With the end of the school year fast approaching, I thought this would be the year that I would make some “mom friends.”
You know: Shuffle our children off after school for play dates, go out to dinner every once in a while, get tipsy laughing over the school principal, maybe go for walks in the mornings… but it didn’t happen.
As a working mother, I feel lost, lonely, and left out amongst the tribe of mothers at my children’s elementary school. It’s an odd feeling. You feel like everyone is best friends and you’re the new kid at school.
Whether it’s true or not, it doesn’t matter. You’re not in the everyday mix, so you have to re-introduce yourself at every school function, every baseball game and every day at the pool or park. You feel like you’re in kindergarten again trying to make friends. The feelings of insecurity, and every little self-esteem issue you have or thought you put to bed, rises back to the surface like a volcano ready to erupt.
And I hate that.
As a working mother, one of the hardest things to do is to navigate yourself within the sea of the other parents; I’m not there at pick-up, at the playground, and I’m not around to have small-talk and develop friendships. I’m just not there. In some ways, I like that I’m not involved in the drama, but in other ways it’s hard because the real issue is not really how you are feeling, it’s how these feelings affect your children’s feelings, self-esteem, and social lives. Let’s face it, these days most of our children have better social lives than we do.
I know that I am projecting my insecurities about this onto my children.
And I hate that.
Don’t get me wrong, my boys have friends. They have play dates, but (and isn’t there always a “but”) they don’t get to see, play, and hang with their friends that often. The other day a group of their friends were playing on the lawn of our neighbors, as my boys were peering out the window like little puppies. I could see in their eyes that they wanted to go out there so badly. When they asked me to go play, it was one of the hardest things to do as a mom to tell them no and to explain to them that the neighbors were having a barbeque. I couldn’t let them go because I didn’t want to send them out there to set them up for a letdown. What would happen when they ran into the backyard to continue the barbeque fun? I tried to explain that it didn’t mean that those friends were not their friends; it’s just that sometimes we aren’t invited. Truth be told, I was feeling left out too, so I quickly redirected their attention to something else. I thought I buried the issue nicely until the next day, as we drove past the neighbors house my eldest son said, “Mom, maybe next year we’ll be invited to that barbeque, and I can play with my friends”.
I cried. And I hate that I cried. But I did. I hate these feelings of insecurity. What’s wrong with me? I’m a grown woman, secure in so many avenues of my life but this. This issue taunts me. Why am I so insecure over this?
I think it’s because the guilt of not being home is hard enough, but now that it’s negatively affecting my children’s socialization, it’s even tougher. If I was home I’d be around to mingle, make those connections and friendships, and so would my children. I have such feelings of angst over this, I was actually crying to my best friend about it. I found the support I needed, and thankfully she had gone through it as well. After she talked me off the insecurity ledge, I felt a lot better.
But, (here’s that “but” again) the bigger question I believe is: How the heckdo I raise secure and confident boys if I’m not secure and confident?
I wish I had a concrete answer to this question, but I don’t. I know that I will continue to support my children and help build their confidence and self-esteem. I know that I will continue to foster my children’s friendships as best as I can as a working mother, and I know that it doesn’t matter if I have mom friends. I have an army of friends who I would do anything for, who love me, protect me, and support me. All I can do is the best I can with what I have, and that has to be good enough.