I sent them to bed twenty minutes earlier than usual just so I could get some quiet ... they can't tell time yet, so no harm, no foul, right?
Piece by piece, I've been demolishing their stash from the last candy-ridden holiday, and they have no idea.
I actually faked a stomachache just so I could be by myself in the bathroom for fifteen minutes.
These are the kinds of statements that I have found myself saying to my dear "mom friends" over the years. Almost confession-like in nature, you can't say these things to just anyone. I consider myself very fortunate to have a solid number of mama pals, both those local enough to meet up on the playground, as well as those who I only hang out with online. While I can't say that I've ever consciously chosen my friends based on any specific criteria, upon some reflection there is certainly some common ground:
- A killer sense of humor. All of my mom friends have the fabulous ability to not only laugh at my parenting foibles with me, but they can do the same about their own. And truly, the ability to laugh about it all is so, so necessary sometimes.
- With humor, even the starkest honesty is possible. My friends have shared their deepest (and yes even darkest) feelings with me, and likewise have listened to mine, all without shame and embarrassment. Life as a mom can wreak havoc on one's sense of guilt and shame, and having a friend who will listen without judgment is imperative.
- No one is perfect. That might sound odd, but it's quite possibly the most important characteristic on this list. I need to surround myself with mom friends who understand firsthand what it means to make parenting mistakes, and whose children have had public meltdowns just like my own. My parenting experiences have yet to include perfection at any given time in the last ten years, so I need pals who can relate to my reality.
- Straight talk, or really, any kind of talk. This is key. My friends all like to talk, or otherwise, I wouldn't imagine why any of them put up with the likes of me. We can talk about our kids, of course, but we also know how to break out of that mold and spend our chatting time on topics ranging from serious to frivolous, politics to Glee. If we number more than three in a group, expect the lively conversation to go in several directions, sometimes all at once.
- Reality rules. Simply put- my friends are real. No one needs to put on airs when we're together. I'll try to vacuum before they come over if I can, but if someone pops in and sees my little house as a big mess, I know she's not going to drop me in a flash. They've seen me with make-up on and in nice clothes, but they've also seen me at my worst (or my everyday, which absolutely does not include make-up or nice clothing). They've listened to me brag about a child's achievement, and they've held my hand as I cried about my latest parenting fail. And I hope they could say the same for me.
While new moms are often inundated with advice on just about every child-rearing topic in the world, I think one area that's sadly neglected is an emphasis on the importance of friendship. With the daily craze of life, it's much too easy to forget about the value in connections with others who can understand it all. This isn't to say that a mom's circle of friends should only include other moms, certainly, but just a focus on one section of that circle. Thankfully, it's a circle that can grow as large as one wants it to!
Dawn may reside in Greenbelt in real life, but online she lives at her blog, my thoughts exactly, where she chatters on about her funny kids, her NPR obsession and plenty of other randomness. She can also be found at 5 Minutes for Books, reviewing everything from contemporary fiction to children's literature.