I recently read this insightful post on why it’s hard to be friends with other moms and found myself nodding in agreement. My husband, as is the case with the post’s author, is the naturally charming, likeable one. He’s the one who builds friendships. I’m the one who turns people off.
Also like the post’s author, I thought motherhood would provide a natural bond for me, sort of a sisterhood of stretch marks. Unfortunately, at least at my kids’ schools, this isn’t the case. For starters, I have little in common with many of these moms. Few of them work outside the home and they give me a sad look when they hear I do (as if we’ve fallen on hard times and I’m being forced to sell my hair and jewelry).
They all know my kids–they’ve been on the field trips and seen the chapel programs I’ve missed because I was explaining the allegory of “Young Goodman Brown.” They’ve helped at the Christmas party, opening up the treats I dropped of that morning; meanwhile, I’m grading annotated bibliographies. They volunteer at the pep rallies and book fairs, hand out awards, and take pictures. My daughter often asks why her friend’s mom eats lunch with them several times a week, but I can’t. “Because Mommy has class, ” is a tiresome answer.
I’m conflicted about it. On one hand I’m jealous (and suspicious for no reason) of these women who get to spend so much time with my daughter. On the other, I love working. Perhaps this is intensely selfish, but I feel like I need an identity outside of being a mother. I like to go to a place where, for several hours a day, I do something I’m good at, that I spent years studying to do, and possibly help other kids beside my own.
In the end, it is not these other mothers who exclude me–it is my own choices. And so I avoid them so I can avoid answering questions about why I wasn’t at some event, or why I work. When it comes down to it, my friends are my own and my children’s are their own. There isn’t a big Ven diagram that says these elements have to overlap. Although, it sure would make things easier.