Squad. Tribe. Mom friends.
Where is my “ride or die”?
I think about this often as I scroll social media and see others posting about their #rideordie and #squadgoals. It makes me feel empty. Certainly jealous. And always, always lonely and self-defeated wondering why I can’t have that.
I mean, I’m pretty cool. I’m nice. I’m a good listener. I would drop everything to help someone who needed me. I’m a good friend.
But on Fridays, you find me at home with my family. You can also find me there Saturdays through Thursdays. It’s easier to be home than make plans. And besides, making plans risks rejection and who needs one more thing to stress about anyway?
So I sit at home, braless and in my comfy sweatpants, and begrudge my inability to make mommy friends.
It’s the ultimate vicious circle, it seems.
But where’s the time right? I spend my days hustling between being the family taxi driver and an employee for a company that values my work, ignores the coffee stains on my shirt, and generally laughs off my ridiculous stories about why I’m late. I make time for errands, appointments, and activities somewhere in the mix.
Nighttime is a sacred time for my family, and by sacred, I mean completely loving chaos. It’s the only time we even make eye contact, it seems. Our dinner table isn’t complete without food throwing, plenty of complaining, and at least one tantrum. But it’s our time and it’s beautiful in the “I know I’m going to miss this” way.
Weekends are a subtle tag-you’re-it game between my husband and me over who is watching the kids and who can sit back in their chair. Sometimes weekends go by and I yearn for Monday when I feel semi-productive and at the very least showered and dressed beyond sweats. Other weekends go by and I wonder if I had any time at all for me, or the days feel like such a blur I can’t even make out what happened and if we left the house once.
I suppose you get out what you put in. And when I don’t put any time into friendships, I can’t expect to get out anything at all. But I also wonder where others get their time. Do they need less sleep than me? Do they squeeze it in during lunches when I’m usually slumped over my computer with a protein shake and some trail mix?
And I cannot underestimate the mental effort.
As a mom, energy is absolutely a currency I must weigh carefully before spending—I hold onto it tight because it is scarce and so precious. Will a happy hour date with besties fill my bucket, or drain me with gossip-fueled cadence? It might seem like an inconsequential question before kids, but after kids, this will make or break my participation. I need a gang that fills, inspires, and pushes each other to be our best. The adrenaline rush of gossip and nay-saying has slid off my grid right along with my desire to check out trendy bars and a passion for high heels.
Finally, I think about the drain on the family. Yes, this sounds crazy. How could time with friends drain my family? But a simple visit is never so simple. First, I need to determine who is watching my kids during this time. My husband? Great. Does he know or has he made other plans? If he’s busy, I need to find a babysitter. This is never a simple text. This is outreach to multiple people, starting with relatives and working my way out from there.
Suddenly, a fun girls’ night is a $50 babysitting gig for someone. And yes, I deal with some guilt. Guilt at missing out on family time. Guilt at not being able to help out my husband with the bedtime routine. Guilt at hiring a babysitter. Guilt at spending money.
It might seem trivial but do not underestimate the power of mama guilt. It is all-consuming.
What if it’s not even in my control? What if this strange, perplexing game of friendship poker is actually because I’m not a lot of fun to be around? I’d like to shake those feelings away, but it’s hard not to notice the maybe-my-invite-got-lost-in-the-mail events and try not to take it personally. I know I lost a lot of my cool when I became a mom. Maybe it’s worse than I thought.
When I lay down my hand of cards, I can see why I don’t have a mom squad in my back pocket. Logically, it makes sense. But emotionally, it still hurts. I crave those friend connections the same as anyone and it’s hard not to feel the void.
Maybe time will ease up. Maybe friends will bloom in the crevices of where I live day-to-day. Or maybe, I am not #rideordie material, maybe I’m not made for that type of relationship. But the truth is my real squad is staring right at me at home. They’re my kids and my husband. They stick by me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Their love for me is unconditional as is mine for them. And isn’t that what they really mean by #rideordie?