Sometimes I think moms need friends almost as much as they need sleep. Friends to assure us that we’re not crazy, not disqualified, and not ruining our kids. But between the carpool and the kitchen sink full of dishes AGAIN, between the spelling lists and potty training, between the cleats and the ballet shoes, it can feel impossible to find that friend willing to love you just as you are — crushed Cheerios, leftover makeup, and all.
But here’s the thing — I think that snagging ourselves a mom friend pretty much boils down to one thing: are we willing to stop pretending that we’re perfect? Because if you’re willing to cop to it, I promise the mom sitting across from you will be SO relieved to know she’s not the only one who constantly forgets to sign permission slips, send in a healthy snack, or volunteer for field trips, and you’ll be swapping parenting fails and phone numbers faster than you can say, “time out.”
So, if you’re hungry for mom friends, here are three practical ways that work pretty much every time:
1. Confess Your Parenting Fails
Nothing is lonelier than the inside of a mom’s head. It’s where you replay your worst parenting moments, beat yourself up with mom guilt, and imagine the conversations you’re going to have with your adult kids one day when they bring up that time you had to cancel being a chaperone to the zoo because of a last-minute work commitment. It can be crazy town up in a mother’s head.
The loneliest years of my life were my first two years as a mother and all I really wanted was just one other person to confess how hard this motherhood gig is. But no one did. It was awful. I felt like a constant failure.
It took me 10 more years and two more kids to learn the power of going first. To blurt out to another mom at the soccer sidelines how I managed to get the time wrong and brought the whole crew out at 7 a.m. in the middle of winter only to learn the game had been rescheduled for 11. Or the time I sent out my daughter’s first birthday invitations for the WRONG MONTH. Or left a diaper genie sitting outside my front door. For two full days. Go ahead, crack the door open on your nitty gritty and suddenly you have a conversation and a friendship that might actually go somewhere real.
2. Invite Another Mom Over BEFORE You’ve Cleaned Up
Parenting is exhausting. Pinterest makes it much, much worse. Some days (many days) it’s flat out IMPOSSIBLE to keep a house and children clean simultaneously. That’s just asking far too much at the beginning of the school year, when mama is also on work/homeschool/volunteer/professional deadlines. If you wait till your house and your life are perfect before you invite another mom over it’s never going to happen. Like ever.
Just open the door anyway. Let them feel the crunch of day-old Cheerios between their toes. And bear witness to your piles of laundry. I thought I would weep with joy and relief the first time I saw a new friend’s masses upon masses of dirty laundry. There’s no greater icebreaker than inviting another mother into your non-Pinterest perfect house. I promise.
3. Admit You Just Don’t Know
There are libraries of books to teach moms all the things we “should” know. All the things our mothers didn’t even realize they were expected to know. There are experts at every corner with very loud ideas and it’s exhausting. Give me a mom willing to admit she has no clue how to handle her five-year-old’s passionate opinions or her teenager’s sullen afternoons and I’ll give you a woman I’d be relieved to meet for lunch.
If I want to be lectured, critiqued, or bullet-pointed about the latest parenting technique, I only have to open my web browser or that book someone is recommending. But some days I don’t want advice. I want company. Company on a journey that at its heart is unpredictable, exhilarating, and some days just plain old scary. Give me the mom who will admit all the things she DOESN’T know and I’ll give you the woman who will make us all feel at home.
Hopefully over good coffee and a floor of stale breadcrumbs and random Legos.
~Lisa-Jo, fellow mom who doesn’t know a whole lot and author of Never Unfriended
Michele Morin says
These three pointers go against everything my perfectionist heart craves, but after 23 years of mothering (and more to go!) I realize that somewhere along the way, I have started doing this — not because it came to me in a vision, but because I just wanted to find friends who knew the real me.
Lisa-Jo baker says
YES! I can so relate Michele – sometimes out of desperation we forget to pretend and we are able to connect. Love this
I think we need to stop assuming that most Christian women are moms or that moms have it harder than anyone else.
Lisa-Jo baker says
Hey there Jennifer,
My hope is that this post doesn’t assume either of those things — at (in)courage we try to share encouragement for women in all stages of life. This post is one especially for moms, like others have been for empty nesters or singles or college aged women, since our community spans all those life stages. One of the gifts we try to give each other at (in)courage is the benefit of the doubt – never assuming one story is harder or easier than another. But that each are worth spending time in, listening to, and encouraging through. My prayer today is that wherever you are in your own unique story, the Lord will meet you there and encourage you right in the midst today.
If I may, I’d like to share my testimony with you. I don’t think this post was to assume anything but to give acceptance to women who happen to need encouragement. I too wasn’t a mom for a very long time. And honestly I was totally ok with it.
No one was more shocked than I when the Lord has a different plan.
After 9 yrs of chronic illness (lupus & fibromyalgia) my husband was called into the ministry! It was then that the Lord chose to heal me of lupus so I could have children.
My First one had a heart issue (5 1/2 weeks early), the second one I required a hospitalization & bed rest for 8 weeks, the third a miscarriage while in seminary, & 4th has high functioning autism.
Although I use to have time to devote to hours of Bible study(wonderful!)
now I have to do quick ones throughout my day… I think it’s important that pastors have children if possible because personally “my outlook changed” drastically once I had become caregiver for my family. There’s never a quiet moment for me now and I’m always exhausted & running behind. Each person will be different to a degree. I have many friends that aren’t moms.
And they have told me “all of my trials “have better informed them of how to pray for moms.
I will pray that as not all women may identify with this post, it’s helpful for the body of Christ to relate to each life stage that some women are going through.
My years before children were also very difficult…. so I don’t discount anyone’s stress! Please hear the heart of the author. Praying for your heart to be open to other points of view. And that it will not cause any pain for you. Choosing Unity is an important part of every believers life. We may not be the same but we are all a part of the body. Hope this is encouraging to you. 😉 Have a wonderful week!
Lisa-Jo Baker says
What a beautiful word. Thank you for sharing.
This was the most beautiful post I have read in a long time.
Extremely encouraging as we raise our wonderful but very difficult foster/adopted children.
I have spent many hours crying and feeling sorry for myself!
Thank you for being such an inspiration and may God bless you and your family.
First of all thanks for your kind words. I know how difficult just getting through the day can be.
One of my anchor verses
Is found in Lamentations
3:21-25 (I read it often!!)
It really helps to have scripture to draw on; when we’re weak He is strong! Although we sometimes struggle and days are very long…. The Lord is faithful! We’ve had a few very difficult years and continue to encounter trials it seems on every turn. We’ve had to make a conscious effort to fix our eyes on Jesus. Also to point out children not to “veg” into a game but to walk through it with the Lord.
Children often are mirrors of us! (A scary thought) so when things start getting crazier than normal, I often am reminded that I have to put on my oxygen mask before I can effectively help anyone else. That means my Bible time with the Lotd must happen!
That’s one of the reasons I love in-courage Sooo much, because even if I have only a minute.. I can choose, to get my focus back on the Lord! I’m Saying a prayer for you and your family!!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I remember being plunked down in the sub-zero Midwest in January. I had a newborn, knew no one, and didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. I needed a life preserver….I needed an adult to talk to. I was so thankful for my angel of a neighbor who told me about MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) which is a wonderful organization. New moms, seek them out if your area has one or a church that has a Moms morning out or similar. You NEED this. Your babies NEED for you to have even an hour of sanity with other moms. And yes, do what Lisa-Jo says. Invite them over to your lego-strewn house. Admit you don’t know the answers….ask others. Be willing to go first and extend the olive branch. Someone just might need the life preserver you’re throwing!! Been there…. be vulnerable….no such thing as perfect moms!!
Lisa-Jo baker says
I just love you and your wisdom and open-door heart, Bev!
Tracey Greig says
No such thing as a perfect mum !
We are all learning and all need each other in this journey. Whatever our background, race, culture etc etc!
After being mum to five wonderful babies , all grown up now , no where near perfect, I have made so many failings and thought that made me a failure.. guess what ? I wasn’t a failure…. neither are you !!
I am now nana to six wonderful grand babies. .. still learning, still failings , but still not a failure, and never will be. Neither will you be so let’s give ourselves a break!
You and I are fearfully and wonderfully made .
Be a friend and be friendly even amongst the washing and everything else X
Lisa-Jo, I felt so relieved reading this today :-). I am a HUGE Fan of “real talk” and the power of “Me too”. Thank you for sharing your heart!!
Your new mom friend in the struggle,
Lisa-Jo baker says
I’m raising my cuppa coffee to you today, Launik!
So true. The people who I’m able to learn from, are the ones who are humble and vulnerable. Others I may like or admire, but they’re not always able to speak into my life and teach me–because I need to trust you before I can hear you. And, even though I’m the first to tell you my crazy — I’m also the first to want the crumbs off the floor before I open the door. sigh. We grow up right alongside our kids, don’t we? Thanks for sharing, Lisa-Jo. ((Hug))
Lisa-Jo baker says
Hey there Brenda —
“We grow up right alongside our kids” oh man yes, truer words were never spoken. So much amen and so much right there with you!
Beth Williams says
Mothering can be hard. No one has all the answers. I agree with Bev that Mops or moms morning out groups help get you out of the house & with other adults. We should extend the Olive branch of hospitality to other moms-even if our house isn’t perfect. They won’t care about the messiness of your house-just glad to have adult company. I never had children, but was caregiver to my parents in their old age. It was difficult at times. I was glad to have others to talk to about it. I felt like I had soft spots to land on & could just be me & cry.
Lisa-Jo Baker says
Amen to this Beth — whatever season we’re in, friends, someone to talk to and process with, can make all the difference. Thanks for sharing this.
Angela Cook says
My regrets from parenthood include being obsessive about cleaning, and not playing with my kids — yes, I took them to the park, and we did play, but at home –“how are the dishes, laundry and dusting and vacuuming going to get done if I don’t do it?” — I didn’t know how to let go of that, because that is the way I grew up, with a mother who kept a very clean house, but didn’t enjoy being a mom. I am now a great grandmother, and believe that today’s young mothers know better, so the housework is ignored sometimes, but the kids will have more good memories if Mom can relax and enjoy them while they are young. It definitely helps to get with other mothers — I was fortunate, in a new town, to belong to a “Mother’s Club” — we met twice a month, in the evening (time for Dad to be with the kids!) and also did community service projects — that group probably saved my mental health, and some of us have become reacquainted today, now that our children are grandparents!
Erin Whitmer says
I love your perspective and lessons on friendship. We are often so busy trying to be a better version of our ourselves that we don’t allow women to see the messy versions of us – and that’s the prescriptive side. I find such relief when I can welcome a friend into my chaos and feel unified in it instead of judged by it. There is freedom in that kind of friendship. Thank you for being the voice of friendship and for encouraging us through the mess of it to find the deep of it we desire!
Lisa-Jo Baker says
Hey there Erin — thanks for that kind encouragement — yes, there’s something about making our real selves available to the people in our lives that takes those connections deeper than small talk. I’ve found it takes practice but is so worth it.
In all my years of Motherhood I’m still learning, and I accept that there are plenty of times I didn’t get right. Thank-you for your well spoken words Lisa Jo. I too like to think it’s better to build others up than tear them down.
Have a blessed day all,
Kristen Strong says
You and your words are always the BEST kind of company. Love this, love you. xo
Rebecca L Jones says
Sorry ladies, Jesus is the only perfect one. And He has seen it all. Unless mothers learn to rest in Him, exhaustion is your middle name, we all need our calm and peaceful place, and then it falls into place better. You might even get a nap.
Heather Stroud says
I so so SO loved this post! I’m in the middle years (4 kids between 14 and 19) and it brought back to mind so many, “ugh I remember that!”, “totally right”, “don’t I know it”, “amen sister” memories! It also spurs me on to be hopeful for the next ‘not so perfect’ memory makers in the near future!
