A great friend of mine shared this graphic on Facebook and, if I had been drinking a glass of Shalom, I would’ve choked and sputtered:
Can I get an “Amen”??!!
Seriously. If you have children, you have most likely found yourself “there”. It’s that place where you mentally are telling yourself that this is soooo good for growing your child’s social interaction skills while glancing at your phone for the time every 2 minutes. It’s the awkward “mom” conversation, where you feel inclined to remark on some attribute for every child present. It’s the sitting on the floor in a misshapen circle, keeping your eyes only on your kid and having absolutely nothing to say. It’s the dreaded play date.
Now, this is typically the situation for the first child. By kid #2 and on, you’ve hopefully established a legitimate group of mom friends that you hang out. These are friends that you use the term “play date” for appearances only – it is, in fact, an excuse to take a breather from your child(ren) while they are otherwise distracted by their “playmates”. It’s the reason to order Chinese takeout and commiserate over some Sweet & Sour Chicken and Chicken Chop Suey. And, if one or more of you aren’t pregnant, the wine glasses inevitable come out as you let your toddlers figure out “diplomatic skills” over who gets to play with the big storage bin that has absolutely nothing in it. Yet, somehow, it’s the desired object of the minute and the 2 year olds will play tug-of-war and scream violently over “who had it first”. At this point, you and your mommy tribe shake your heads and add a splash more of wine to the glass!
These play dates are judge-free zones. There are no awkward moments if one kid bites another (we all somehow get one child who is a biter – and as moms WE are the ones who end up feeling guilty if our kid bites another? Oh right, because I’m totally encouraging my 14 month-old to bite anyone who upsets her…). There are no disapproving stares over how you discipline your kid – because more likely than not, we all are pretty much disciplining in the same way. There is no running to your child’s rescue because a toy was taken out of his-her hand – it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, after all! And if one of us wants a glass of wine at 2:05 in the afternoon, we don’t argue – because we’ve all been there.
We’ve all had those days where you dejectedly look at the clock and see that it’s only 11:10am and you are more than ready for it to be your children’s 7:30pm bedtime. The hours drag on, the fighting and yells of “No” continue, the laundry remains unfolded, and the exhaustion kicks in. Having those moms by your side to share in the struggles of the day is what can make them bearable.
These women are what we affectionately call our “mommy tribe”. They see you at your worst some days and help lift you up. They simply get it. They get you and accept you for who you are. They know your strengths and your annoyances, and accept you all the same. It may only be one or it may be five – but these women give you love and support in a very (special) time of life. They give without expectations of receiving anything in return. They offer their help when you need it most. They’re there when you text last minute plans and they’re up for it. They respond in turn when you randomly vent-text at 9:45pm.
Those play dates aren’t so much for your kids as they are for you. They set the stage for the future – future girl’s nights, future family vacations, future reunions. Every mom needs to have her mommy tribe around her. It may form quickly or it could take years to establish. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the interesting combo of motherhood and friendship it’s this: mom friends may come and go, but your mom mates will stand by you through the thick and thin of motherhood – infertility, miscarriage, family deaths, lifestyle changes, and body issues are just a handful of the experiences our tribe has gone through.
So what’s the takeaway lesson here? Find out who your tribe is going to be. Go to play dates; see if you make a connection with anyone. Who do you see on a weekly basis? Seek out friends at your church, your gym, your playground…and see if you can bond over shared interests. The value from these friendships will stay with you for a very long time!
In the meantime…SALUT!!!