Are moms allowed to have friends? If my toddler had her way, she would be my best friend and we would only talk to other toddlers (if they share).
But that can be a lonely life, especially once your toddler grows up and realizes that she’s too cool to be your friend. Unfortunately, most toddlers are selfish and aren’t the most considerate friends. And there’s always the awkward time when you’re frustrated with your toddler and really just want to vent to someone who “gets it.”
One thing that I’ve realized since becoming a mom is that friendships are difficult to maintain and even harder to start. But we all crave connection, regardless of our stage in life.
If you’ve been struggling to make, maintain, or even find a connection, I loved reading Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker. Friendships have never come easily to me, even before I was a mom, but this book helped me to realize what I was doing wrong. These are my five biggest takeaways from Never Unfriended.
How to Have More Meaningful Friendships
One of my biggest takeaways from Never Unfriended is to be vulnerable in friendships. It’s so easy to put on a happy face and always answer that everything’s “fine,” but it’s nice to be able to have an honest conversation with a real friend.
True friendships are made over spilled juice. Don’t be afraid to open up your door and let a friend see the messy side of you.
Life isn’t always perfect. Let your friend see your imperfections. You’ll connect on a deeper level if you’re not trying to hide behind perfection. Also, your friend will be able to relate to your mess more than your dirty dishes hidden in the microwave.
While I’d love to say that I always have a perfectly clean, spotless home, that’s not reality. If you stop by before noon, there’s a good chance we’ll still be in our pajamas with toys strewn about the floor, because we like to “save on laundry” and have a pajama party all. day. long. But feel free to join us!
Let go of friendship PTSD
Did you ever have anyone tell you they were “too cool” to be your friend? I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been on both ends of that conversation.
Especially when we’re young, friendships can be traumatizing. But even as adults, friendship post-traumatic stress disorder (friendship PTSD) is real.
It’s not easy trying to get along with other people. Sometimes people naturally grow apart, sometimes people do things we disagree with, and sometimes we find out that people just aren’t the person we thought or hoped they were.
If you’ve been walking around with friendship PTSD from a past friendship (or even a lack of past friendships), you’re not alone. But if you want to have lasting friendships in the future, you need to get over your friendship PTSD. Talk to the mom next to you at the park or the parents at your kids’ baseball game. Be the first to reach out and see what happens. It might not be a match made in heaven, but you won’t know if you don’t try.
By the way, if you’re terrified to talk to people, practice at the grocery store. It’s a non-committal way to brush up on your people skills. 😉
Stop playing the comparison game
Nothing is as terrifying as thinking you don’t matter because you can’t do it like she does. – Lisa-Jo Baker in Never Unfriended
How many times have you sat on the sidelines of your child’s t-ball game, eyeing the other women and wishing you could “get it together” just like her?
I can’t tell you how many times I changed my clothes before my son’s baseball games last year (I finally invested in Stitch Fix because I realized that I have no style, but that’s a story for another day).
As I tried to nonchalantly pick dried spaghetti sauce off my shirt while envying the mom who showed up with perfect hair, clothes, and snacks for her kids and mine, I finally realized I was being ridiculous. After my daughter walked up and helped herself to the other kids’ snacks, I decided to follow her lead and make a new friend.
Change your expectations
Friendship isn’t about you. Real friendship is about serving others. Trust me, that’s a lesson that I’m still learning, but changing your expectations of how a friendship should look will help you so much.
By thinking of your friend’s needs in the friendship first, you’ll be able to have deeper connections. You’ll understand your friends better so they’ll feel more comfortable with you.
This can look different depending on the circumstances. In Never Unfriended, Lisa-Jo Baker shared a story about a time when a friend was struggling with an issue. Lisa-Jo kept trying to “talk it out,” but that wasn’t the way the friend wanted to process the situation. Instead of forcing her friend to talk, Lisa-Jo realized that everyone processes things differently.
As a friend, it’s important to try to put others first.
Be the friend you want to have
Instead of focusing on what you want to get out of the friendship, try thinking about how you can “be there” for your friends. That mom who brought snacks for her own kids and mine? She was a good friend.
Especially when you’re a mom of young kids, it can be difficult to look past your own needs. But thinking of others and how you can be the friend they need is a wonderful way to create lasting friendships. Making a double batch of spaghetti and dropping it off at a friend’s house when they have a sick child or stopping by, Lysol wipes in hand, to help clean can solidify any friendship.
It’s so easy to let friendships fall through the cracks when you’re a mom. Maybe you feel so overwhelmed by life, or, when you do get out of the house, you’re so focused on taking care of your kids’ needs that you feel like you can’t handle even making small talk with another person. But chances are that the mom sitting next to you on the park bench is feeling the same way. Or maybe that friend from college would welcome a phone call after the kids are in bed. Reach out and see what happens!
If you’ve been struggling to make or keep friendships going, I highly recommend Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker. Reading it is like talking to a friend over coffee. It’s full of hilarious and gut-wrenching stories that every mom’s been through, but it’ll teach you how to make the friends and be the friend that you’ve always wanted.