Lisa-Jo baker says
You and me me both sister!
Theresa Boedeker says
I so identified with all three suggestions. Yes. And don’t be afraid to make the first move. Because when we admit we don’t know the answers, that parenting is hard, and we have made so many mistakes, who couldn’t like us and want to spend more time with us. I just gave a speech this weekend about making mistakes and learning from them and the blessings in disguise they really are. And when I told my daughter what I was going to talk about, she said, “Mom, that is a perfect topic. You have so much experience with making mistakes.” And it is true. And then she started apologizing, saying she didn’t mean it that way. And I knew that. But at my house, we have a saying, “You just pulled a Theresa.” Which means you just made a big mistake. Three guesses as to why it is called that?
Pearl Allard says
This is SUCH an encouragement, Lisa-Jo! So much freedom in just being ourselves. (And who has the energy to pretend when you’re in survival mode caring for littles?) I’m not so great at opening the door when it’s a mess inside (my home or my heart), but over the years God’s helped me be better than I used to be. Lots more room for improvement here. Thank you so much for this post!
I loved the ideas in this post for women with kids and without. Showing that we have real, relatable struggles is never a bad idea! As a woman in my 30s who will not be a mom, it’s also a difficult season to connect with friends. I’ve found that my friends often make time for mom’s groups and play dates, which is so wonderful and needed for them, but can leave the only non-mom feeling isolated.
Gah! I love you so! I love that you are consistently reminding us that this is how it works! When I was a young Mama, I was also a fairly new wife and a new Christian –I didn’t have much experience in any of those areas but I also didn’t have much drive to fake anything. It’s just not how I am wired… but I felt like I was the only one not pretending. I love that that is not how it is anymore –thanks to voices like yours, my friend! Freedom comes (and Friendships, too!) in the NOT faking it! (But we have to be willing to go first… that is the scary part but that is the part that pays off!)
You, my friend, have always made me feel right at home!
Edna Davidsen says
Dear Lisa-Jo Baker
This snowy morning in Greenland I took the time to read your 3 Guaranteed Ways for Moms to Make Mom Friends.
The title appealed to me since I’m a Mum as well.
You’re right. Mums need friends. They need someone as you say, that’ll tell them they are doing a good job.
Raising kids is an important task that should be valued accordingly.
I see a tendency among woman today to be much better at balancing their lives.
We’re better to stand up and live the life we want – part of it is also because our husbands have become so good at supporting us and respect that women also have a right to plan their lives.
You say: “I think that snagging ourselves a mom friend pretty much boils down to one thing: are we willing to stop pretending that we’re perfect?”
It’s slowly becoming more acceptable to be less perfect. The first waves of the perfect social media life are about to fade out.
Most of us know that reality is different than presented on Instagram etc.
It’s because at some point we’ve dared to say “time out” and think about our situations.
When my son was younger, I often had the feeling you described in this excellent blog post. “Am I doing a job as a mother?” I’ve come to realise that it’s a universal feeling among parents.
We just need to trust God, that He will give us the guidance we need raising our children.
It’s so important, as you say, to take the first step and open up for our inner feelings about being a mum.
The people we open our hearts to will be inspired by us going first; perhaps we’ll be able to help them with their mother-role as well.
My favourite line in this blog post was: “Some days I don’t want advice. I want company.”
As Michele says: this is something we need to do because we need people who know, ‘the real me,’ which is so easy to forget along the way.
For Jennifer, I believe Christian mums have it a bit easier being mums because the faith-based gives them a lifeline many other mums don’t know how to use and don’t have access to.
B is right; what this post does best is encourage is to accept life as it is. The Lord has different plans for all of us.
B, thank you for the courage to share your story with us. Like Maggie, I learned from it.
We are all created in God’s image as Tracy Greig pointed out also when we feel as Beth Williams says, that mothering can be hard.
One of the most valuable points I saw in the comments came from Angela Cook saying: “My regrets from parenthood include being obsessive about cleaning, and not playing with my kids.”
I’ll share on social media Wednesday!