The 10 Mom Friends Every Mom Needs

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Before you have kids, finding friends is all about you; who you want to hang out with, who you have the most in common with and who you can you can depend on for a good time. Once kids enter the picture, though, friendships take on new meaning. You need friends who understand exactly what you’re going through and won’t be annoyed when it takes six months to get a lunch on the calendar and can’t maintain a phone conversation for more than three minutes. You need moms who just plain get it, and make motherhood easier, not harder, for you.

Do you have the right mix of moms surrounding you? Here are the ten moms every mom needs in her life:

1. The MacGyver Mom. She’s prepared for everything, always. Find yourself at a nasty rest stop with no sink in sight? She’s got the Purell on hand. She carries enough extra snacks for your kids, always has Band-Aids and baby wipes on her and keeps a few extra booster seats in the car for impromptu playdates.

2. The Mom Who Can’t Be Grossed Out. She wasn’t phased when your kid puked in her car, and gets a sick thrill combing other people’s kids hair for lice. She’s the first one you call about that nasty rash… on them, or you.

3. The Mom Who Lives To Cook. This mom gets off on receiving compliments on her cooking, and she’ll go above and beyond to get her fix. She’s always inviting you over for dinner, creating meal wheels for sick friends and bringing homemade goodies to book club. She’s a complete culinary over-achiever, but you don’t mind because, hello — home cooking?!

4. The Crafty DIY Mom Who Knows Every Home Remedy. Whether it’s a cabinet door that won’t stay closed, how to get Vaseline out of your toddler’s hair, or where to find 2000 popsicle sticks at 3AM for a school project due in five hours, she’s your girl. And she already has everything you need, right there in her tidy little craft room.

5. The True Blue Friend. Nothing shocks her, she never judges you and she never, ever makes you feel like a failure of a parent. She may not be your go-to for the best time ever friend (if she is, she’s gold,) but you can count on her for anything, anytime.

6. The Neighborhood Fun House Mom. Her house is like a magnet. She always has snacks, games, kid-friendly new releases, and most of all, never seems to mind entertaining the whole ‘hood. She might be an angel in disguise.

7The Mom Who Likes A Good Glass Of Wine But Hates Drinking Alone. Wine mom never minds if you need to bring along a kid or two to your lunch and won’t give you a hard time for being late. You never feel guilty in her presence and she’s always up for a good time. She’s chill, she’s happy and she’s… wait, is she passed out?

8. The Mom Who You Can Ignore Your Kids With. You adore her, she adores you, and you have kids who play well enough together that you can pretend they aren’t there and catch up. It’s the trifecta of mommy-friendships.

9. The Mom With A Baby. The last thing you want is another baby, HELL NO, but a sweet little baby fix every now and then? Yes, please. Plus, once your kids are no longer the cute ones, it’s nice to be reminded of just how trying those days were… especially when you have a tween or teen slamming the door in your face. (Younger Kid Mom also serves as excellent free birth control.)

10. The Mom With Older Kids. She’s out of the trenches. Her hair is done, her clothes are stylish (and clean), and her kids are reasonably independent and well-behaved. Hanging out with her makes you feel like there might be hope for you yet… Someday. Maybe.

Related post: The Six Mothers Every Mother Hates

Why Losing My Friends Meant Losing Myself

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Like most people, I’ve lost my share of friends. Every move was a source of culling, intentional or not. Each time I changed schools, I left friends behind. I’ve lost friends when we drifted away from each other, when our interests diverged, and after unrecoverable fights.

The ghosts of my friendships past still haunt me to varying degrees. The losses all hurt in some way or another but the most hurtful time I’ve lost friends was after I became a mother. Losing them was painful. Depressing. Gut-wrenching. Four years later, I’m still mourning the loss of not just my friends, but what those friendships represented.

