Your tribe. Your village. Your community. Your support system. Your homies and peeps. Whatever you call them, one thing every mom needs is other people to lean on–close friends, nearby extended family, neighbors, and/or casual acquaintances who can listen to you spill your guts, watch your sleeping toddler in a pinch while you pick up your missed-the-bus-again kindergarten-er, or lend you a diaper in an emergency.
Of course, your tribe does more than just help out in emergencies. Ever noticed how much more tolerable a long rainy afternoon is when you can chat away with another mom while the kids play, or how much easier it seems to clean the house when you’ve got a friend to keep you company? No doubt about it: having a tribe of your own is a vital part of happy motherhood, and I feel so strongly about it I devoted a whole chapter to it in The Happiest Mom.
Some of us are naturally social butterflies with large groups of acquaintances and casual friends, while others prefer to nurture a small handful of really close friendships. Either approach is fine, but are you getting all your needs for friendship and support met by your group, large or small?
- If something major happened to you, who could you confide in?
- If your babysitter quit without giving her two weeks–or heck, two hours–notice, is there somebody you could call to pinch-hit?
- It’s been raining for three straight days, the kids are wild-eyed and you’re considering gnawing off your own hand. You gotta get out of the house, but the thought of facing the children’s museum alone is more than you can bear. Do you have a friend you can call up to meet you there?
- Your baby just took his first steps, and you’re dying to crow about it. After Dad, who do you call?
- You’re thinking about messaging an old boyfriend–you know, the one you had a heart-breaking split from and who is still a bit of a tender spot in the recesses of your heart–on Facebook “just to say hi.” Who can you go to who will beat sense into your head before you do something stupid?
- You’re heading to a weekend in the Hamptons with a couple of really stylish bloggers and you’re panicking because your wardrobe is pretty much jeans and cardigans these days. Who could you ask for style advice? (This really happened to me. I sent a panicked email to my friend Shana of Ain’t No Mom Jeans, who sent me a super helpful list of pieces I should look for that worked with my budget, sense of style, and the fact that I live in a small town without a lot of shopping options. By the way, Ain’t No Mom Jeans is up for a Bloggie–voting ends at 10 PM tonight, Sunday the 2oth. ) This may be the same friend who gives you her honest feedback about how a pixie cut will look on you or whether you should reconsider wearing those teetering heels to a church function.
Maybe you have several people who you could call on in each situation. But if you’re like most of us, you’re probably super-covered in a few areas but spread thin in others. In The Happiest Mom I describe five types of friends every mom needs:
- The “there in a heartbeat” pal. You need her, she’s there–period. If you’ve got one or two of these friends in your life, consider yourself lucky! (Brene Brown might call this your “move a body” friend.)
- The “right where you are” buddy. Your kids are about the same age, and you’re in the trenches together. This is the friend you can always chat with about whatever is going on in your life, whether it’s teething or teen texting, without worrying about boring her…because she’s right there with you.
- The BTDT buddy. She’s a little bit futher down the path you’re on, and like a wise older sister can give you much-needed reassurance, such as “It’s highly unlikely that your son will still be in diapers in first grade, no matter how much he resists potty-training at age 3.”
- The “tells it like it is” ally. Maybe her honesty is annoying sometimes, but hey, we all need to be told what’s up from time to time. The trick with this ally is making sure it’s somebody who really loves you and has your best interests at heart, like your sister or somebody from the “there in a heartbeat” category. If this person just likes to criticize for the fun of it, a) she’s no ally and b) stop listening to her.
- The child-free friend. Most of us have at least one of these left over from our lives before children, but be honest: have you let the friendship slide? Or maybe you just think this friend doesn’t understand your life these days. But just because she doesn’t have the inside scoop on motherhood doesn’t mean you can’t find common ground–it just may take a little more understanding on both sides.
Do you have someone–preferably more than one someone in case the first someone is out of town!–to fill each role? Would you add any types of friends to this list? In your world, does the same small group of buddies or family members fill multiple roles in your life, or do you spread it out among a larger group?