Fostering Friendships in the Mama Years

Hey, friend! Hope you’re having a spectacular Monday! I’m staring down an insanely busy week and honestly just hoping I keep it all together until I get through it.

Which is probably how I could describe my approach to a lot of things in life. I’m just out here wingin’ it like everyone else, y’all.

This burning question has been on my mind and heart for awhile, though, and I’m interested in others’ perspectives because I feel like I can’t be the only one.

How do we nourish longstanding friendships in the mama years?

I have a handful of friends that come to mind here. I would absolutely consider them near and dear friends, but the reality is, I haven’t seen some of them in well over a year. Some even longer.

We text. We tag each other on Facebook. We share memes and comment on each others’ photos and if you ask any of us, we are the best of friends. We love each other and in a time of need, we’d be there, no questions asked.

But I can’t honestly say that I’m doing the best at nurturing those relationships. I adore these sweet friends of mine, but we’re all in different stages of life. We’re less connected than when we had more things in common.

This isn’t a subtle putdown of anyone in my life, y’all. It’s the plain truth. Some of my dearest friends are grandmas, some are parenting middle-schoolers, some aren’t parents at all, and some are moving into an empty-nesting phase of life. I’m a late bloomer over here, so I’m elbow deep in the trenches with preschool parenting. It’s been absolutely all-consuming over the last four years.

I knew as soon as I typed that out that it would feel like an excuse, so bear with me, ok? Our family is currently long-distance due to work opportunities, so all of the parenting falls to me. Sometimes J’s able to come home on weekends, but often not. And y’all, my hat is completely off to the single mamas and daddies out there doing this alone. I feel some of your pain and I salute you for carrying on.

But I think sometimes in the full and total care of our babies, we shuffle some important things to the bottom of the stack that probably shouldn’t be there. We might deal with the ones that pop up as pressing issues, sure. I mean, eventually, we’ve got to make dental appointments for ourselves and do something about our hair. But connection with people who have contributed so much depth to your journey? The ones who nourish your soul? That’s one of ‘those things’ that probably shouldn’t sit at the end of our to-do lists, but it does.

And it stays there for weeks, months, and years before we realize it.

I’ve seen lots of posts and articles and memes about friendships during parenthood, so I know I’m not alone in recognizing that it’s a real thing. I feel like you can break those commentaries into two general themes, one being ‘parenting is hard, so do what’s easiest for you at the time’ and the other being ‘don’t forget to take time for yourself, you totally deserve it’.

I’m somewhere in the middle. I want to foster connections with my friends, which absolutely supports the mental and emotional wellbeing I deserve. But I acknowledge that doing that requires actual effort from me, a harried and stressed-to-the-max mama just trying to keep it all afloat.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay to say that it’s hard to do. But it’s not okay to just… not try, just because it’s inconvenient.

So here’s me, Listy McListerson, making a list of ways that I can consciously change this pattern in my own life:

Set up meet dates WAY in advance.

Set up meet dates for activities that make sense for us (walking together at a local trail, or a restaurant with a playplace so that the kids can run wild while we chat).

If one of us needs to cancel, reschedule immediately (rather than a vague ‘let’s reschedule soon’).

Show up. Birthday parties, meaningful events – don’t skip because we haven’t seen each others’ faces in awhile.

Include our kids in our connection points. I want EV to bond with these sweet friends every bit as much as I have. They’re honorary family members!

I’m sure there’s a lot of other ways to stay connected, since I’m just grabbing at the tip of the iceberg at this point.

What about y’all? Anyone out there have some great ways to maintain meaningful friendships during the mama years?

Have a great week, friends!

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