Recently I asked a couple of working moms I know some questions about what life has been like with their friends both pre and post kids while working. It wasn’t surprising to me to hear that things change with your friends. You often outgrow each other.
The two working moms that I interviewed are Diana Cortes, Owner of ShopLimonada.com an online boutique, and Chelsea Platt Business Development Manager at Visage Pro USA. To give you a little background of them, Chelsea has one little boy who is a toddler and Diana has two little girls, one in pre-school and another in 1st grade. Both are working moms with different life scenarios.
Here is my interview with them.
How do you feel that working cuts into your time with your children and friendships?
- Chelsea: Over the last year and a half my husband has been recovering from a bad car accident. He has been staying home with our son and I have focused on climbing up in the company. I’ve been successful and now even though my husband can go back to work, because of my success, we wound up in a position where he is staying at home and I work. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I have very fond memories of my mom being home. But this is not my deck of cards. I was handed a different deck. And although sometimes it breaks my heart when my son wants my husband over me, I have to remind myself that it’s not about me. That is my sacrifice. I’m happy to bear that burden as my role is vital for the family. Friends? What is that? I faintly remember having some of those at some point. 🙂
- Diana: After my children I was never ready to go back full-time, for me part-time was the perfect combo. I could have a professional life and enough time to miss my babies and then be with them 100%. But then life happens. We moved and I decided to adventure into being a business owner and working from home. It was great as I could be more present and flexible with my kids. But being with them 24/7 and working from home took a toll on my tolerance and made me a little handicapped, socially speaking. I had trouble finding my words that didn’t sound like references to kids cartoons.
- Chelsea: I find that I haven’t faced any challenges with my friends who have children. However, my friends that have not had children tend to be frustrated with me constantly. Not so much anymore, since I think as time goes past they are getting used to how things have changed. Planning things around naps times, etc. I think the thing I was asked most often was, “Just get Randy to watch him so you can come out.” Um, yeah, it doesn’t really work that way. Or another one, “Aren’t you afraid of missing out?” Um, yes, but not with you. That sounds mean. But it’s true. I’m afraid of missing out on time with my son. I work all day and sometimes on the weekends. There is already so much time I am missing out on with him as it is.
- Diana: I married a French man and we moved a few times. So I am far from my friends. I do miss them but technology helps. However, it is hard to keep up with different time zones, schedules and life styles. After several years I’ve also learned that true friends can be counted with one hand. But I’ve been lucky to have found an extraordinary tribe in my neighbors and I just need to cross the street to have a nice conversation.
What would you say to your friends who just don’t get the struggle of juggling family, work, and personal life?
- Chelsea: I normally don’t try to explain it to them. I didn’t “get it” before kids. I don’t think they will somehow understand it with my attempt to provide an explanation. I just try to forgive them for any judgement they make and move on. And the friends that I’ve had for more than 6 years, well, they’ll just keep on being there even through long absences.
- Diana: I would just tell my friends that I loved them very much. I’ll always be there for them but I have leftover pregnancy brain. So they may need to write me in case I forget things. And I’d say that eventually they’ll get where I’m coming from and even if they don’t, because everyone is different, it’s okay. I know that if you are my friend you’ll at least pretend to understand , because I’ll do the same for you too.
In hearing their responses it was comforting to hear how similar the divergence of friendships are. It’s almost like we never grow up but are constantly growing. Seeking out common ground and circling back to old friends when we find new common denominators – kids or big life stages.
When I had my first-born I wasn’t by any means the first of my friends but the first of that immediate group of friends. I remember feeling very alone and isolated from what life used to be like because I didn’t yet understand what happens with friends when life gets more complicated. But like Diana and Chelsea both illustrated, you need to find your new normal. Find the like-minded people who don’t judge or look to you to be someone you were in your past. And even if those people can be counted on one hand, that is okay. Friendships should be about quality, not quantity. Friends should be able to understand your need to balance family, work and personal life, in that order. Don’t be afraid to find new friends that make sense for your life because good friends can diverge and come back together when the time is right.
My hope is that a new mom or any mom struggling with the juggling act of life can find some comfort in hearing these stories and points of view.