Does anyone feel like the moment you became a mom, you let go of all your friendships? I do. I’m the I’ve-gotta-spend-every-extra-second-with-my-kids type. Turns out that’s actually not the best idea for good (and sane) parenting. I’m a working mom, so I naturally have some guilt about that, and I try to devote all my non-working time to my family.
Here’s Problem 1: I have neglected my friendships. There was a group of college friends I hung out with a lot pre-kids, but once I had a baby I slowly drifted out of communion with the group. Completely my own fault. I kept saying no to outings they would plan because I felt like I needed to be home with the baby, or that I didn’t want to leave my husband with both kids (even though he never made me feel bad about that). I quit calling my close friends to chat because I felt guilty about being on the phone when my kids were awake. I felt like I needed to give my kids my all. Okay, so that doesn’t make me a bad mom. But I’ve become a hopeless excuse for a friend. (Facebooking does not equal quality friend time!)
Here’s Problem 2: I have fairly frequent lapses in sanity. Since my husband coaches two different sports, there are stretches of time throughout the year in which I go solo with the kids for most waking hours. My patience fizzles out pretty quickly with a 3-year-old boy to wrangle and a red-headed-five-year-old-girl’s attitude to deal with. The Mommy Monster is not pretty. Or nice. And she doesn’t always make good decisions.
My therapist told me that there is a huge gap between “bad parents” and “good parents”, but a very small gap between “good parents” and “excellent parents.” He assured me that my incessant efforts to be an “excellent parent” may not be worth it. “You know that you are the primary caregiver and nurturer of your children,” he told me. “So it makes sense that you have to take care of yourself first so that you have the ability to take care of your kids.”
Um, so I can hang out with my friends again? Awesome!
Wait, um, well, I’ve probably hurt their feelings since I haven’t reached out to them in so long.
“Call your friends.”
Okay, well, then, here’s my list:
1) Continue to be a “good” mom (and wife, although this post isn’t really about that – don’t want Steven to think I’m leaving him out!)
2) Go out with the girls and have fun sometimes.
3) Reconnect with a few old friends that I’ve neglected.
4) Do something for me every now and then.
Okay. The sad truth is I didn’t have friends when I had Nathaniel- I just had coworkers that I still keep in touch with a bit (3.5yrs later!) but they’re not friends.
One of my best friends I met in childbirth class, her daughter was born the day before Nathaniel. Problem- they live in Woodbury, a 30min drive. The only other friend I see is my cousin Amanda Reynolds, and they live in Nashville (45mins). My best-bestest friend, Sarah Pollard, moved to NC and so we talk when we can but with four crazy boys b/w the two of us, it’s nearly impossible.
I don’t have any friends in Murfreesboro and spend from 8am to 9pm M-F completely by myself with my kids. Some days, the only adult communication during that time is the cashier at Publix.
I’m not trying to drum up sympathy, I chose this life, but I understand. I feel that Mom friendships are just as hard because we’re trying to take care of our homes, kids, husbands, and still find time for ourselves. I haven’t been to a MNO in a year and a half because of lack of childcare options. How sad is that?? *sigh*
So, can I join the “bad friend” club??? I could be the president!!
I was actually about to delete this post for several reasons, one of which was because of my SAHM friends/readers. I mean, at least I get to go work every day, but you and they are pretty much with their kids 24-7. What am I complaining about?
And seriously, I think I do get in things for myself sometimes. I mean, I don’t think I’ve been to an MNO this year, for either childcare or distance reasons. (I know what you mean about feeling isolated. All my friend from church live in Franklin or M’boro, and I live in Gallatin). But last Friday after work I went out to Chili’s with three coworkers for a couple of hours. I have a friend from my old job that I meet up with every couple of months to have coffee and chat. There’s the occassional get-together with families from church (like when we went to your house- fun! We need to have people over soon). Also, I take hot baths and read to relax. I went and got a very expensive and selfish writing degree, which gave me a week away from home with some great writers twice a year.
Also, i kinda felt like this post might have smacked of holier-than-thouness. Like “I’m all about my kids!” Look at me right now: they are awake and watching TV while I fool around on the computer. Sigh!
At any rate, I am sorry if I offended you. If anyone needs some time to herself, it’s you! You are a fabulous mom and I hate that you feel isolated. I agree that it’s so hard to keep friendships up at this stage. The kids need so much attention and nurturing. Thanks for your feedback.
Oh, no no no no no!!!! I was not trying to one-up you and say I have it worse. My goodness!! I just wanted you to know I understand isolation. My biggest battle (other than saying too much!) is loneliness. Some of it is my own doing (no one would really like me so why should I get to know them?- crap!) and some of it is just my life right now.
I wish I could help you, wish I had the magical answer! Just know I’m here if you need a sympathetic ear!
from 1 to 4 I think you are in the right track. But I think that your sessions with your shrink are not about neglecting your friends or being a bad mama or not pampering yourself or not going out with your friends. It´s about feeling guilty. Those are only symptoms, or maybe it´s not symptom the right word, maybe manifestations or feelings of disatisfaction are better words. Whatever word you chose, it goes deeper and you, only you, know the root.
It´s only natural to feel overwhelmed with motherhood and a husband that has to travel and to keep a job and to be a good friend and a good daughter and a good person. So many roles that we have to fulfill in this society. But you feel guilty and that is not good for you and for your loved ones.
I´m sure you are a good mother but nobody is perfect. Who can blame you if in a given day you didn´t have the patience to deal with a tantrum? . I´m sure you are a responsible worker but I´m also sure you have made a mistake at work, and nobody got hurt because of that. I´m sure you are a good friend that right now needs good friends by her side. I´m sure you want to be a better person but you are good just the way you are. Don´t feel guilty for not being the picture of perfection. We are human beings and we screw up. But we are also good hearted so we know how to correct what we have done wrong or we feel it was wrong.
You are doing fine … and if you want to do better just get rid of that feeling of guilt that is unfounded. You are a person who cares, I can sense that. And that´s a quality difficult to find. You must be proud of yourself.
Thank you so much for your kind words! You are right, I have a lot of unnecessary guilt. I appreciate your encouragement!