Accepting my mom friendships for what they are

By Lauran Bell

I can’t figure out if the mom friends I’ve made because of my seven-year-old are truly my friends. I most likely would not have been drawn to some of these women on my own, but here we are working together as a team to cover for each other when we can’t be at a school drop-off or pick-up. Are these friendships simply practical?

As a mom who worked part-time and is now a stay-at-home mother (for lack of a better word), I feel I need connections. As a college English instructor, I interacted with approximately 40 students a day, as well as my colleagues. Now, all I seem to have are my mom friends. Or are they really just my daughter’s friends’ moms?

A few of us spend hours a week together. During morning drop-off, we park on the same street so that we can catch up while walking into school. We chat about our weekends and our holiday plans as our kids intermittently interrupt. After drop-off we meet on the corner and talk about the stresses of family management, our midlife realizations about our lives, and online math programs, until one of the moms has to go to work or to an appointment.

Many weekday mornings I have an internal debate. If a mom friend asks me to coffee, should I go, or should I spend my time working on goals and priorities—maybe spend some time with my husband if he’s not working? I guess I don’t fully trust that the bonds with these moms will endure. And therefore I don’t know if I should be making such an effort. It’s hard enough to keep up with the needs of my family, let alone all the to-dos and desires on my own personal list.

I often wonder what brings this group of moms together beyond the common thread of parenthood and our kids’ friendships. Is it just that we are walking on similar paths, with kids who are the same age, go to the same school, and have shared experiences? For the most part, and especially with certain moms, our kids brought us together, not the other way around. Would we even have connected if we had met before we had kids?

So I have to remind myself to keep my mom friendships in perspective. Because they are most likely transitory, dictated by my child’s choices and needs. I tell myself to enjoy these friendships when they are positive, helpful, and supportive, but not to become overly dependent on them.

This is a depressing thought, but maybe it will motivate me to keep up with some of my pre-kid friends, the ones who have weathered more than one phase of life with me, who have shared in the most difficult periods. But it’s hard to find time to see those friends when you don’t have kids the same age, or they don’t live in the same city.

Maybe the goal—the jackpot—is to find a mom and child combo that works for both me and my daughter. And, like dating, it’s a process.

But even if my current mom friends don’t last, I won’t count it as time wasted, because the ever-changing mom group has served a specific purpose. A support system that has made my life and my daughter’s better, even if only for a short period of time.

Lauran Bell is a native Californian and has a M.A. in English from Stanford University. She taught English composition to college students for thirteen years before deciding to exchange hours of grading and teaching for time spent volunteering in her daughter’s classroom and socializing with her friends’ parents.

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