Mom-Friend (noun) whose friendship is amplified by the shared experience of motherhood; the term is often applied to establish a heartfelt connection between two mothers that stems from a deep-rooted understanding of one another’s struggles, hopes, desires, and triumphs.
I used to roll my eyes when someone defined a friendship with an extra adjective. “This is my work-friend,” “She is my friend from church,” “We were friends when we went to high school.” These qualifiers used to drive me batty. They seemed to diminish the quality of a friendship by insinuating it existed only within certain parameters.
However, I have found that the qualifier “mom-friend” actually intensifies the quality of the friendship.
In fact, the application of the term can be applied regardless of a previously established relationship. The common bond of motherhood is that strong; it can really connect two complete strangers, if only for a moment in time.
You see, friendships between moms begin with a very simple premise: we understand that we all really want what is best for our children and that we are doing the best that we can to provide the best lives possible for our kids. This understanding makes mom-friends stick together and fight for one another.
Here are a couple of ways to identify a mom-friend:
We don’t judge; we empathize. This is huge because moms get judged a lot nowadays. But mom-friends don’t judge because they understand how difficult the struggle really is to successfully raise a child. When we see a mom in the grocery store who has a toddler in full meltdown mode, we don’t shake our heads or murmur our disapproval. We either avert our eyes as quickly as possible because, honestly, we know the last thing that kid needs is an audience. Or maybe we shoot her a smile or a thumbs up (though this one might be misinterpreted in the moment). Maybe a three-finger salute straight out of The Hunger Games.
We offer encouragement or support rather than criticism. This happened to me recently when I shared a particularly dramatic showdown I had with my four-year-old over his misbehavior at school. I was pretty upset with myself and my parenting abilities (or lack thereof) because I had come down pretty hard on my son. In that moment I was a vulnerable mother, and the opportunity was there to criticize and bring me even lower. But one of my friends whose kids are a bit older than mine looked me in the eye and said, “We’ve all been there. You did fine. And it’s going to be okay.” As relief washed over me, I have never been more thankful that she was my mom-friend.
We help one another see the bright spots in dark moments. A couple of years ago, my kid threw himself out in the parking lot at McDonald’s, and one of my best mom-friends smiled instead of scowled; she scooped her kid up too so that we could hustle to our cars faster; and once I had wrestled my screaming toddler into the car, she assured me that he’d be asleep before we hit the interstate. Somehow she knew that at that moment, all I needed was the assurance that there was an end to that tantrum in sight. Since then, we’ve repeated that incident several times (different parking lots, same tantrums), and her assurance and smile have remained steadfast.
We see the best in one another. One of my dearest mom-friends works inside the home, raising her two girls. Her girls are always dressed so cute, and she seems to always have everything together. One day I hope to be half the mom that she is and if I ever get there, I’ll consider myself and my boys to be lucky. And yet, she always makes a point of telling me that she thinks I’m doing an awesome job at life. Sometimes she even sends me texts to that effect, unsolicited, just to lift me up! When I share my struggles with her, she always spins it around to make me look good. She sees the best in me, even when I can’t see it myself. And she tells me what she sees often enough that I have to believe her, at least some of the time.
There are so many other examples I could share of when my mom-friends have come through for me. And as I reflect on those moments, I feel a deepening responsibility to be the best mom-friend I can be to those around me.
Because motherhood is such a special journey, but it can be so isolating. The demands on our time, emotions, energy levels, resources, and physical bodies that come with having children are so intense, but it can be hard to articulate that to those around us. Sometimes others just don’t understand – even our spouses sometimes don’t fully appreciate the price we pay as mothers.
But our mom-friends do; they are right there in the same trenches with us, wearing the same uniform, fighting the same battles. And we need each other in ways that could not possibly be overstated because we bring things to our shared table that can’t come from anyone else.
So, my sincerest hope is that each mom who reads this post will experience the special kind of love that comes from having a mom-friend by her side and the beautiful satisfaction of being the mom-friend someone desperately needs.