I sat in my living room couch consoling a woman I met weeks prior at the local park. As our toddler boys built a colorful tower with Legos, she droned on and on about her failing marriage and I longed for a real “mom friend.” I patted her on the back while my son now happily raced after her son, and I knew I had to make a tough choice: continue to play the role of “Dear Abby” with my new “mom friend” or quit forcing a friendship just because we both procreated.
For 4 long years (ahem, since my son was born) I’ve attempted to build genuine friendships with other mothers. It’s been a struggle, it isn’t easy creating bonds as adult women and it only becomes more difficult with age. So, how can mothers connect in an authentic way? As moms, how can we cultivate friendships that aren’t just for the sake of our kids?
According to parenting coach and author, Stephanie Fleary, it begins with authenticity. Fleary advises moms to keep it real and to “be open and vulnerable about mommy experiences when reaching out to connect with other moms.” You should also be intentional about the kind of women you want to befriend. “Think about the friendships that you want to create,” she continues, “and remember to find friends who share your parenting style and values.”
Your commonalities don’t just have to be about your children. To create long-lasting friendships, you should both have an interest in shared hobbies. “Having something in common with your potential mom friend is a great way to break the ice,” shares Schenelle Acevedo, the founder of Brooklyn Active Mama. If you love the same reality show, chat about the recent episode or the latest gossip, or if you’re both foodies you can share your favorite restaurants or recipes. The point is to connect naturally and to diversify your friend group to help you cope with life’s challenges and wins.
But wait, where do we find these mothers? Are they hanging out in front of a lemonade stand hoping to find a friend? Not exactly, but you can start by connecting with moms that live nearby. “Most often in the community that you live in there are moms that share your interests and are most likely to have children who know your kids,” Fleary suggests. That’s especially the case if you have school-aged children. That’s when you put on your big mami draws and take initiative! Whether you interact at the school bus or during pick up/drop off, ask for her phone number. Too bold for you? Connect with her on social media.
Speaking of the ‘Gram, technology is an amazing tool to meet other moms. There are apps, like Peanut, that were created for mothers to meet. You can also join local Facebook groups or Meetup Groups centered around a topic that’s meaningful to you. Or, you can reconnect with old friends via social media. Over the years and through various life stages we often lose touch with our former friends. But we don’t always have to start from scratch when seeking mom friends. Fleary suggests rebuilding “friendships that may have dwindled over the years” and to “check in on friends from high school or college who have children.”
And what of the mom friend that you really enjoy but you’re struggling to build a deeper bond with? Saba Harouni Lurie, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of Take Root Therapy, recommends giving of yourself by taking “the first step in opening up and deepening your friendship. Just make sure the other person wants to move in that direction, too.”
Acevedo also weighs in and suggests taking some time and space apart from your mom friend, just like you would when in a disconnected romantic relationship. “Allow the mom to feel more comfortable around you,” she adds, “eventually you will find commonalities and will be on your way to the Mom Friend Zone.” And that, mom friends, is a great place to be.