When we’re young, many of our friends are chosen for us. Whether by school assignments, activities, or play-dates, forces beyond our control dictate who we are surrounded by. But, as we age, we begin learn that friends are more than just people we’re obligated to be around. By the time we’re adults we’re able to choose our friends for the most part. They’re people who often share our beliefs and interests. Who make us laugh. Who care for us, have fun with us and make us better people.

And, most tellingly, our friends reflect where we are in life. When I went to art school, I made friends with creative, uninhibited artists. In my early, carefree 20s, my friends were partiers – we hit up bars and clubs at night; brunch was never before noon. A few years later though, I was looking for something more substantial. I wanted to have more meaningful friendships with people I could confide in rather than just yelling in their ear at 2 am, straining to be heard over the music.

I began to value and cultivate friendships with women who were just as much fun on the dance floor as they were chatting over cupcakes or flea market shopping. And I was pleased when we formed a group of all-around, all-day friends. Real friends.

Leaving my partying and single life behind, I got married and pregnant soon after. Everyone was happy for me and we, of course, intended to stay friends after my son’s birth. I wasn’t sure what motherhood would bring, but I knew what kind of mother I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to lose myself to motherhood. I didn’t want my son to consume both my life and my identity. After all, I was a modern, feminist, independent woman and there was no reason for a baby to change that.

But then I had a baby. A baby who wouldn’t sleep. And as I was swallowed by my deepening depression and an overwhelming anxiety disorder, my former life, complete with friends, ideas and goals slipped away from me.

My depression meant that I wasn’t the best mother I could be. Or the best wife. Or the best friend.

It’s not that I didn’t care about my friends anymore – I absolutely did – I just couldn’t figure out how to fit them into a new life that revolved around nap schedules, feeding schedules, and oh yeah, crying anywhere and everywhere.

Friendships without cultivation wither and die and that’s exactly what mine did. I had less and less in common with friends from my former life. They were in a totally different place in my life than I was. They didn’t understand what it was like to wake up ten times in one night or get up at four every day for a year and a half. My only priorities were about my family: making sure I could function on a day-to-day basis; keeping my son alive; trying my hardest to keep my strained marriage together.

My friends from my pre-baby life didn’t understand why I couldn’t meet them for dinner, drinks or shopping. They didn’t know that being without my son made me feel like I couldn’t breathe, like a physical part of my body was missing and that I was only whole when I was with him. Even though when I was with him, I was sure I was doing everything wrong. I worried about everything and anything and felt like nothing would ever get better, nothing would ever change. He would never sleep and I would never feel like myself again.

Fortunately, I was able to get help. Therapy, anti-depressants, and my son sleeping into the five o’clock hour allowed me to emerge from the deep pit of depression. Also of help? My “mom” friends.

I am supremely, unbelievably, fantastically lucky to have made several wonderful “mom” friends over the past few years. They were able to understand my challenges as a new mom and support me through them. I’m able to be a new Jen, Mom Jen, with them as we share stories about our kids, husbands and lives. But they haven’t replaced my other friends. I still care about them. I still think about them and miss them immensely.

But like I said, it wasn’t just losing their friendship that was devastating to me. It was losing what our friendship represented. I had lost myself. I often don’t feel like Jen, the friend and person anymore. I am Jen, the Mommy. My pre-baby life is gone. Everything about me and my life has been redefined. Wine glasses? Try sippy cups. Going clothing shopping means buying from sales online for my sons. I’m in bed before I used to go out. And any alone, art or writing time is at the end of the day, after the kids are asleep and the chores are done (are the chores ever really done?).

Four and half years after having my first son (and a year after having my second), I’m in a much, much better place. A good place. And even though I’ve embraced motherhood, I still think about the kind of person I used to be. The kind of person who wasn’t concerned with nose or bottom wiping, eating schedules, or missed naps. Who was fun, adventurous and spontaneous. I see glimpses of her every so often, but I know she, like her former friendships, no longer really exists.

