As a full-time freelancer, my childless days were spent in a solitary way, working at a table in Starbucks. I had friends, but my non-writer friends didn’t really understand what it was like to be a writer, so I looked to other writers for support, encouragement and advice. I imagine it’s the same in many professions, from the military to medicine. It helps to have friends who understand your day-to-day life.
For me, being a mom is much like being a writer—and it’s nice to have the support of others who actually understand what my days are like with two kids. Over the past five years of being a parent (my sons are three and five now), I’ve discovered there are different kinds of mom friends I need in my life. Well, maybe not need, but certainly appreciate. I didn’t seek them out, but they were there when I needed them, and having them around has made this wild ride called motherhood a little bit easier.
1. The Been There, Done That Mom
This is the mom whose kids are grown, or maybe the mom whose kids are several years older than yours. Either way, she has been where you are and can advise you on how to survive, whether it’s potty training, sleeping through the night, sibling rivalry or back-to-school issues. When I was pregnant with my second son, my friend Karen—whose five sons are grown—was a font of knowledge. She talked me down from the ledge more than once, convincing me that if she could raise five sons to adulthood, I could handle two.
2. The Zen Mom
My friend Rebekah has five children under the age of nine, and she’s a Zen mother goddess. I am consistently wowed by her ability to smile in the face of chaos and make her children feel loved and nurtured. You know a mom like this, and your first instinct may be to hate her. How can she be so cool and calm while her children are running through the house screaming at the top of their lungs? How does she manage to get everyone up and dressed and out the door while maintaining an unruffled and sunny disposition? Is it mimosas in the morning and wine all day? Anti-anxiety meds? Something else? Likely, it’s just her personality, and she is someone you need to be around because her calm will help you feel more calm.
3. The Maker Mom
Also known as the Martha Stewart mom, this is the one who makes baby food from scratch, sews curtains, knits blankets, hosts themed dinner parties and grows her own fruits and vegetables. From her, you will learn the value of creativity and the reward of making it yourself. My friend Shannon’s artistic streak inspires me to make rather than buy things—and while my attempts range from passable to laughable, I’ve gained a few skills I didn’t have before. And since the Maker Mom is also an amateur event planner, she can teach you how to throw a kid’s birthday party that won’t break the bank—or your spirit.
4. The Do-It-All Mom
She works full-time and she’s the class mom. She takes piano lessons on Tuesday and plays softball on the weekends. She volunteers at the library and writes the newsletter for the PTA. She travels internationally, with and without her kids. She has a Type A personality, a ton of ambition and a schedule that boggles your mind. My friend Samantha is somehow able to do far more than I even aspire to do, and she balances it all as a single mom. The Do-It-All Mom’s friendship will motivate you to push your own boundaries and find your passions and interests, not to mention a better day planner.
5. The New Mom
Maybe she just had a baby, or maybe she’s still pregnant, but she’s where you were not all that long ago. She has her good days and her bad days, and you find yourself nodding in recognition no matter what the circumstance. You might end up being her mother mentor—which will be as good for you as it is for her, because it’ll give her the boost she needs to get through those early months and years, and it’ll make you realize how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished as a mother. On days when you feel like you can’t do anything right, call your new mom friend and you’ll find yourself coming back to center.
Wherever you are in your motherhood adventure, you’ve probably found your journey eased by someone else who may have chosen a slightly different path. Look to those mom friends who are different from you to complement your own parenting style. And then look around—your particular talents and skills might just benefit another mother. We’re all in this together, right? Might as well enjoy the trip!
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy