The Crunch of Friendships as a Mom

A few weeks ago, my friends took the day off to stand-up paddle board somewhere nearby Pittsburgh on a river.  The whole experience looked pretty cool despite the fact that it was in a river (of course, I would say that).  Anyway, my friends, both working and stay-at-home grabbed a Living Social deal and off they went.

I must say that I am NOT complaining to my friends in the least, but rather dealing with my own inner-demons in this post.

I was absolutely invited to grab the deal and go, but I knew that I did not have as much flexibility in my schedule during the few weeks that they were planning to go, so I did not buy the deal.

Part of me desperately wishes that I could have gone.  It looked fun, athletic, and was outside in the sun which is basically everything I like, but I could not go.  Again, I do not wish to complain to my friends or make them feel bad as this was all ME.  I made a choice to change gears with my life, so why was I being such a baby?  I was tormenting myself over the damn paddle river thing.  Tormenting myself.

There is all this talk about moms and work/life balance and personal fulfillment, and let’s not forget, paying the bills.  The mommy wars just continues to grow larger and larger.  Working moms vs. Stay-at-Home Moms seems to have given way to ‘Working Moms with perceived flexibility’ to Moms who pursue Power Careers.  The discussion always seems to include reflection on multiple reasons behind why moms work (money, gratification, both) along with time spent away from vs. hours with children, and was recently ignited big time in The Atlantic (which has been plastered all over the media).  Which was so obviously extreme and should not be bothered with … Thank you Samantha Ettus for that reminder!

The discussion always includes anecdotes about missing the school play or ballet recital or soccer championship for a business trip or a meeting.  The lack of time to exercise, snag a beauty treatment, or time for sex typically makes an appearance in the commentary, too.  To be honest, I know first hand that SAHM’s also struggle to find time to take care of themselves and be intimate.  No matter what a mom’s position – working or not – the commentary continues to grow on how to be who we want to be and how to FIT it all in to 24 hours/day, and how our spouses need to be a more equal partner (Amen).

In all of this talk, where is the mention of friends?  Do women not deserve friendship or is it not perceived as crucial to our well-being?  Perhaps, not worthy of discussion? To me (especially since I have no sisters or sister-in-laws) friendship mean a lot, yet apparently there is no debate on whether losing time with them to career choices or deciding to take care of kids full-time is a MAJOR loss.

Sometimes, I feel as though I owe my friends an apology.  Not just my kids, husband, or my extended family, but my friends, too.  Not so much an apology, but some long-winded story about why I need to do what I need to do for me and me alone.  The gratification of seeing my product move through various stages of development AND writing have become imperative to my self-worth as a person.  I feel the urge to make sense of why this whole expedition adventure is vital to me, and say ‘thanks for understanding.’

In the same breath, I would say – I miss you.  I miss the birthday lunches that I cannot attend, I loved that night we went to a movie and drinks in sweats a LONG time ago, and I really f***ing wanted to go paddle whatever in the river (but I couldn’t and it was my own fault and it sucks).

So, not only do I have to work this week on July 5th and my kids have to sit home with a sitter on a day that I think many take a holiday, but I feel disconnected at times from peer contact.  Why do I never see this mentioned in the posts on balance and fulfillment and women and working or not?  Are we supposed to derive our contact through work? Our spouse? Or playgroup?  I don’t think so.  We are complex social beings, and peer-to=peer interaction is a part of that, so in the discussion, we must mention that sometimes friendships suffer and in turn, we as women have yet another area in which do not feel as though we are living up to the standard.

…And for this I feel wretched.  I still love my friends and wish that I could be with them a lot more because I need that!  If life were the movies, I would be in Abu Dhabi with my friends drinking cocktails and laughing (oh wait – that is a movie).  However, there are only 7 nights in a week and my kids need me and  often I have networking event or blog assignment and the occasional night with my husband to chat about God Only knows what, and well then, I am tired and I cannot always get a sitter….and, I don’t want to feel sorry for myself, but I wish I had more time for the girls.

Just as the sadness was creeping over me in regards to the paddle boarding and missed opportunities, my friends rallied around me on a few work projects and scheduled a movie night and a cookout and I realized that just like the missed basketball game – there will always be another friend event that is awesome.

No matter what, we struggle as women to be the best mom, wife, partner, and friend while growing a career, business, or managing our house and it just doesn’t always feel right….but, there are those few times that it does work which make all the struggle worthwhile.

Do you feel the crunch of friendships as a mom?


{ 18 comments… add one }

  • Jenny from Mommin' It Up July 2, 2012, 12:40 PM

    This is an excellent point Rachel! I have several good girlfriends and we do play dates and things with the kids, but we have a hard time getting together ALONE to catch up, de-stress, and validate one another. Since my husband works late I am often the odd one out, missing out or showing up late, and it stinks. Friendships are so important. And so is EVERYTHING ELSE! *sigh*
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    • Rachel Blaufeld July 2, 2012, 12:47 PM

      *sigh* is so right.
      it is going to be 2015 by the time we plan to meet up…. with Emily.

