When I speak on female friendship there are always mothers in the audience who raise their hands to ask questions about some of the unique challenges that moms face in that friend-making process. It's not that they don't have the desire for more meaningful friendships, but the obstacles can seem so much greater. So when a girlfriend of mine, Shamini Dhana, the founder of Dhana EcoKids, and mother of a beautiful seven-year old daughter, asked me if I'd be willing to share some friendship tips for the moms in her community, I hesitantly agreed.
I hesitated because, while I'm an aunt, a godmother, a step-mother, and a baby-sitter-- I am not a mother. Who am I to suggest tips and advice? Especially in 3-minute sound-bytes where I can't always get into the strategies, nuances, and research? But, Shamini assured me that since friendship is my area of expertise and study, that she felt I still had observations and insights that might be helpful. So with great humility, I answered her questions and we've created a 5-day series of video blogs about mothers and their friendships.
Here's our intro for the week that we did together:
The 3 Challenges that Moms Face with Friendship
Together we created 5 short video blogs (each about 2-3 minutes long) that she'll be posting on her site every day this week.
1st Challenge: Being friends with women at different life stages
This challenge includes moms wondering if they have enough in common with non-moms, moms whose kids are different ages, or moms who are empty-nest vs. those who still have kids at home-- the rub comes when we want friends who have similar schedules, challenges, and values. Nothing wrong with those desires!
Nonetheless, we are called to both create some friendships with women who can support our current life stages WHILE maintaining some friendships with women whose lives may not mirror ours. Here is the link to that video blog.
2nd Challenge: Not having enough time and/or energy to give to new friendships
We totally hear you! It's hard enough to find time and energy when we don't have children relying on us and wanting more from us. I can only imagine how exhausted you feel.
Nonetheless, we have to look at this since friendship is also the support you crave and the energy-giver you ultimately need. I readily admit up front that there is nothing I can do to fix this issue. I cannot give you an extra hour nor can I infuse you with more energy. There's no easy answer to this challenge.
All I can offer you is a sweet reminder that you can't just add friendship into your life. It will have to come at the expense of something. Every time. Priority doesn't only mean saying "yes I want good friends" it also means ranking it as higher than something else in your life. So find your peace with recognizing you can't do it all, and figure out what you are willing to not do "perfectly" in order to have more friendship.
And give yourself the gift of being justified with that choice as friendships bears out in research as one of the best energy boosters and health-savers you can do. It is good for you. So good for you. And that makes it ultimately good for you as mother. Go here to watch this 2-minute video.
3rd Challenge: Maintaining friendships when their kids don't like each other OR when they kids do but the adults don't. This happens all the time--either you don't love being with the parents/mom of your kids friend, or your kids don't like hanging out with your friend because they doesn't like her kids. What do you do when who your kids friends are differ from yours?
In this video blog I teach one of the most important friendship lessons about the difference between being "friendly" and being "friends." It's a lesson not only for moms to practice and teach their kids, but is a good lesson for all of us when we don't like our boyfriends friends or our husbands co-workers, etc. Certainly a short video blog answer can't get too deep or practical, but here is a quick video to help lay the foundation.
And then on Friday, the final day of this series, I'm going to post again since this is a video blog I've been wanting to share for a long time. It's been in my heart, and is the story I share when I speak to moms, but I haven't yet shared it publicly. So I'll post that one on Friday here at my blog as an ending to this series for moms.
I look forward to hearing from all of you-- the moms who have opinions, ideas, and responses; and even those of you who aren't moms but hopefully still get something out of the posts since really, the challenges may have different faces for moms, but they are really the same challenges we all face.
My blessing for moms today is that you would feel supported, loved, and connected in this world even though our culture has you doing more than ever, doing it faster, and doing it without as much help from families. May you find the friendships you seek.