dallas I left behind an awesome group of friends. That was tough. That was a tough season for us though. Plus, Dallas is only 4 hours away, so i just think of those friends as out of sight not out of reach!
I was recently talking with a girl I know here in San Angelo. While were chatting a few days ago she told me that she felt like she had lost herself when she became a mother. She had never intended on being a stay at home mom, and the isolation made her feel as if her old self had disappeared. She is super smart and an accomplished artist, and suddenly she was reduced to changing diapers, staying up all night soothing a crying infant, sitting in her house all day with no adult interaction.
As I listened to her I thought to myself, I never felt that way. All I have ever wanted was to be a wife and mother. But as she continued I realized that I had felt that way, I still sometimes do feel that way. She beat herself up a little about being envious of the career her husband was building, and I told her that those feelings were totally normal! She had worked hard her whole life to have a career of her own, forge her own path, and bask in the glory that came with it. Don’t we all do that? And suddenly she felt as if her gifts and talents were useless and unnecessary.
In college I studied and went to class and got decent grades, but my true passion was in event planning. I loved it! I loved being on the inside, behind the scenes. I saw myself taking all of this experience, moving to the big city, and planning weddings and fancy parties. So, I totally get what she means. I know how it feels to sit in your house all day with your kid and go a little stir crazy. To attack your husband when he walks through the door with happy squeals and hugs (Edmund does that…ok…I do that too) because you are so excited to have company! I know how you get out of breath and dry mouthed from talking non stop about your day because he is the first person you could talk to without looking crazy (Hey nice lady who made eye contact in the canned vegetable aisle, you look like you have some time to hear a funny story or 6 about my kid).
I think that being a stay at home mom with young children can be extremely lonely and isolating. You are so busy that you don’t have time to see friends, let alone make new friends!
I have been thinking recently that I haven’t had a chance to be “Tricia” lately. When you hang out with your friends you can be yourself. You can share your thoughts and ideas. Edmund totally listens to all my ideas and he usually laughs at all my jokes (mostly because I laugh and then he copies my laugh, but I’ll take what I can get).
As a mom I think it is so very important to have friends and make the time to see them and spend time with them with or without your kids in tow. This morning I had a super crazy melt down. Edmund kept asking for something, but I couldn’t understand him. We had been up for 3 hours and it was barely 9am. Travis was getting ready to leave for work which meant 8 hours without another adult around. Nap time was still 4 hours away. I started crying, so Edmund was crying. And then Travis tried to take Edmund to another room so I could have a minute, but by then Edmund was terrified and ran over hugging me and screaming. What a mess. I blame this episode on the fact that it is Spring Break and both of my mom groups were cancelled this week. I haven’t had friend time in too long. I need those 4 hours each week. I need to be with my mom friends and be refueled by our common struggles and hilarious stories. I need a chance to step away from myself and focus on someone else.
Friendship is not one sided. To have a friend you have to be a friend, right? Well being a friend, giving myself to another person, supporting another person renews my sense of person. Being able to get out of my little world or house cleaning, diaper changing, and cooking allows me to refocus and see the bigger picture again.
I probably won’t be an event planner, at least not anytime soon. And that is OK. It doesn’t mean that my pre-mother self has disappeared. It just means that my kid will have really awesome birthday parties…just kidding. It means that right now God has bigger and better plans for me. Right now my main priority is being a good wife and mother. And for me, in order to do that, I need to have solid, loving, and supportive girl friends.
I am working on branching out and meeting new people. I am also working on fostering the friendships I have recently started with a few great women. But friendship takes time (this isn’t fifth grade, people). I am trying to be brave and put myself out there. Because now I am not the only one exposed, Edmund is always with me. So with new friendships come the fear of judgement. Will they judge my kid? Will they judge my style? My clothes, pants a little snug in the belly from un-lost baby weight, sweater with a little chocolate on the sleeve from wiping away the evidence of an m&m bribe? My hair, grease hidden with dry shampoo, bun falling down? Will they judge me when Edmund screams loud for no reason other than to be heard? Will they judge me when he tries to climb of booths in Chickfila? Will they think I hover over him because he won’t play in the play place unless he can see me at all times? Will they think I don’t discipline enough, or too much? Making friends before you have kids is a piece of cake compared to after you have kids.
I have also learned in making new mommy friends, that I have to be a little less sensitive. Theoretically I think that whole “it takes a village” philosophy makes a lot of sense. But practically it make my neck sweat when people correct my kid, and that is just silly. If I saw someones toddler trying to scale a booth and his mother was preoccupied I would gently try to persuade him to come back down. I do things like that all the time, even before I had a kid of my own. I don’t think that is a bad thing, but a mom is sensitive. A mom is tired and stressed. This mom usually has to remind herself that no one is calling her a bad mom by saving her child from a fall when she is paying for her meal or cleaning up a spill.
So in order to make friends as a mom, you have to let your guard down a little. You have to be a little vulnerable. You can’t be so sensitive. Other moms get it, they have probably been in your shoes (and if they haven’t, don’t worry, their time is coming). Moms need friends. We need friends to reassure us that motherhood isn’t second rate to the exciting career you always dreamed of. We need them to celebrate our victories, the big ones (husbands promotion, finding your lost debit card in the bottom of the toy box, going a whole day without screaming at our kids) and the little ones (going 10 minutes without screaming at our kids, getting your toddler to wear shoes, finishing your coffee before lunch). We need to laugh and be ourselves.
So, don’t let yourself be friendless. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, because I guarantee that there is another mom just waiting for a friend like you.