Moms: Why you need to hang on to the friends that matter

The subject of friendship is one that I have wanted to broach for the longest time on my blog.

Before, I would have approached it from an angle of someone who thought she had mostly figured out how to balance having children while still maintaining friendships. My husband is wonderful at making sure that I get time out of the house. I stay connected on social media and know who goes where. I had a handle on my friendships, I thought.

Now, I’m writing this from a newly refreshed perspective. It turns out that I have much to learn about how to manage parenting children while simultaneously investing in the people who matter most to me. Go figure, someone with still much to learn!

There are a host of blog posts and online articles out there “training” child-less people on how to approach their friends who are parents. They state what their expectations should and shouldn’t be, how to be courteous and understanding of their parenting friends and their new needs. I am one person that loved those articles. I thought that they were incredibly useful and they even validated some part of me.

That is until I actually sat down and talked to a friend of mine who isn’t a parent. She was warm and humble, non-accusatory and thoroughly recognized that she indeed did not have a clue about what it means to be a parent. That she knows it is something that she can’t fully understand until if and when she makes that journey for herself. She also pointed out, though, how left of center all of that talk makes her feel.

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Hanging around a group of parents when you yourself are not a parent can feel like you are hanging around a group of physicists, engaged in a full-on conversation about their work. Or like any person would feel amongst a group of people who are having a conversation in an entirely different language. I remember feeling that way as some of my friends made the transition to becoming a parent. How left behind I sometimes felt, and how insignificant our relationship seemed afterwards. 

Awkward. Out of place. Unappreciated. Unacknowledged.

Where’d the love go?

The truth is that there is sometimes an underlying tone to these articles: parents are the ones doing worthwhile work and you’re not, and it’s just not something that you’ll ever understand.

Even from my little blog, in my small corner of the inter-web, I couldn’t help but wonder, and have been in deep thought over it since discussing it with my friend, if I ever make people feel that way. I had always thought that though I wear the hat of motherhood, even though it is such a large part of who I am, it’s still only a part. Parenting for me is like the vast oceans all across the Earth. They cover most of it, but they’re sill only a part of it. 

I’m still the same old Ashley that likes sushi, a good book, smelling shampoo and candles. I’m just softer, I can run on less sleep and might appreciate 13 minutes of silence more than pre-children Ashley might.

I’m still me.

Right?

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Do I remind my friends of that fact?

I think I have failed at that last part on occasion. Or maybe even more than I have ever realized.

Moms, listen up. Because this is important. 

You may be covered in spit up, day old food or God knows what else as you are reading this. You may be going on three hours of sleep. You may have a colicky baby, a toddler in the throes of the terrible two’s (three’s, four’s, five’s..) or a preteen who thinks they know way more than they actually do. You may legitimately have a lot going on. You may not feel like you have even a moment to look up from what you’re doing, but you need to.

Even if only for a minute, you need to come up for air.

Our work may be beyond a 24/7 job, but we still need to work on ways to find meaningful connections outside of the home. Your sanity inside of the home depends on it.

You need to come up for air and let the people around you love on you. Build into you. Remind you that you’re funny, and breathing and alive. Remind you that there is a life outside of the home. It takes a community to raise a child, of this much I believe. I think it also takes a community to raise up a person from the muck of every day, wipe their tears and remind them that they’re special. That they are cherished. That they are seen, and heard and noticed.

And if there is one job that I can think of where a person needs meaningful friendships, it’s motherhood. If there is one job that I can think of where a person needs a kind word, an encouraging word, a good laugh, a safe place to cry – it is motherhood. If there is one job that can be incredibly isolating, and make a person feel more alone than ever, I say passionately, that it is motherhood. 

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If there is one person who needs outside love, support and warmth, it’s a mom.

We need our friends. You need friends that you can call when you’re at your wit’s end with your children. You need friends that you can call and ask any manner of baby-related question. You also need friends that might not be so fluent in the jargon of breastfeeding talk or sleep training. You need friends from all walks to help your soul fire on all cylinders.

Confidants, sages, comforters, uplifters, jokers, effervescent dreamers and pragmatic problem solvers.

