When I became a mom, the question of where I stood took center stage in my life. In those early months of motherhood, I struggled to find my footing as a new parent in a strikingly literal (and comical) sense.
During those “new mom” months, I discovered that changing my daughter’s diaper while in a sleep-deprived fog might cause me to drop said diaper and, in attempting to retrieve it, step full-bore into the used side of the diaper. Likewise, I discovered that walking around the house barefoot might end with me resting my full weight on a Lego and yelping in pain after.
Once the new mom haze had dissipated, I felt a new pull to assess my footing in a broader sense. I had always observed how esteemed (or not) I was in my relationships. However, once I had children, I realized that everyone I let into my life influenced my mood and, consequently, the mood with which I parented.
To put it plainly, if I was busy putting out fires set by difficult people, I wouldn’t have the focus I needed to be the mother I wanted to be. With that in mind, I began surveying my relationships, taking note of which ones sheltered me during life’s storms and which ones were the storms themselves.
One relationship that had become surprisingly treacherous terrain after I became a mom was that of my friendships. My friendships had consistently brought me great joy throughout my life. Given my high regard for my friends, I resisted the warning of a sage mom acquaintance that, once I had children, I would notice a chill among some of my (single and childless) long-time friends. I did not believe that any such chill would occur as I did not have friends who begrudged other people their life choices. Or so I thought.
Soon after I became a mother, one long-time and non-mom friend floored me by announcing that she couldn’t go out with me anymore because “a wingwoman can’t be someone’s mom.” Unaware of this “fact” and that I was serving as someone’s wingwoman, I mourned the loss of that friendship with an equal measure of bewilderment and heartache.
Still, other friends spent hours seeking my opinion on every detail of their dating mishaps but could barely find time to ask about my day or ask to see my baby. Ever. This growing lopsidedness in my friendships gripped me with feelings of resentment that often–and unfortunately–distracted me from my child.
Eventually, this troubling chapter gave way to an empowering conclusion: I had control over whether I befriended supportive—or unfriended self-serving—people.
With that newfound clarity, I ended my one-sided friendships and joined several new mom groups in search of more reciprocal relationships. I opened up to strangers in the hopes of connecting with women who were living the same kinds of struggles and victories that I was experiencing in my day-to-day as a mom.
Finding my so-called Mom Crew didn’t happen overnight. However, in time and with the patience that I had prayed for and received, my search bore fruit when the first member of my Mom Crew found me.
I met my first Mom Crew friend at the park. She approached me, introduced herself, remarked that we had kids the same age, and suggested a playdate. With that simple but much-needed extension of friendship, outings went on to become enjoyable for the children and moms alike, and I met someone whose embrace of motherhood’s complexities inspires me to this day.
Since meeting that first Mom Crew member, she and I have befriended other supportive moms. For the past decade, my Mom Crew and I have stood by each other in the good times and the bad.
When one of us was knocked down by heart-wrenching marital problems, the rest of us huddled around her, offering our encouragement, our time, and our own stories of tribulations overcome.
When one of us was silenced by a haughty school official who ignored an escalating concern at our children’s school, our best email writer fired off an email that got the school official to resolve the matter quickly.
My Mom Crew and I bring our strengths to our group not only for our sake but for the sake of our children, as well. Our most creative member plans outings that nourish our children’s sense of wonder; and each of us cares for the other’s kids when one of us is sick or has to attend a meeting mid-day.
I cherish my Mom Crew for helping me to maintain my perspective while I navigate the joys and frustrations of motherhood. This sense of balance allows me to be at my most present for my children, instead of wasting time mulling over the slights of lesser friendships.
My kids, in turn, have benefited from this more-grounded version of Mommy in leaps and bounds, and I have my mom pals to thank for it.
Dolores Smyth is a parenting writer who enjoys spending time with her husband, three young children, and her Mom Crew. You can follow more of her work on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth.