Once you become a mom, having other mom friends is NECESSARY. When you have young kids at home, you need a trusted group that you can turn to for advice or commiserate with. However, friends that don’t have kids, don’t yet have kids, or have grown kids are also so invaluable in ways I didn’t recognize before I became a parent–for two big reasons.
1. It’s easier to talk about topics outside of parenthood.
When you are with your mom friends, your conversations always slip back to your kids, no matter how much you try to not let that happen during a night out. You can be talking about anything in the world and without realizing it, you’ll notice you’ve been talking about potty training woes for 10 minutes. You try to refocus on the previous topic and then, also without noticing, you’re suddenly talking about future reproductive plans or a funny thing your kid did at soccer practice. It’s some kind of mom reflex that we can’t help. We want some time for ourselves, but once we have it we obsessively talk about our kids.
At a recent wedding, I naturally fell into a conversation with two other moms. We all have kids that are little so we are engrossed in the same stage of parenthood. Gathered at our table at the reception, we discussed everything from how high daycare costs can shape your plans to stay home or work, to the struggle of dispensing antibiotics to a squirmy toddler. Reflecting the next day, I thought about how we could have talked about anything in the world, but of course three moms couldn’t resist the urge to fall into a conversation about our kids.
So, it’s not that you can’t discuss celebrity gossip or career goals or home décor ideas with your mom friends…it’s just that it seems really, really hard to stick to those topics. I still talk about a lot of these things with my mom friends, but inevitably the conversations are peppered with tangents about what’s going on at home and daycare. During the conversation at the wedding, we did talk about other things, like where we went to college and the upcoming season, but we overwhelmingly discussed mom life.
If we’re trying to socialize with our kids and mom friends at the same time, it’s even harder to stick to a non-parenting topic, because our conversations are constantly interrupted with tears or requests for more juice.
I notice that when I’m spending time with some friends that don’t have children (or have older kids and are at a completely different, less hands-on stage of parenthood), I have focused discussions about all sorts of miscellaneous topics that end up being the refreshing conversations I didn’t realize I needed.
2. It’s important to not feed into the “us versus them” mentality of moms versus non-moms.
I love being ingrained in a group of people where everyone brings forth a different perspective. It makes time spent together that much richer. We often unconsciously seem to split into groups of moms and kid-free adults–accidentally fostering a one-versus-another mentality. I think there’s so much everyone has to offer outside of their choice to have children or not.
My mom friends are completely necessary to have around, because sometimes I need someone that just innately understands the hardships of having a small child. But having a four-year-old isn’t the only characteristic that defines me, and I still want to connect with people socially and emotionally over the other aspects of my life. Spending time engaging with a group of friends that are in different spots of life bridges the “kids versus no kids” gap and allows the group to connect on all the different characteristics that comprise an individual, like career plans, financial habits, entertainment interests, and past memories.
My friends with kids bring forth the important perspective of how a choice I make will affect my family and how it will fit with motherhood. My friends without kids are often the ones that bring forth the important perspective on how a choice I make relates to life outside my child and the dreams and goals I’ve held onto for a long time. I know I need both perspectives.
I’m sure we all have friends from different walks of life. How do these important friendships impact you?