Listen. I became a mom by accident. Like fell over the cliff into the tumultuous waters of [step] motherhood. To be clear, by the way, I wasn’t tricked into being a mom or anything. I just never thought I’d fall in love with a single dad with three kids 5 and under. And tumultuous because, 1. my step kids have a high conflict bio mom, and 2. Motherhood is scary as fuck.
But, here’s what’s scarier. Making true mom friends. I’m talking about the kinds of friends who see you; who, see your fucks ups and your “lose your shit moments”. Friends who hear you vent, sometimes about the same shit; who see you trying to keep it together, or your kids at their very worst; who see you forget to show up to the bake sale. Friends who see and hear and know all the parts; the good, the bad, the ugly… and show up anyways.
Sounds pretty awesome right? And truly, my wish for you is that you find those friends, or honestly that friend.
Admittedly my journey was a bit unique in that I moved to a new state, was new to this whole mom thing, and was completely isolated for the first few years of [step]mom hood. Some of these self-imposed, some of it shitty people doing shitty things.
Path to Now
Now, I’m not gonna sit here and whine or cry about it. Those shitty people taught me some of my life’s best lessons. It hardened me. Jaded me too, but mostly just toughened me up. And most importantly, they paved the path that led me to the village I have now.
As a kid, my Dad would always tell me that part of his trust in me was my ability to surround myself with good people. I had fantastic friends growing up and through college. So, what the hell changed?
I did. I changed.
See, motherhood changes you to your very core. The way you look, the way you feel, the way you think, your energy, and your priorities. And navigating motherhood is two-tier: you’re trying to raise kind kids and yourself develop into a kind mom. And there are just so many nuances and challenges of navigating mom friends. Because your kid is best friends with someone doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with their mom. Similarly, because you’re best friends with someone doesn’t mean your kids have to be best friends. What I’m getting at here is that when making mom friends… you need to take your time, be open, and be forgiving.
Pass Zero Judgement
And most importantly, honestly, listen up for this one; just because another mom isn’t your friend, it does not give you permission to judge her or talk shit about her. Because listen, you honestly have no fucking clue what’s going on in her world. So, unless she physically assaults your kid, or you, or her own kids, you should pass zero judgment. Because honestly, you don’t know what’s up. And, really, if you need to make her the topic of your conversations, you yourself probably have some shit you should handle. So, lock it up.
Now, we’ve all been there. Sometimes curiosity or the sheer ridiculousness of certain situations might get you a little carried away after a few glasses of wine. It happens. I’m no angel. But, here’s what I know with certainty. When I have gotten carried away, I feel awful later. And it most certainly doesn’t change a damn thing- it doesn’t make me an award-winning mom and it doesn’t help that person. So, what’s my point in all of this?
We Can Do Better
My point is, if our generation of moms doesn’t get it together, we’re going to create an entire generation of girls who treat one another like shit. We can do better, and we should.
When I was upset about another mom being cruel to me, a girlfriend, one of the good ones, said to me, “mean girls, will always be mean girls.” And for a while, that made me feel better. Like I could wash my hands of that mom. But the more I’ve reflected and thought about it over the years, the more it just makes me sad. That woman loves her kids and works her ass off for them, and I am hopeful that she’s teaching them to be better than her.
As a woman, I no longer respect her because she made me the topic of her conversations to make herself feel better, and that’s just shitty. But, at the end of the day, I can’t control her actions I can only control mine. And, as a mom, I can treat her with respect as a fellow mom, and I’m comfortable knowing we aren’t friends. And I’m confident knowing that my girls saw me draw that line with respect.
Raise a Generation of Empowered Young Women
So, what do we do? How do we moms stop the circle and raise a generation of empowered young women who empower other women? The first thing we do is stop judging one another. The second thing we do is talk to our girls about what an empowered woman looks like. The third is we say sorry when we fuck up and hurt another mom, whether she’s a friend or not. And lastly, most importantly, we let our daughters see us draw the line between moms who are our friends and moms who are not our friends, and how we treat both with respect. In other words, we let them see us empower ourselves AND empower other women.
An empowered woman:
- Takes pride in who she is
- Recognizes that she is not just one thing; IE: just a mom, just a career woman, etc.
- Has a clear picture of what she deserves and accepts nothing less
- Values other women, their opinions, and their families
- Uses her voice as it works for her
- Champions other women and celebrates their successes
- Shows up to help other women in need
- Holds other women accountable through respect, honest communication, and forgiveness
Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear your ideas, your stories of moms building you, or you building other moms. Let’s together raise a generation of empowered girls who grow up to be empowered women.