Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"But You've Got to Have Friends"

I've had that song intermittently stuck in my head ever since Jackson watched the scene in Shrek where Donkey sang it to Shrek. I digress already...

One of my biggest fears about being a stay at home mom was that I would be isolated and never leave my home. I quickly learned how to navigate the town with four children in tote. I found free entertainment and bought the museum membership so I could offer fun activities for the kids. Still, I felt like all my friends were at work doing their own thing while I was alone with the kids, feeding geese for the 500th time.

It took a few months for me to get involved with a local mom's groups. Now that I spend every waking hour with the kids, I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything with the kids by attending book club, bunco, dinner, or Bible study in the evenings. In fact, I'm really not missing anything since I rarely leave before I put the triplets to bed. 

People assume I never get out, but the surprising truth is that I am significantly more social now that I'm no longer working. When I first started teaching, I devoted all of my energy to teaching high-needs children and spending long hours preparing lessons. By the time my workday was over I wanted to crawl in a cave and ignore most everyone except Jesse. The only social group I had was my grad school study group. Once Jackson was born, Jesse and I worked opposite hours so we were essentially two single parents. Everything I did in the evenings and weekends, Jackson did with me. The following year I spent weeknights struggling to keep up with 70+ students in an even more challenging school.  Weekends were spent soaking up every second with Jesse and Jackson. My last year teaching I conceived the triplets, and spent the year in a completely exhausted state. My "social outings" were monthly National Board meetings.

In the past year as a SAHM, I've learned a few things about making friends as an adult:
1. It takes risks meeting new people 
2. Some moms can be extremely competitive and pretentious.
3. Social media is a great networking tool for moms, too. 
4. Being a mother of multiples or having a child in the same preschool is not a prerequisite to being friends. Those things are not enough common ground alone to form friendships.
5. Making friends outside of work requires much more intentional effort.

I've also learned that it is next to impossible to maintain friendships with people who aren't interested in children. Thankfully, most of my friends are teachers or mothers and happen to enjoy babies and toddlers. I look forward to monthly dinners with former teammates and catching up with old friends. It's a comfort to have reliable friends who not only care about me, but my whole family. Friends that have known me before I even had children.
Hope you don't mind me stealing your photo, Lucy!
Beautiful day to enjoy the skyline
I am so thankful for all the women in my life who have kept me grounded this past year, offered me advice, and made me laugh so hard I cried. I love having both old and new friends. When people ask, "How do you do it?" I think to myself:
  • I ask my sisters for advice through constant texts or weekly visits.
  • I post (sometimes hourly) on my Triplet Mama's Facebook group to figure out how to feed all three at the same time or what schedule I should follow.
  • I meet up with CharlotteMommies friends to vent about Jackson's tantrums.
  • I pray about challenges and joys with friends and church members.
  • I receive support from old friends who live all over the world through intimate conversations.
  • I have fun distractions and remember I'm more than just a mom while discussing books and playing games.
Bottom line...I am able to balance things with the love and support of some amazing friends!

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