  • Liz July 2, 2012, 12:49 PM

    YES. This comes up for me at least once a month. Most of my very close friends are child-free. I totally beat myself up over the missed parties, the lost opportunities, bla bla. Then my kid doesn’t something cute and I melt. Then I beat myself up again.

    Well, at least I’m not alone. Too bad we don’t have time to be friends.
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    • Rachel Blaufeld July 3, 2012, 6:30 AM

      When I look at my kids – everything seems worth it 😉

  • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles July 2, 2012, 1:27 PM

    I think that there is always something that will be missed. Your friends, assuming that they truly understand you, will be fine with that. Don’t feel guilty, Rachel. Instead, why not try to plan something at a time when you ARE free?
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    • Rachel Blaufeld July 2, 2012, 1:33 PM

      somehow that makes me feel selfish – like something else must revolve around me.

  • Laura Collins July 2, 2012, 1:33 PM

    Your blog really touched me because my friends are like family to me.

    My friends recently threw me a surprise birthday party, and I felt honored that these incredible women took the time to celebrate with me. They are all busy, one is in the middle of a book promotion tour, one is a famous actress, one is a fashion designer starting a new job in NYC, one has three jobs!!, one lives down in San Diego, etc…

    We often have to go weeks and sometimes months between seeing each other (together we have more than 20 kids too), but the resounding feeling I got from the gathering of about ten women is that we support each other in spirit even when we can’t be together.

    I’m 52, and it’s taken me some time to realize that your true friends are the ones who applaud everything you do right, and are also there to lend a shoulder when things go wrong. They aren’t there to make you feel inept, or depressed, or “less than” whoever your are.

    The “no pressure” friendship is a blessing in a busy life. It’s also important for some flexibility! I try not let petty things, that could be done another time, get in the way of something that I know has meaning to a friend. On the other hand, I deeply appreciate my friends who understand that I have serious obligations to may family and my business, so sometimes I can’t participate as much as I would like. But I grant them the very same understanding.

    True friendships can stand the test of time ad circumstance, when we are empathetic to each other–and really want to be supportive of each other!

  • Kara July 3, 2012, 7:24 AM

    Love you girl! Remember: While you are trying to make a living don’t forget to make a life. XO

  • Liza July 3, 2012, 7:32 AM

    Rach- among the multitude of things that I can not seem to make time for, my time with friends is certainly on the list; for as important as my friendships are I find that they are the last thing I pay attention to. I am just grateful to have so many wonderful understanding women in my life who go through a similar struggle; we are friends no matter how much time we get to spend together. And for what it’s worth to you, I will likely never have the luxury of paddling on a river on a weekday afternoon. xoxo

    • Rachel Blaufeld July 3, 2012, 7:58 AM

      we are friends no matter what! not to mention the UGLY photos you have of me stashed somewhere –

  • Jesse Cruz July 3, 2012, 1:09 PM

    The irony of course is that “dad’s” don’t feel this – at least most of them don’t.

    That “never good enough” is exactly what makes us excel just moments before we go mad. For me it’s not so much about balance or guilt – it’s about avoiding madness. Quite literally.

    In the end – never apologize. You do what you do, and that’s all. They’ll get it or they won’t. And there’s therapy available for those left in the wake.

  • Mary July 3, 2012, 7:31 PM

    I relate to this on so many levels. I feel like friendships really makes this shift as soon as we find significant romantic partners. Then you add kids and career and you realize that while your life seems full and super busy, you feel lonely. It’s a tough place to be especially when you realize that your friends parent differently than you do, their careers take them in different directions both literally and figuratively and possibly their partners aren’t your favorite people. You can’t help but wonder if you’ll ever find that closeness again. But you’re right that if you work through the struggle and find those few moments when you can hang with friends, it’s so worth it and completely necessary. Thanks!

  • Haralee July 4, 2012, 12:06 PM

    Girlfriends are very important, but you can visit on the phone if you can’t make it in person. Families, jobs, money, there are always things that can get in the way but like everything else you can carve out a bit of time.
    Working as an entrepreneur I know I have to remind friends that I have to get back to work. I can take a morning off or an afternoon off but not generally spur of the moment and usually not back to back. In reality most people can’t do it either with various commitments even if they aren’t working so no need to beat your self up!

    • Rachel Blaufeld July 5, 2012, 6:59 AM

      sometimes I wish that I did not have the flexibility to take a morning off – makes going back that much harder!!

  • Mom101 July 4, 2012, 12:23 PM

    Great questions Rachel. I think that the great thing about truly good friends, is that they stick by you when you’re a busy, less social phase of life, and you can still pick up weeks or months or sometimes years later as if you never left off at all.

    I know I always feel incredibly refreshed and whole again after a night out with the women I love. I try to make it a priority. It doesn’t mean I can say yes all the time, but I do value the yesses so much when I have them.
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    • Rachel Blaufeld July 5, 2012, 7:01 AM

      I value the yesses along with the invites that I have to say no to —

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