And the beautiful part? They still need you. They still have room for you.

It just all becomes a touch trickier post baby. But more worth it than ever before.

Moms Speak- Am I the only one that this makes mad?

Few things ruffle my feathers in the social media world.  I can handle sarcasm or darker humor, even if it is humor that I may not personally care for. I can handle differing political opinions or ideology from others. I can even tolerate it when people use their Facebook account to incessantly whine about stuff – like the slow driver in front of them or the person at work who at their lunch even though the brown bag was clearly marked.

Let me say that I think that blogging and social media are both fantastic things overall. They serve a purpose, even if it is a more abstract one than books or the news. They allow for a greater scope of connection and a type of connection that someone like me became especially fond of after having babies. Finding communities of moms who have been ‘there’, done ‘that’ and gotten the proverbial t-shirt was a huge help to me. It was refreshing to find other women that understood and who could encourage me that life does get better after the throes of newborn codling.

Unfortunately though, when you become involved in social media you may get burned and sometimes there may be things that make you mad. It’s a double-edged sword, unfortunately. What really grinds my gears are when people turn their personal blog or profile into a platform for them to put others down for thinking or being different from them. It drives me bonkers, people. It’s one thing to post about and discuss a topic that people will be divided over and for a civil discussion to ensue. It’s another story when you post something that is clearly, and only, opinion as if it is gospel truth or something that is purposely disparaging towards other people simply because they disagree.

The flip side to the great waves of connection that come from social media? It brings out the worst in us. Judging others so carelessly is something that we should be ashamed of, and yet now a days it’s celebrated. Pick any part of life – work, politics, pop culture, day-to-day life, etc… and being judgmental something that is outright encouraged. You should HATE and judge your party’s political opponents. You need to buy this magazine so that you can judge a certain celebrity and the mess that they are making of their lives. You should turn your nose up when someone looks or speaks a different way from you.

This mentality has seeped into everything. And I think that is sad, not something that gives cause for celebration.

Judging other people is something that we should be uneasy and ashamed of, not something that we should be comfortable doing. Because IT’S AWFUL.

I want to post a link to an article that I read the other day. PLEASE NOTE that this is not a call to arms. This is not my asking for any of you to go and comment and berate the author of this article. I want to ask: am I the only one that gets mad about stuff like this? Because the way that I see it, all parents, moms and dads, are in the trenches together. People have different philosophies about everything and that includes parenting. And while it is also worth noting that some things in this article are understandable,  I DO NOT believe that we should encourage parents judging other parents. Do we truly know what goes on in someone else’s life? Is there anything wrong with telling someone that what they’re doing isn’t right? Of course not. But is this how we do it?

Here is the link, folks. 

I have to know…am I the only one who gets burned up over stuff like this?

Mom’s Speak – What changed the most for you after having children?

I wrote yesterday about a new endeavor that I am pursuing here at my blog.

This will hopefully turn into a reoccurring series here at This Heart and I hope that you will join me.

I want to hear back from you and so do other mom’s!

Everything changes when you have children <—That is the understatement of the year. Everything more than changes when you have children. What you knew before them seems foreign, you can mostly only recall life after them. At least, this is how it appears.

For me, it was hard at first to pinpoint the one thing that I think went topsy-turvy the most after having children. It felt like it all collectively changed, but I think at the root of it, there all of a sudden became a lack of time. I love having time to laze around all day while vegging out and watching a movie. I love being able to take my time when I go to the store and browse through as many aisles as I choose. Doesn’t that sound nice? Any mother knows, it doesn’t stay like that once little ones come into play.

Now it’s hurrying through the stores before the children get bored or have a meltdown. If the television is on, it’s probably playing cartoons or Disney movies. And heaven forbid I turn it out – then I’m met with immediate requests to change from the news to Mickey Mouse or Little Einsteins. And don’t even get me started on all of the vegging and laying around that doesn’t happen any day of the week.

Yes, time has changed in more ways than one.

So how about you – what changed the most for you after you had your children?

Happy Tuesday, everyone!