Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Workable mommy friendships

The kids and I headed to the library yesterday morning, and we'd been there awhile when we had the pleasant surprise of seeing my friend K walk in with her three kids (who are all close in age to Chickie and Zoodle.)

We ended up all deciding to go to McDonald's for lunch. It was a madhouse (we'd forgotten school was out for the day), but we still had a great time. Somehow in between the hassles of feeding five kids (and ourselves), making sure little ones didn't wander off, dealing with potty times and diaper changing, and supervising time on the playscape, K and I managed to have some meaningful conversation.

She brought up how hard it can be for a busy mom to keep up relationships outside her family. (We're both lucky enough to have families that we like--we want most of our time to be spent with them!) We both agreed--we're in a season of our lives that just makes it hard to spend a lot of time with friends. And that's okay. The best type of friendship for a busy mom with young children to have is a low-maintenance friendship--one that can make the best of whatever time is spent together.

Now, I'll admit at times I've used the "low-maintenance friendship" thing as an excuse to be a hermit. That's not what I want. My girlfriends are important to me! But my most rewarding friendships are the ones in which...
  • Expectations are reasonable.
  • Playdates can be canceled at the last minute due to sick kids or frazzled mommies, and neither party takes it personally.
  • Phone calls can be interrupted a dozen times by the kids, and that's understood.
  • We make a point to get together even if it's very occasionally.
  • We both enjoy the time we do spend together, and we try not to feel guilty that we don't see each other more often.
I want to keep prioritizing my friendships in ways that work for my life--from hectic playdates, to occasional cups of coffee without kids. And when I'm given a gift...like running into a friend on a day that both of us have time for an impromptu trip to McDonald's--I want to happily take that gift, like I did yesterday. (Thanks, K!)


Unknown said...

Now that sounds like a great friendship and a great day! I am having a hard time with being in a similar place in my life that spending time with friends, and making new friends is hard. I yearn for more mom friends but don't have the time to seek them out. It's tough, but I have the best buddy a mom could ask for in my son.

Dave said...

I think this goes for the couple in general. It's very hard to keep friends after you have a family. It's the main turning point in many people's lives that weeds out the good friends from the selfish ones.

A good friend will still be there when you don't have the time or energy to hang out every Friday night.

Unknown said...

I can definitely relate to this post. I only really keep in touch with a small group of friends and it is still hard work! It is even harder with my friends without kids, because they don't really "get" it or I feel like I am incoveniencing them when I have my toddler along. Anyway, it is definitely a thin line between hermit and keeping in touch.

Dani said...

I totally get this. I miss having those girlfriends that I had connected to my hips all the time in the single years, but honestly that is just not possible anymore with kids and families. It's definitely important to stick some time in there once in a while for the girls though. I just had a weekend with a few old friend that I haven't seen in five years! (But we live kinda far from one another) It was a great time and I'm glad that time away hasn't done too much damage to our relationships. Thanks for the post!

Kendra said...

i felt like it was such a fun serendipity, too. here's to pleasant surprises, meaningful conversations, friendships... oh, and lots (and lots) of little children. ;)

Megan Fletcher said...

I completely agree with you and think you have to change your expectations of friendship with every major life change you go through. At this point, that's been marriage, moving, becoming a mom, becoming a mom of many small children, moving again, and serving in ministry for me. With each change has come a change in friendships.

Right now, the friends I'm closest to are those who also have kids. Part of it is the understanding...interruptions, sick kids, struggles. We have a common ground. I have friendships with others, too, but it is a lot harder to fit them into an already busy life.

I think the biggest thing is to find people who desire a friendship but don't HAVE to have you all the time. Most of my friends have lots of other things going for them, too, so I'm not leaving them in the lurch to not hang out. They are busy with their own families or ministry or marriage or job or whatever it might be.

But, I do think it's very important for us to have friends during this season of having young children--even though it's hard and takes work. We can be the best encouragers because we're walking it too. And, we need an "outlet" to remind us that the struggles of right now will pass and we'll be in another stage of life soon.