Last week, I wrote about the importance of women having women friends for xoJane.com. The piece came about after reading this popular New York Times story on the unique challenge of making sincere friendships in adulthood, post-college.
Although I didn’t get into it in the xoJ essay, the whole “friend-ing as parents” thing is its own strange bird. The NYT piece devoted a short section to the awkwardness of it all, and I almost stood up and yelled, “Preeeach!” while reading that part. The premise of it is nuts: Two parents — strangers, essentially — have young’uns who are the same age or in the same playgroup or class. Somehow this automatically means you and the other parent are cool-like-that buds?
The logic is definitely flawed. But what are you supposed to do? In those very early days, you’d friend another new parent because your kids have the same pattern aden + anais bamboo swaddle blankets. Arbitrary? Not really. Not when you’re working off of two hours of sleep and craving the sound of adult voices.
Honestly, back then, making new mama friends was almost like sticking your hand into a jambalaya hot pot, hoping you pull out something recognizable and palatable. (No okra!) Add to that, the fact that so many of your non-mom friendships changed once you become a parent. It makes sense — the common ground between you has shifted — but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.
Yes, women having grown-up girlfriends is important. And as overwhelming and all-consuming as motherhood can be, it’s that much more essential to have your homies, your “help you dig up your dog“-type friends close by, at the ready with a firm shoulder, an open ear, a kind word or just a knowing nod.