As children, we learn friends are very important. Relationships and connections are just as important as we grow, however, adult friendships can be harder to maintain. Adulting, especially parenthood, comes with new responsibilities, priorities and time commitments.
As any mom can tell you, time is precious.
There never seems to be enough of it to get all the laundry done, help with the homework, feed the family, and still get a little sleep. Every family member seems to need something at any given time, and it’s always from mom. So when everyone is finally in bed for the night, it takes every ounce of energy for me stay awake for an hour or two of Netflix or adult conversation.
I need that time to unwind and destress from the day. I also need that time to maintain my adult friendships. I’ve realized lately that I’ve really dropped the ball on that part of my life. Friendships are so important, yet I haven’t been making them a priority.
It really hit me on my birthday this year. Usually, I plan a dinner with my friends. This year, I just didn’t have the time or energy to plan. So, I secretly thought, maybe my friends will plan something for me.
Then, I thought, what friends?
It’s not that I don’t have any friends. In fact, I have some really wonderful ones. However, have I planned anything for their birthdays? Or even a night out lately? Called or texted to check in on them? I’ve been so involved in my own problems and family, that I’ve been neglecting them. How could I expect anyone to want to do something for me when I haven’t been making much of an effort?
This made me really think. Why is maintaining adult friendships so hard for me? There are a few reasons, actually. Not only is lack of time one, but there are others.
My own insecurities and personality play a roll.
I’ve always been OK on my own. As a child, I would spend hours playing by myself. I was shy, so playing make believe was easier than with friends. In high school, I kept busy with activities and dance classes, instead of parties because I didn’t think I was “cool” enough.
As an adult, I like to go shopping alone, see a movie, or even have a meal out by myself. Now, part of it is a preference, and part is because of my anxieties. I worry that I’ll get rejected, that people don’t like me, or that they don’t have fun when they hang out with me. I get stuck in my head a lot, so I just stay home.
Then, there is the mom guilt.
When they were babies, leaving my kids for a night out was hard. They would cry, and I would feel so guilty. Being a stay at home mom, I was their person. Bedtime was my job. I needed the time away, but I was torn.
Now that they are in school, the guilt is different. I don’t see them all day, and I miss them. So, when I go out with friends, I feel that pull to be with them. Shouldn’t I want to spend those few hours with them?
I’m not just a mom, though.
I have many different roles and needs. Some of those are adult conversation and interaction. Adult friendships are really a huge part of self-care.
We need to vent, commiserate, and even brag about our lives. We need to check in with each other. Not just ask, “How are you?”, but listen and support. Not only are those deep conversations needed, but so is laughter. Sometimes we forget how to have fun ourselves when we’re constantly entertaining our little people.
So, I need to remember that being a mom doesn’t mean that I can’t also be a friend. Time is precious, but connections with those friends are just as important.