There are women out there who claim they don’t need friends because they have their families. Don’t get me wrong, having a great relationship with your immediate family is important. You should be close with your partner and children. But friendships bring so much more to your life than your family can. Your friends know you in ways your family never can. Quite simply, my best friends make me a better mother. Having friendships outside of motherhood remind me there’s more to my life than being someone’s mom.
I can’t imagine my life without my friends. They’re the ones who keep me sane when my kid is driving me bonkers. During those moments when I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, they bring me back. My friends are the tether I need to keep me functioning. Their friendship is the thing that buoys me during the hardest points of motherhood. Because I know that no matter what, I have them. Even when I feel like a terrible mother, they remind me I’m not.
I’m a single mom, so I don’t have a partner to turn to. But even when I was in a relationship, I could never make them my entire world. Sometimes being in a relationship is hard. And if you pour your entire being into that person, what do you do when things aren’t so great? Who do you turn to? I don’t understand how you can find solace in the same people who are actively driving you bananas. Don’t you need a break sometimes? Even if it’s just a text to someone that’s nothing but angry face emojis?
As much as I love my son, I can’t imagine not having anyone in my life but him. He’s six, and while he’s a great little sidekick, he’s not much for conversation. He doesn’t want to hear about my day-to-day stress, and I sure as fuck don’t care about Power Rangers. It’s not that I don’t love spending time with him either. He’s honestly an amazing kid who I actually enjoy spending time with. Just because he’s an awesome kid doesn’t mean he’s capable of giving me the kind of support a friend gives. And he shouldn’t have to. When I tell him he’s my best friend, which I do often, I’m referring to our bond, not that he’s my literal best friend. He’s a great son, but a shit friend.
It’s so easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day grind of motherhood. We’ve all been there and done it. Many of us make a conscious effort to keep our heads above water. Not giving yourself the space to maintain friendships outside of motherhood means not having a way to save yourself. You need those spaces where you can take off the mom hat and leave your baggage for a bit. Having all of your relationships within your immediate family means you have no one to take your load off. When you can pick up the phone and reach out to a good friend, it changes everything. You need those people who are going to be there for you. That’s not always the members of your family. Try they might, but they need you for what you mean to the family unit. Real friendships aren’t like that.
Being a single mom who works full time doesn’t give me much free time. My friends understand that though, and meet me where I’m at. Sometimes that looks like emails instead of texts so we can both focus on our work. Other times it looks like five hour phone calls on a Saturday night after my kiddo has gone to bed. It’s not about how we do it — nurturing our connection is always the most important. Those times where we really get to focus on our friendships fill my heart. They remind me that I’m an entire person and I matter too. It’s so easy to forget that in the endless grind of laundry and making dinner and helping my kid with homework.
My friendships honor those parts of my life. How can we not talk about my kiddo at least a little? But they will ask me questions about the parts of life my son isn’t included in. Even a question as simple as asking me about work is enough to take me out of the grind of motherhood. From there, it’s only a matter of time before we’re talking about our latest favorite Netflix binges. Between the suggestions for new shows to watch there is space for real meaningful connection. More often than not, I don’t realize how much I need that until it’s happening.
Maintaining adult friendships is hard AF, especially when you have a family. So I can understand the urge to just say “screw it” and not make an effort to keep up with your friends. But your friends know you in ways that your family never can. They know the version of you that isn’t someone’s mom or someone’s partner. Your friends know you as the whole entire person and not just the compartmentalized version of yourself. Making sure you reach out for that connection becomes imperative in those moments where motherhood is kicking your ass.
Our families love us, sure. But not in the same ways our friends do. When you have good friends who want what’s best for you, that’s life changing. Because they will be the ones you turn to when your family is sucking the life out of you. And while it may be hard to keep up with them, if they’re real friends, they understand. Chances are, they’re going through the same things. And that’s what’s great about having friendships out of your family. There will always be someone who understands.