When I was in my 20’s, people loved to give me life advice. I’d like to go ahead and thank them now for nothing, because they failed miserably on a lot of fronts.
For starters, when warning me about the potential difficulties of marriage, motherhood, and aging, not one person warned me about how devastating it would be to snap out of a decade-long fog and realize that I am no longer cool. I have a theory that this phenomenon is exactly what sends people into a mid-life crisis.
I recall getting married and spending a few years being legit before deciding to have babies. That was a lot of years ago. I have no idea where the time went, or how I got here, but suddenly I’ve realized that I look like a disheveled, frumpy, mom, still wearing 2008’s fashions and struggling to uphold my end of an adult conversation.
And then there’s this: Everyone knows parenthood changes you, but no one told me that parenthood would revamp my friendships, too. My village is in ruins, people. It is a flare-jeaned, stretched-out-and-faded, utter wasteland of ill-fitting-undergarments. Most of the friends I had in my 20’s live far away, or disappeared completely as our lives took different directions.
Women — especially those who are desperate and deep in the trenches of motherhood — really need friends. Our husbands may pretend to be interested in what we’re saying, but I think we all know that they’re not listening to our detailed account of what happened when you tried on pants in Target today. And if he is listening? I’m sorry to say it, but he’s probably bored. He might claim not to be, and that’s really kind of him, but the truth is that no one is going to truly GET it like another woman will. And that is why we need girlfriends.
So, how do we find them? Follow this (mostly sarcastic, but also true) guide to making new friends and reclaiming your former badassery in the process:
1. The first step is admitting that there is a problem.
No, all of your needs cannot be met through your child or even your spouse, unless something is really, really wrong with you. (Do you disagree? Then this probably isn’t the article for you. I bid you farewell.)
2. Get yourself together.
No one wants to be friends with someone who looks like they need help. You have to appear as if you have your shit together, even if you don’t. So stand up straight, brush your hair, and try to resemble the kind of person that you would want to be friends with.
3. Put yourself out there.
That means you’re going to have to make eye contact. (Sorry, introverts!) Join groups, blah, blah, blah. All of the usual advice about how to make friends in adulthood says the same thing: find a hobby or join a club. I don’t think that’s necessarily helpful, if you join a club and then proceed to be weirdly silent and non-participatory. If you want to make friends, you have to take risks. And yes, it is totally acceptable (and even encouraged) to take a shot of liquor first.
4. Follow up.
What do you mean, you don’t know what I’m talking about? You find a person who seems normal, stalk them on social media, and if you deem them normal enough to send a friend request, YOU FOLLOW UP. Ask her to meet for coffee, invite the kids over to play, use that common sense and creativity, mama. You’ve made it this far — I believe in you.
5. Develop a thick skin.
Sometimes, people aren’t going to like you. It’s pretty much exactly like the speech I give my third-grader every day before school: Just be yourself, because you’re awesome, and it’s okay if not everyone thinks you’re great, because those people are stupid. You might attempt to befriend several people who turn out to really grate on your nerves. Or, you may grate on theirs. It’s fine to keep trying, because eventually, you will find someone who is just as epically effed up as you are, and then you will be best friends forever and all of this angst will be worth it.
6. Remember that your kids are watching.
Do you gossip or just generally talk shit about other people within earshot of tiny humans? Then your kids are probably going to do that, too. Do you whine and moan when people don’t like you? Then your children may also grow up to be whiners (perhaps with a touch of victim mentality). Teach your kids how to function in society by taking control of your own life. Show them how to be a brave badass who wins friends and influences people with her awesomeness. (Even if you don’t actually believe it.)
Now go on — get out there and snag yourself some quality, life-long mom friends. YOU CAN DO IT!