Related post: Mommy Friends

This piece was written by Jen Simon as a companion piece to her essay in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends. You can preorder the book here

10 Tips for Making Mom Friends

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mom-friends

Seven years ago, I passed a mom a note that said: “Will you be my friend? Circle yes, no, or maybe.” Not really. But my palms were as sweaty as a middle schooler’s passing a note folded with origami perfection to her latest crush. But the stakes were so much higher this time. If she rejected me, she rejected my son–my perfect, new boy. If she said thanks but no thanks, she probably thought I was a bad mother or a needy mother or an (insert adjective here) mother. If she circled maybe, it meant I still had to prove myself to her, and I was just too tired to prove anything. I regretted asking her to be my friend the second the stupid words tumbled out of my mouth. But then she said, “yes.” YES!

We had our first lunch date with our little ones in tow. They were tiny and sleepy in their carriers. We all hit it off.

I had a person. A like-minded comrade. Chemistry.

When lunch ended, we went our separate ways.

What next? What were the rules of this game? Would she call? Should I? Was this exclusive?

There aren’t any guidebooks for making mom-friends, but thankfully we figured it out. In case you haven’t, here are some tips for making mom friends..

1. Use the Children. You spotted her at the playground, and you can’t stop thinking about about the way she handled her toddler’s tantrum. You’re swooning over her packed lunch in non-BPA nesting bowls. Her baby wrap was flawlessly tied. Does she feel the same way about you? Throw your child into the sandbox with her little one to find out. Now causally make mom talk. “Isn’t she adorable?” Before your love interest leaves, tell her how much your little one adores her cherub. Reel her in. And boom. It begins.

2. Practice Momogamy (at first). There is nothing more awkward than being the third wheel at a party of inside jokes. Try one-on-one play-dates until the two of you are comfortable adding another and another and another. Before you know it, you’ll be calling yourselves a book club and serving wine.

3. Be Exhibitionists. Play in public. For conversation starters there will be plenty of other moms and their children to mock. No. Do not do that. If that sounded like a good idea, this isn’t going to work. Find a public place on neutral territory. The last thing you want is to hit it off with your mom crush only to have the kids marking their territory (with urine or saliva) and asserting ownership “That’s mine!” “No! Mine!” on every surface including each other.

4. Don’t ask her about that stain. By stain I mean any stain on her person or in her home (if you made it that far). No good will come of calling attention to the baby mucus on her pocket. And if the stain is in her home, you may as well call her an unfit mother and slam the door on your way out. Don’t do it if you want another date, and you do. You want another date. These dates preserve your sanity!

5. Don’t hit her up to babysit. You’re not in the market for a caretaker here, you’re looking for a friend. A surefire way to sink this ship is to ask this mother to take care of your children. She’s got enough going on with her own. Did you notice those stains?!

6. Split before dinner. If dinnertime at your house always runs smoothly, please don’t tell me or anyone else. Your potential mom friend may not be so lucky. Scratch that, if she lives in the world of toddlers, she’s not. It’s nothing short of herding feral cats when the dinner plates touch the table. Get out before she has to explain herself.

7. Make a move. Call! You’re knee deep in laundry. The kids have been crying all day. You’ve got a mortgage payment of late fees for the library. You’re hungry. Your son scored a touchdown. Your daughter is forward-facing now. Call. A person who relates to this, all of this, is what you’re looking for. Call.

8. Use your words. Big into attachment parenting? Trying the Cry it Out Method? Vegetarian? Avoid citing the latest research or any research, really. It’s not a job interview. And while we all understand there’s an impulse to show you still have at least two functioning brain cells, save the MLA citations for another time. Use your own words.

9. Leave the Exes at the door. It’s probably not the time to hate on your previous mom fails. Unload on the hubs until this friendship takes root.

10. Know when to cut and run. Ladies, not every relationship is meant to be. The beauty of having children is that you have a built-in excuse. It’s always nap time somewhere. Is that a hive on your child’s cheek? Did you forget her favorite snack? Did you see your son’s nose run? There’s no shame in it.

