How to Maintain Strong Friendships in the Midst of Mothering

How do we do friendship well in the midst of intense parenting years? How do we hold one another up when we barely have the energy to fall into bed at the end of the day?

Each week in the month of May we will be featuring an article on Grace-Filled Motherhood. To see the full series, click HERE.

by Kristin Demery, Kendra Roehl, and Julie Fisk, authors of The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional

“Has it really been two years?” My two girlfriends and I paused to recalculate as we strolled along a walking trail. Our math was correct. After a decade of babies, busy jobs, and living just far enough apart to make gathering a serious effort of schedule coordination and timing, it had been two full years since we’d last met face-to-face. Two years felt like both a lifetime and an eye blink in our friendship of almost fifteen years.

As we walked, we returned immediately to the foundations of friendship we had laid as young professionals, long before children and distance and life got in the way. We skipped over niceties because our time together was precious and fleeting. We wept over hard things, laughed over funny memories, and shared our current dreams. We whispered words of encouragement and commiserated on how inadequate we sometimes feel as parents. We picked up where we left off in our friendship, as though it had been weeks—not years—between our gathering together.

But even as we laughed and cried as though no time had passed, one of my friends shared a quiet story of other friendships ending, of other friends angrily leaving her life during these busy years, of feeling broken-hearted in the face of their anger but also helplessly frustrated as they demanded more from her than she could give.

As I drove home that afternoon, my thoughts turned to the concept of friendship. How is it that this friendship survived the distance and years while others faded or ended abruptly in anger? How do we do friendship well in the midst of intense parenting years? How do we hold one another up when we barely have the energy to fall into bed at the end of the day?

As moms, we’re often the list-makers in our families. As such, we thought we’d share a list of tips that have helped us maintain friendships during these joyful, tough, sticky years:

Keep your circle open. Last fall, a conference speaker challenged us with the idea of keeping our circle open. It’s easy to become insular or surround ourselves with people who look and think just as we do, but having a circle-closed attitude can limit us and stunt growth. Some of our very deepest friendships have come about in serendipitous ways we would never have expected—through common hobbies, through our children’s sports, or through community endeavors we’re passionate about. You never know who your next friend might be.

Consider the big picture. Creating lasting friendships means considering the season of life someone else may be in, giving grace when others need it (and extending it to yourself, too!). Our closest friendships have ebbed and flowed over the years. We understand that there are seasons of busyness, times when we need to move in closer to one another, and times when we give each other space. Deep friendships understand this flow in friendship is okay, while also feeling secure in the knowledge that if a friend is needed, they will be there for us—even if we haven’t connected in a while.

Skip the small talk. Our deepest friendships are the ones that go beyond the surface. If you’re tempted to talk about something you could easily read on your friend’s Facebook page, ignore the impulse in favor of going a little deeper. Authenticity in ourselves fosters authenticity in others.

Ask for help when you need it. We’d like to think we have it all together, but it’s ok to admit that we need help sometimes and to ask for it. Six weeks after our third daughter was born, my husband had neck surgery and couldn’t lift anything over five pounds—including our newborn. On top of that, I woke up with debilitating vertigo a few days after his surgery. I went from feeling like I could handle our new family of five to feeling like an overwhelmed, hot-mess failure. Sobbing, I called my friends, who immediately stepped in with a schedule of meals to help lessen our load. When someone offers assistance, don’t turn it down. Be honest about your needs, even—or especially—when it requires vulnerability.

Stay connected. The three of us have an ongoing text thread where we share news, prayer requests, and funny memes. Although virtual connections can’t really replace face-to-face contact, having a running dialogue helps maintain connection when life is too full to meet in person.

Make time for your friendship. We love the idea of imperfect hospitality. Who cares what your house looks like? A true friend doesn’t. They’ll just be glad you opened your home—and your heart—to them. Prioritize time with a community of women with whom you can be honest and safe—after all, deep friendships grow and stay strong during the busy seasons, when we are intentional to take the time available to us.

Understand that friendship is messy. As close as my friends and I are to one another, it has come at a cost. We’ve hurt one another’s feelings and had to apologize along the way. We are all imperfect, and we need to understand and give grace to one another. We choose to believe the best about each other instead of the worst.

Find people who will pray for you. True friends know our imperfections and love us anyway. Our friends who have maintained the strongest ties through the years are the ones who not only recognize our flaws, but see the best in us, too—the God-designed dreams we have, our pursuit of joy, the love we have for our children. They see these things through the lens of the love Christ has for each of us. This adds a deeper, richer nuance. True friends see us in the midst of our pain and problems, but cheer us on to what lies ahead.

These are just a few of the ways we’ve maintained friendships throughout our mothering. We hope our story challenges you to look for someone around you who may need a friend, or that it encourages you to reach out to an old friend you haven’t connected with lately. Either way, our hope is that you will find strong friendships in the midst of mothering.

The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional by Kristin Demery, Kendra Roehl, Julie Fisk

What would happen if you and your family committed to doing one act of kindness each day for a year?
Our world desperately needs more kindness. Whether it’s on social media, in the news, or between your arguing kids it can seem like conflict and disconnection are everywhere. But imagine how much better life would be if we got intentional about being kind!

This year, embark on a journey to make kindness a part of your life, home, and soul. In The One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional, you’ll find Scripture passages and inspirational personal stories about why God calls us to show kindness, what it means to live a life of generosity, and how you can incorporate kindness into your everyday routine (and teach it to your kids) with tons of simple, easy-to-do ideas.

Show your world the kind of love that is possible with daily acts of kindness that will change your heart, inspire your family, and draw you closer to God.

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