Meaningful Friendships: Just Be You

Ahh, mom friends. They’re the best. If you have them, and they’re quality friends, that is! It’s not always easy to have a great group of mom friends. Maybe you’re someone who is a bit shy, or works a lot and is busy. Perhaps you’re the mom who just moved to the area (or maybe it was three years ago) and it’s been hard for you to find mom friends now.

Some of the moms I know struggle with making new friends because they’re holding onto their group of friends they’ve had FOR YEARS. Like since high school. But, some of these friends may have gone in different directions, don’t live nearby, or may not be moms and don’t “get” your life now. Or, they are moms and you’re just very different. Just because they were our friends for many years, it doesn’t mean that friendships will stand the test of time. (Sometimes they do though- I have several amazing friends I’ve known since high school or earlier).

As we talked about in the previous post, just because someone is a mom, that doesn’t mean you will automatically be friends. And just because you’re out and about, that doesn’t mean that you’ll know where or how to meet the women who could become part of your Mom Squad. Part 1 of the article helped to highlight the places where you might meet potential mom friends and how to start a casual conversation with someone.

What’s next?

So maybe you see the opportunities to meet new moms and maybe you even say hi or have a casual conversation. But what then? Or what about that mom that you’ve made small-talk with several (or many times), and you should know her name, but can’t remember? I know I’ve had this happen! Does this hold you back from pursuing more of a relationship because you feel awkward? Don’t let it!

Honesty and openness

Friendships and relationships are generally built around being open and honest. As moms, it’s not always easy to be open and honest, especially when you meet someone for the first time.  I think this is where we tend to go wrong. While you don’t need to share everything with someone when you’re in the early stages of getting to know each other, this is a great time to be for honesty and openness. Don’t you want to know if this is your kind of person- someone you can relate to and connect with?

[bctt tweet=”As moms, it’s not always easy to be open and honest, especially when you meet someone for the first time. ” username=”GetMomBalanced”]

If you’re not willing to be open, the other person may sense this and not open up either. You may both be contributing to a start of a relationship where neither feels comfortable. And then do you really want to cultivate a friendship with that person? Probably not. Because of discomfort, or the habit of not putting ourselves out there, or avoiding showing who we are (perhaps due to fear of judgement), we miss the opportunity for genuine connection. We possibly miss out on a real friendship.

I know that judgement is real, and the fear of it is very valid. Well guess what? If a person is going to judge you for being who you are, then this isn’t the type of friend you want. This isn’t “your person.” Gosh, doesn’t that sound like what our parents used to say when we came home in tears about kids who weren’t being our friend?

Just be you

Here’s the thing. Be you. Whoever you are. Chances are, you will find friends that you connect with. You will also find some people you don’t connect with. That’s great. The women (or men) you become good friends with will not be the same people in my mom squad, because you and I are very different. We will gravitate to, and attract different types of people. And some people have an easier time than others finding people they relate to, but just about everyone can find and make meaningful connections. But, don’t hesitate to show others who you are because you want them to like you. And definitely don’t try to show them a version of you that you think they want to see.

My friends know that I am honest. Almost to a fault. They know if they ask for my opinion or perspective, I will tell them. My friends have known this since they met me. However, am I going to give a brand new person my perspective on something related to her and her kid(s)? Probably not. I can show them that I am honest and opinionated in ways that don’t involve putting my opinion onto them, or suggesting that my way is the only way. For example, I will tell you that my kid doesn’t sleep through the night, and I will probably use some self-deprecating humor to point out something I’m not doing very well. I’m willing to put myself out there.

Similarly, if I’m at the park and strike up a conversation with another mom, part of what she’ll learn about me is that I don’t allow my son to be a jerk to other kids. I’m the mom who expects my kids to be kind, and I also know they don’t always get it right. If I’m talking with a mom, part of my attention is on my kids. And if my 4yo is being mean, and can’t figure it out on his own, I’ll stop the conversation to address it. She’ll learn this about me by being around me. And I’ll see how she handles her kids. Do we need to do things the same way? Absolutely not. But if she is the mom who lets her kid be a jerk, then the friendship might not evolve past casual. But maybe on this day she’s letting the behavior slide because she’s exhausted and just can’t deal with it today. I get it. I’ve been there. By observing, we can learn more about each other and see if we might be a “fit.”

Develop your relationships

While it’s certainly normal to bond about your kiddos and their lives, remember that true friendships are going to be best when the person is a fit for you. All of you. So, talk about the TV shows you like to watch (I’m all about reality TV) and what you do for work (if you do). I made one of my best mom friends at a play group when our first kids were about 1 month old when we both said we’d rather eat ice cream and Reese’s than worry about getting the baby weight off. We both knew at that moment that this was “my kind of mom.” Since we saw each other weekly at playgroup while we were both on maternity leave, our friendship was able to develop slowly and evolved from only playgroup to walks, coffee, and more. Over four years later, she’s one of my best friends. If we had only talked about our kids, I don’t think we would have realized how similar we are, because as moms, we’re actually different in a number of ways.

Developing your Mom Squad is about You

Meaningful friendships are important for moms who want to feel balanced. It's important to be you, and be open and honest.
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In order to develop friendships (or any relationship), you have to be in a place mentally and emotionally where you are able to put yourself out there. If you’re not, then maybe there are moms who would be a great fit for you, but you’re not able to see it, or it becomes a missed opportunity.

This week, take some time to reflect on you and the type of friends you want. What values are important to you? What can you share about yourself in the early stages of a potential friendship? Remember to be true to yourself and your children and you’ll be more likely to make genuine connections that can turn into more.

Now that you’re willing to just be you, it’s time to figure out how to crete momentum with your mom friends. Check out the next post in this series which will help you learn ways you can continue to cultivate your early friendships and maximize potential for those friendships to evolve into your Mom Squad.

Let us know: with the importance of honesty and openness, what do you want to be sure to share with potential mom friends?

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