Of course, when you know it’s meant to be, it is. When you enter the friend zone, and you’ve had a candlelit dinner for two or a couples massage, by all means forget the rules. Congratulations. It’s true love!

Related post: The Rules for Visiting a New Mom

10 Tips on How to be a Good Friend

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10 Tips on How to be a Good Friend

I have spent the last five years mastering the art of  how to be a good friend to other mothers. From eating Crisco straight out of the can to leaving floaters in my guest toilet, I can say that I’m a better friend now than I’ve ever been. Lucky for you, I’m sharing my top 10 tips…

1. Be an average-sized person. Do you like hanging out with really skinny people that make you feel fat? Me neither. That’s why I eat ho hos and bon bons on a daily basis. I never want to make my friends feel fat while they’re hanging out with me. Sometimes I get a little too thin, and when I see this happening, I just eat more Crisco straight out of the can. It’s the least I can do for my friends.

2. Don’t do a great job cleaning your house. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m at someone’s house, and I see a little counter-top clutter, I feel more comfortable. And – a dirty toilet or fingerprints on the bathroom mirror? Thank the Lord – I feel like a normal person. I work hard to make sure my house is never too clean for guests – and I can always count on my dog or one of my kids to make it smell like a giant fart, which I think is a nice touch.

3. Make sure your kids scream bloody murder while you’re on the phone. My friends know that when they talk to me on the phone, they’re going to hear my kids yelling and screaming. I like to think of this as a special gift I can give my friends. It either makes them feel totally normal when their kids are also screaming in the background. OR – it makes them feel like they are great mothers because their kids are NOT screaming in the background.

4. Burn dinner when you have dinner guests. When you have dinner guests, it’s usually a good idea to royally mess up something – just to make everyone feel like great cooks themselves.One Thanksgiving I purposely left the bag of guts inside the turkey and made a big show of taking it out of the cooked bird while we were at the dinner table. Everyone immediately felt like they were better than me. Mission accomplished.

5. Never look too put together. This is a tough one for me, because I tend to be fairly put together. But before I leave the house, I try to mess myself up a little bit so that no one feels dumpy when they’re with me. Sometimes I smear a little baby poop on my pants or on my shirt. I’ve been known to tear holes into the knees of my jeans… you get the idea.

6. Forget your kid somewhere. I haven’t done this yet, but I’m keeping it in my back pocket in case of a friendship emergency. Forgetting your kid somewhere pretty much guarantees that no matter which one of your friends is having a bad day – they’re still a better mother than you!

7. Update your Facebook status wisely. You will never see me posting things on Facebook like, “My kids LOVE picking up their toys” or “Oh my gosh, I have to buy myself smaller jeans (again)!”  No, you won’t. Because I am a good friend. Instead, I post things like: “Man – this lice just won’t go away.” or “Bedbugs suck!” or “How did I manage to gain 15 pounds this week?” Be a good friend – think before you Facebook.

8. Stop cleaning your minivan. Minivans were made for smashed goldfish crackers, spilled milk, stinky socks, and maybe a little vomit. Once I stopped cleaning mine, my friends felt normal. And I found that it helped to ward off any minivan jealousy from my friends that haven’t gotten theirs yet.

9. Wear your pajamas everywhere. No matter what I’m wearing, I feel amazing when I see another mother wearing Sponge Bob pajama pants while she’s dropping her child off at preschool. Seriously. You want to be a great friend? Rock the PJs in public!

10. Leave some floaters. I always make sure I have a few floaters in the guest toilet, especially when company is coming over. Nothing makes people feel like they’re a better all-around person than me than finding a few floaters in my potty.

Some are easier to implement than others, but once you get the hang of it, we can all be better friends!

 

The Six Mothers Every Mother Hates

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Mothers Every Mother Hates

Moms rule. Everyone knows this. You could scour the earth and never find a group of women more dedicated, tireless, giving and loving than the mothers of the world.

