Recently, I was lucky enough to go on a little family vacation with my husband, baby, and toddler. Given the ages of our kids, we went to a lot of parks. When I am in my own city, I’m always looking out for potential mom friends. Because let’s be honest, being a mom can be isolating, so mom friends are a must! Since I wasn’t on the prowl for new friends (I need mom friends, but preferably not hours away from my home), I was able to do some hardcore observing.
I got to take my toddler to three parks while my husband hung out at our vacation rental with the napping baby. So let’s talk about the three different parks and what I learned.
Park #1 was actually a park/splash pad combo. I was feeling excited about that, but my toddler was not into it. She thought she was interested, but when it came down to it, that little lady was not going to get wet. So we went to the completely deserted playground. We were alone which was kind of nice, but I also felt a little lonely. It made me thankful for the mom friends I’ve got back home.
Feeling alone (even when you have your little darling or darlings around) can be kind of rough. Being alone with your little person is definitely not a bad thing. In fact, I enjoyed that we got the whole playground to romp around on. But there is a difference between being alone and feeling alone.
Being alone can be great! (That rare shower I get to myself when no one tries to interrupt is definitely something I cherish!) Being alone can be something you do for yourself. You might choose to be alone so you can go shopping (retail therapy, yes please!), or you might want to be alone so you can finish a good book. You can be alone and love it.
The tough part though is when you feel alone: when you have to miss out on fun things with friends because you have bedtime, or when you have to leave the get-together early because your child had a meltdown, or even when you have friends that don’t have kids, and they don’t quite understand when you actually want to skip the night out in favor of movie night with the family.
It can be isolating. It can feel like a really big job that no one else quite understands. And even when you are around other parents, it can still feel weird, which brings me to park number two.
Since the first park (splash pad) was a bit of a miss, I decided to try another park in this new city. This park had a wading pool for little kids, and I thought it would be more of my little lady’s style. She was pumped about it! But alas, the wading pool was closed for some unknown reason. So off to the playground we went.
As we got to the playground, I noticed another group of moms approaching with their little kids. Many of their children were the same age as mine, and the moms looked to be similar in age to me. They were smiling and looked like they were enjoying their time. But everything else felt different!
I did not feel nearly as cool as they were. This group of moms just looked like they had it figured out. Their clothes were on point, their nails were done, and they were super fit. They were laughing super hard together and talking about their next big event. And although I felt like a junior high girl gawking at the popular girls, I also just didn’t feel like I could relate to them very well.
Embarrassingly, I also found myself kind of judging them. I hated that I had to go to a “me” vs. “them” thing. Anyway, I just sat there watching as our little girls played and thinking way too deeply about mom friends. Then, I looked up and the daughter of the coolest mom of them all is having a super minor conflict with my daughter.
Cool mom came over and tried to help her little one “use nice hands” and then she apologized like crazy to me. Then we go on to have this super genuine, relatable conversation about how hard it is to train a two-year-old to be kind. She went on about how she’s not sure she’s doing everything right, and questions if she should change how she interacts with her daughter. I was sincerely surprised (but I shouldn’t have been) by how easy it was to talk with this mama.
1. Not every mom is going to be one of your mom friends. Moms come in all different shapes and sizes. We have different preferences and things that we really care about. There are moms that will only feed their children grass-fed, organic, free-range turkey burgers and there are moms that just ordered their child their third McDonald’s burger this week.
Some moms you are going to jive with and some you just aren’t. You kind of have to figure out what kind of mom you are and then it will be easier to find other awesome mom friends.
2. You cannot judge a book by its cover, nor a mom by her outfit. I was so certain this mom and I had very little in common because she looked trendier than me and seemed to have it all together. I assumed she looked down on me for my old shorts and my child’s unkempt hair. But when we interacted, it was clear that we had a lot more in common than I thought. So let your initial impression of another mama be just that: an impression. Give her a chance and get to know her, she might surprise you!
3. Every mom that is in the trenches, raising humans is doing their best! It’s easy to see that mom who just lost her cool in the middle of the grocery store and think, “I would never do that”. (I’ve been on both sides of that scenario!) Or you might see the mom who must have taken four hours to prepare her little darlings homemade, hand-crafted lunch and think, “I’m never going to be that good”.
Honestly, I think all mamas look around and either feel inadequate or unfairly superior. But it’s so important to remember we are all out here, trying to do the best we can to raise amazing little humans! Even if the mom you just saw across the playground is doing something you would never dream of doing, give her a break.
And if you want some insight on my favorite tips to up your mom game, check out my post here.
At the third and final park, there was just one other family there. It was a mom and her three kids. Her sweet little boys INSTANTLY started talking to my little lady and my girly wasn’t so sure about it. It was obvious to this mama that my little girl was feeling a little shy, so she gently coached her boys to let her warm up.
We also brought a small toy to this park, and one of her sons was super eager to play with it. This made for an easy talking point, as we helped our kids navigate playing together and sharing.
And honestly, within moments I could tell we had similar mom vibes. We spoke to our children in the same way, looked similar in age, and we definitely weren’t as cool as the mom group from park #2. We continued to chat as we helped our kids out, and as we were leaving the park, she said, “maybe we will see you around here again”. That felt like a big mom win!
Finding mom friends is doable if you put yourself out there. (Yes that sounds like dating advice, but I promise it’s real in the mom friend world, too!)
As we talked about earlier (from park #2) not every mom is going to be one of your mom friends. It just doesn’t work like that! You are going to come across moms that just aren’t your style for whatever reason.
But the beauty is, you can find mom friends that you love! It is not impossible, but it sometimes is a little daunting. The biggest step is just trying to connect with other moms. You have to put the mom vibes out there and see what you get back. There are other moms out there that think like you. There are other moms out there that prioritize the same things you do, and there are moms out there that hate the same things you hate.
You just have to go out there and find them! If you want some practical steps to making mom friends, I dig this article from Parents Magazine that walks you through some easy steps to make mom friends.
A Final Thought
As I was reflecting on my interactions with all these other moms, I got to thinking about the mom friends I already have.
I have a few mom friends that are super crunchy, some full-time working mamas, some stay-at-home moms, some helicopter parents, and one that has four crazy boys. My real-life mom friends are all over the place! So even though I felt out of place with the group of moms at the first park, and felt really similar to the mom at the last park, I don’t really want to only be friends with moms that are just like me.
In fact, I’ve come to really appreciate being friends with moms that don’t parent like me. I learn the most from those moms. If we only ever gravitate toward mom friends that are just like us, we won’t learn new strategies or think of new ways to relate to our kids.
Because I have a variety of mom friends, I have changed my outlook on raising kids. I do more art projects with my children because of one of my mom friends, and I try to really understand my little lady’s emotions instead of trying to brush them off because of another friend. Another mom is big on letting her toddler try to figure it out on their own, and I love that.
I would not be the same mom I am without having a variety of mom friends.
Please, leave a comment below with a story about how you found your mom friends.