I have to stand up and say, NO MORE MOMMY MARTYRS! Being a mom doesn’t mean I have to say goodbye to my friends. I have come across a number of blog posts about how being a mom basically means friendships go to the wayside. I’m flabbergasted by this idea. Conventional wisdom tells me we’re so focused on our kids (because sacrificing yourself means you are doing a good job as a mother); we have time for nothing else… like showering and putting on pants with a regular waistband. I disagree. Ladies, stop putting yourself and your friendships on the backburner! We are moms, but we are also human beings who need connections and relationships outside of the little people we created too!
I am tired of this mommy martyrdom and woe is me attitude
I could be the picture of “an overworked, overtired, busy mom with young kids.” I had three kids in less than three years (whoa twins). I had a really healthy pregnancy (albeit it did feel like the twins were trying to kill me from the inside out) so I worked until the very last day of my pregnancy (BY CHOICE), went on maternity leave fully planning to return to work FULL-TIME because I love what I do professionally. And, when I need some girl time, I ask my husband for extra help, I get creative and I figure it out.
The vast majority of my closest friends are mothers with kids the same age. We are smart, we are crafty (not only in the glue and ribbon sort of way) and when we want to accomplish something, we get it done. We mobilize when a friend is in need and sometimes our kids are with us, but a good amount of the time, our kids are home with our husbands (which is NOT babysitting, because they are their children).
I asked one of my close mom friends about this, she has two small kids and works in the professional world too. She said,
‘It may sound backwards, but I think losing friendships/becoming a martyr is sort of taking the easy way out. It takes more effort post-kids to maintain friendships. It’s probably easier just to retreat. I often feel like these years when the boys are so young is like survival – I make do with what limited time, sleep, etc. I can get, make the most of it and do the best job I can as a mom. And I try to enjoy the phase despite the exhausting work it is, because it’s so fleeting. So, on top of all of that I can see how it’s easy for moms to let taking precious time for themselves fall by the wayside. And before they know it, they’ve lost or weakened connections with friends, so they chalk it up to, “Oh well, that’s a sacrifice we moms make.”’
It fires me up to hear moms lament the loss of their female friendships and ask for forgiveness for not being present. My number one priority in life is my family, but I also need to be a happy person to create a happy home environment. If this means I go out for dinner and drinks with friends once a month and my husband puts the girls to bed solo, so be it. Missing bedtime does not mean I am turning in my mom card. I may come off as being selfish, but I’m making sure I am happy too.
5 ways I keep my friendships going
- Plan play dates at my house with my friends who bring their kids. The kids get along (aka they play with each other’s toys) and I get to see a friend – win-win!
- Meet up at a winery or restaurant after the kids are in bed. Our usual “night out” start time is 8pm and it’s an open door policy. The moms can arrive any time because we know life and tantrums happen
- Get together at a friend’s house after the kids are in bed. This often translates to a potluck and a bottle of wine, otherwise known as the perfect night to me
- For long distance friendships requiring travel time, I plan a weekend together. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but this does require my husband watching our kids solo for 1-2 nights… but this is not out of the norm because he’s their dad (NOT a babysitter).
- If I need some time with my friends – I just ask my husband to help me make it happen. He has rearranged his work schedule (even using his limited time off from work) to accommodate my need for some quality girl time because he’s not a jerk. I went away for a quick jaunt to Philly for 24 hours, and he was completely cool with being the single parent at home.
I am lucky I married an awesome guy, but I also chose wisely. I knew I wasn’t marrying someone who expected me to stay home and take care of all things domestic the minute we were married.
A lot of my quality friend time is reserved for when the girls are in bed, or close to bed time. I will always make every effort to spend the waking hours with my kids, but they go to bed early, so the whole night is mine! We sleep-trained our kids at 3-4 months, so they sleep a solid 10-12 hrs without waking up at all.
Sleep training is a controversial subject and I’m not here to judge how anyone parents. For the moms thinking, “Well, this just wouldn’t work for me because I breastfeed and my kids co-sleep and wake up multiple times a night!” I also have friends who are in the same boat because they would never consider sleep training their toddler (who still wakes up multiple times at night), they continue to nurse on demand, and they still come out for dinner and drinks too.
Furthermore, I’m not slaving away doing dishes and laundry (because I have a system to do laundry once a week, food shopping twice a month, and my hubby takes the lead on dishes). If you are in a relationship where domestic responsibilities are not shared equitably (or at all), it may be time to have a real discussion with your partner about expectations.
The Double Standard
The current political environment has gotten me all fired up (especially after reading this) about equality and I have been asking myself, “Would a guy do this? Would a guy think this way?”
Do guys complain about how they don’t get to do the things they once did after becoming a father? Do they express guilt for engaging in hobbies taking them away from home?
“You know honey, I really don’t think I should play golf today. I can see the kids really need me.” This is not a theme I see emerging, so why the double-standard?
“Oh, I couldn’t possibly ask my wife to stay home with the kids so I can go to a baseball game.” -said no man EVER!
As women, are we so good at anticipating the needs of others our partners don’t need to ask for help because we’ve already taken care of the meals, household chores and children? In response, I say we can ask for help and expect to get the help too. You don’t know until you ask, and if your partner isn’t willing to help out, I think a serious conversation needs to take place.
Growing, developing, and maintaining my personal friendships are very important to me, so I make it happen. If something else is a priority to you and your overall life happiness, then make that happen.
If you doubt your ability to accomplish this, think about how we manage to sign our kids up for a ridiculous number of activities, get all the equipment required, get them there on time, and document every moment to post to social media too. Women are incredibly good at getting sh*t done. We move heaven and earth for our kids and partners, but we oddly become just too overwhelmed to do anything for ourselves? I don’t buy it. Make yourself a priority… no apologies, no excuses, just do for yourself what you do for your kids.