And yet…

Who among us can honestly say they don’t get frustrated with certain types of mothers? Let’s call them “motherhood extremists.” They are peppered throughout our daily lives – in classrooms, on committees, at the grocery store, at sports events – those mothers who push our buttons and work our nerves.

We don’t like to admit it, but they make us feel a little, um…inferior in certain respects while at the same time leaving us with a tinge of guilt for becoming annoyed with their behavior. They are, after all, other moms. Aren’t we all on the same team? Shouldn’t we be supportive of one another? Sure…up to a point – the point, for instance, at which one of them brings camera-ready pilgrim cookies with articulated limbs to the classroom Thanksgiving feast while loudly commenting on how surprisingly easy it was to move around the kitchen on crutches.

Yep, that’s where that point stops.

Of course we grudgingly admire some aspect of these ladies’ parenting personalities – we admit that up front. But could we perhaps dial it down a smidge? For instance…

1. The Germinator: Woe to the bacterium that comes within striking distance of the Germinator’s 50-gallon drum of hand sanitizer. Like a one-woman Centers for Disease Control, this mom issues health bulletins, charts outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in the public parks and has been known to send her child to birthday parties wearing a festive germ mask. When you are in the presence of the Germinator, you have an uncontrollable urge to wipe your child’s nose, whether it’s funky or not.

2. Mayhem Mom: The Tasmanian Devil of parenting, Mayhem Mom is surrounded by chaos at all times, yet never seems to be flustered by it. The last time you talked with her, she was holding two screaming children and calmly segued from telling you that her roofer had just left town after ripping the shingles off her kitchen into musing about what she should pack for tomorrow’s road trip to Mount Rushmore, all while her Labradoodle retched into her stroller basket. All it takes to tip you into critical fail, on the other hand, is the discovery that you accidentally grabbed the wrong soy latte off the counter at Starbucks.

3. The Nutritionista: You didn’t know you were feeding your family appalling crap until the Nutritionista came into your world. (Okay, maybe you didn’t know just how appalling it was.) You’ve been skittish around this mom since you got shamed for bringing non-organic rice crispy treats to school for snack and things really went downhill when she saw that Red Bull roll out of your purse at soccer practice. Now you’ve made a special trip to Whole Foods to try and figure out what to feed her child when he comes over for a playdate tomorrow because you’ve got a feeling the usual beef jerky and juice box aren’t going to cut it.

4. Cool Mom: Cool Mom seems to exist solely to make all the other moms (especially you) look like uptight buzzkills. Children of all ages are drawn to her world without boundaries like tweens to moody vampires. Wear the tube top, Daisy Dukes and over-the-knee boots to school on Friday? “Chloe’s mom lets her!” Eat banana splits in the car on the way to Grandma’s? “Chloe’s mom lets her!” A co-ed “just friends” sleepover for your 14th birthday? “Chloe’s mom let her!” The unspoken question: Why can’t you be cool like Cool Mom?

5. The Mouthpiece: This mom purports to be the spokesperson for any and every organization your child is affiliated with, including schools, sports teams and civic organizations. She considers it her sacred duty to have the inside scoop on scandals, staff changes and ongoing grievances and prides herself on her network of highly placed sources. Every conversation with the Mouthpiece leaves you with the uneasy feeling that she knows your child’s grades before the report card ever comes home…as well as your credit score.

6. Immaculate Mom: Blessed be Immaculate Mom for nary a harsh nor unkind word has ever crossed her tastefully glossed lips. When you and your disgruntled mom friends are in a cluster, grousing about the epic crabbiness of the school’s Spanish teacher, Immaculate Mom will pop her head in and say something like, “Perhaps Señor Hofbrau was having a challenging day.” WTF? Nothing draws Immaculate Mom’s ire. You’ve seen her respond with a smile and kind word to rudeness that would have Mother Teresa throat-punching the parent in question. How does she do this? It’s…unnerving. You know, however, that one day she’s going to blow like Mount St. Helens and when she does, you plan to be there, capturing every last F-bomb in sweet hi-def.