When I became a mom, I had the entire process mapped out in my mind. I just knew I was going to be one of those moms that did everything with their daughter. We would talk like old girlfriends, dress the same, snap selfies, and she would feel comfortable expressing herself to me. I thought, the sooner I started implementing this “best friend” behavior, the better chance I would have of raising a teenager in the future that would know that her mother could be trusted during one of her most intense phases of life – puberty.
To be honest, this desire to build this “best friend” friendship with my child came from my own lack of one in my younger years. Don’t get me wrong – my mother was absolutely amazing but looking back, there were things I should have told her early on that may have saved me from emotional distress at fifteen years old.
So here I was – a stay at home mother with this adorable two year old, proclaiming to the world, “Here is my best friend!” It didn’t take long before I realized that my daughter couldn’t be my best friend. Here is why.
Babies Do Not Talk Back.
Having a toddler be my friend became a lonely life rather quickly. Because I was a stay at home mother, I was lacking that daily adult human interaction. I would talk to her and she would gurgle back. I would try to give her a high five and her tiny fingers would clumsily entangle with my own. I would ask her to do something and she would fart. We were headed nowhere fast.
A major contributor to postpartum is loneliness. We go into motherhood with these preconceived notions of what motherhood should look like. The truth is, we cannot spend every waking moment with our children and they cannot substitute the space that is supposed to be filled with daily human adult interaction. We need people to express to…that can actually talk back to us.
Children Do Not Offer Emotional Support
Parenting is tough enough and every parent needs someone to lean on. It may seem okay to cry in front of your children every time you have an emotional meltdown but your child cannot provide you any emotional assistance. It is also not very healthy for them to witness mom in all of her moments of vulnerability. Think back to your pre-child years. Do you remember how great it felt to share a glass of wine with a girlfriend to vent or share your day with? You still need that time…especially as a mother.
In those early years of motherhood, your hormones are still going haywire. Having someone around, rather it be a friend, a therapist, or a partner – will be able to notice any irregularities in your mood quicker than your children will. Keep a support system around you that is aware of your mental health.
We are a big practicer of boundaries in our household. Boundaries are an important part of self care and for moms, we have a hard time setting the most important boundaries in our own households. While our children should look at us as an open space to express and be honest to, trying to be best friends with your children – at any age, can create a thin line between respectability and disrespect.
“I’m not one of your little friends”– every Black mother in America
When it comes to boundaries with your children, teach them that they can always express but it needs to be done in a respectable manner. Adults in conversation should not be repeatedly interrupted because they want to share. Giving respect in turn gains respect. When mommy says stop, all action needs to cease. As I teach my daughter, listening can save her life.
How To Make Adult Friends During Motherhood
The next question is how. How do you make friends when you have been conditioning yourself that your child is your best friend? I will be honest with you. It is going to take time and effort. When you see other mothers that seem to have a great support system and have found their tribe, remember that those friendships have been built on time and consistency. Make sure you are staying active in your own mom communities. Attend local playdates and book readings. Find your museums and check out their toddler days. Visit the park and don’t be afraid to converse with the other moms there. They are probably looking for you too.