Not every mom is cut out for the kind of small talk that goes on at playgrounds and during play dates. I'm an introvert, so it's something that I've always struggled with. Some moms are naturals when it comes to initiating conversations and making new friends, and some of us aren't. At the park or school function, we're the moms who are often sitting alone on a bench, but it's not because we are stuck-up. It's because we find small talk to be awkward and exhausting.
Recently, I was watching an episode of Good Girls where Christina Hendricks's character was pushing her child on a swing while the mothers next to her gabbed about motherhood. Her face was blank, and she looked like she wanted to crawl out of her skin, and I thought, "That's me."
Thankfully, sometimes "mom friends" turn into real friends.
The truth is, other than the opportunity it provides for my kids to have someone to play with, I have no need or desire to have "mom friends." For me, these friendships always feel competitive. What I really want is true friendships, the kind where you are free to talk about subjects other than potty-training and sleep schedules. I spend the vast majority of my day doing "mom stuff," and when I finally get a chance to connect with another adult, I don't necessarily want to only talk about my kids.
Thankfully, sometimes "mom friends" turn into real friends; but this has been rare for me. Since becoming a mom 11 years ago, I've only met two women who have become real friends to me, and I am so grateful for them. These friendships started out with our kids being friends, because kids are amazing at connecting with one another without all the awkwardness. Eventually, after getting comfortable with one another, we were able to let down our guard and talk about real issues with honesty, which built trust; the foundation of true friendship.
Most of my treasured friendships are those that have stood the test of time — since high school, actually. The history I have with these women is rich and deep. Some of them are mothers, and some are not. Most of us do not live within an easy driving distance of each other, but we stay in touch in other ways. When we get together, we talk about our kids (if we have them), but we also talk about so much more. These are the women I didn't hesitate to reach out to recently after receiving a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. I knew I could count on their love and support. I trust these friends with my deepest insecurities and darkest pain. I can also speak the truths about myself and motherhood that I would be embarrassed to reveal to anyone else, and I know I can always count on them to listen to me with zero judgment — and then laugh with me to the point of tears when we finally get to spend time together.
Right now, my life is busier than it has ever been. I work from home, and I have a husband and three sons. Most of my time and energy goes to my family and my responsibilities, and now that I am facing a chronic disease, I have to be even more selective about my energy output. Friendships, like any relationships, require time and effort. They take work, and I am really only willing to put in that work for true friendships, not superficial ones.
Maybe I have simply outgrown the "mom friends" phase, when your kids are babies or toddlers and you feel desperate to just be with another adult in the same sleep-deprived and depleted state. Today, I need more. I need a friend that I know I can call during a crisis — that won't judge me or gossip to other moms about my parenting choices. Today, I would sacrifice a dozen "mom friends" for one true friendship.