Making mom friends

Having friendship issues since becoming a mom?
By Sarah Granger

It happens. Rest assured, it’s completely normal. We break it down, girlfriend-style.

Becoming a mother changes every ounce of your being, from your day-to-day life to your friendships—both old and new. “No life change is greater than that of becoming a mother. Not only do the circumstances of your life change in concrete and obvious ways (less discretionary time, more responsibility for another little person), but also your relationships, values and priorities are likely to change in ways you never could have imagined,” explains Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., psychologist, friendship expert and Professor of Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine.

It isn’t uncommon for a new mom to have a complete friendship overhaul as she is transforming into a mother.

In many cases, moms find themselves drifting away from old friends and forging new friendships that are often much different than those they had before. Cheri, a 29-year-old mom from New York, experienced this firsthand with the birth of her daughter, Olivia. “With my old friends, it was all about hanging out, drinking, doing things that young people do. But when I had Liv, I started wanting those things much less, and what I really wanted in a friend was someone who could relate, who could talk about things like diaper rash and cognitive development. My old friends and I just didn’t have anything in common anymore.”

“As circumstances change, so do our friendships,” says Levine. “Ironically, all the life-changing events that lead to new friendships—graduation, marriage, motherhood, divorce, career changes, geographical moves—may also lead to the demise of old ones. As our life situations and needs change, we may find that our prior friendships are out-of-sync with our current needs, and once-good friends may drift apart.”

The new crowd
Cheri did what a lot of moms do when looking for fellow mom friends—she hit the playground. After a week or so, she struck up a conversation with a mom she’d seen at the park on several occasions.

This mom introduced her to another mom, who then introduced her to a playgroup. Before she knew it, Cheri had a whole new group of friends who could relate to her lifestyle; instead of getting together and hitting cocktail parties, they went to story hour at the library. Remarkably, these new relationships were just as satisfying as her old ones, perhaps even more so.

“I went from sitting at home all the time, depressed and lonely, to having an awesome group of parents to communicate and talk ‘mom’ with,” says Cheri. “We even started a Girl’s Night Out once every two weeks, and we hire baby-sitters so we can have some real adult time—even though we pretty much end up always talking about our kids, it’s nice that we don’t have the actual responsibility of them for a few hours.”

The importance of pals
According to Levine, “Female friendships are so vital to our physical and emotional health that women, especially new moms, need to consciously set aside time for themselves and their friendships. With less time available, you’ll need to be more strategic in carving out time for female friends—and in choosing the friends with whom you want to spend your limited time.” If your old pals aren’t meeting your friendship needs, it might be time to move on. Which is completely normal, as Levine points out. “Not all friendships last forever—in fact, most don’t.”

“At every juncture in the life cycle, having close female friendships will enrich your life and that of your family,” says Levine. So at this point in your life, moving on to new friends is completely normal and may even be necessary. You don’t have to give up your old friends entirely, but you also shouldn’t feel obligated to maintain relationships that you don’t find emotionally fulfilling. If you surround yourself with people who make you happy and meet your needs, your whole family will thank you. Happy moms have happy babies, and friends who understand and love you can make an extreme difference in the contentment of a mother—whether you’ve known them for five years or five days.

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Posted in Emotional Health, imported, Pregnancy