I'm Moving Across the Country, and I Really Hope My Mom Friendships Survive the Distance

Jun 23 2020 - 2:10pm

I'm about to enter into a long-distance relationship [1]. Several, in fact. My treasured mom friendships are about to be tested as my family and I move halfway across the country this summer.

I'm a little worried about the future of these relationships. It took three years for me to get comfortably ingrained into my second grader's school. I slowly but surely got into the rhythm, learned some of the politics, and dodged the bad seeds. Most importantly, I found my people [2]. My mom friends and I bonded over the heartening and hand-wringing business that is raising kids. And now I have to do that all over again? Achieving the daunting task of making mom friends [3] is especially notable for me — a natural introvert with RBF who sometimes take a while to warm up to people. So you'll understand that I'm not about to just walk away quietly from these friendships.

Some people will say that mom friends can only operate at the most superficial level, reducing it to shared sidewalks and soccer schedules. They say that these relationships can't hold a candle to lifelong friends. But I'm going to disagree because I think my mom friends are essential [4], and not just because we can trade war stories on how tiny humans exited our body.

Coronavirus has given us an unexpected dress rehearsal for this permanent separation. The stay-at-home orders meant that much of our interaction for the last couple of months has been reduced to Zoom calls [5], group texts, and the sweet gesture of socially distanced donut drop-offs.

But a more permanent separation is coming. As much as I'm worried about a different time zone separating my mom friends and I, there's still reason to think these relationships have a fighting chance. Here's why I have hope for the future of these friendships.

We've bonded over mutual vulnerability.

We've seen each other at our worst [7] and that kind of stuff bonds women. Once you've shown your warts and flaws, there's no going back. If you haven't had the best day and those same friends still show up for you the next day, that's saying something. It would be exhausting and impossible to keep up a charade that we all have it together. So, it's all in the interest of realness. Mom friends see you in your natural state, even if that's frazzled and flailing. I take seriously the trust they've shown to be real and vulnerable in front of me, and vice versa. That kind of honesty has to be able to withstand different area codes.

They are better (and cheaper!) than therapy.

When you know each other as moms, there is an implicit understanding that someone always has wipes in their purse and we all laugh with our legs crossed to avoid ruining the same flattering black Spanx pants that we all probably own. But it's so much more than that. True mom friendships embody empathy [8] at the highest level. Mom friendships are validation that we are not alone because we all speak the same language. They inform us that bizarre phases are fleeting, remind us to brace for hard days, compel us to celebrate small victories, and validate our concerns.

We value each other's therapeutic input even more given the time we've personally invested in getting to know each other's kids and families. So we really mean it when we say "I love your kids like my own," and the desire to maintain a relationship then extends beyond just your mom friend.

We'll never stop needing to ask questions.

We can't discount the valuable consulting services provided by a solid mom group. There is a universal element to raising kids that isn't confined to geography [10]. My friends and I will be going through the same thing, just in different states. Mom friends are your real-life Google for parenting. What's the going rate for the tooth fairy? Is anyone else struggling with this newfangled way of doing fractions? Does saying "newfangled" mean we're officially old? How do we feel about these sports bras? The line of questioning gets more complex as our kids get older, and there is seemingly no end point for leaning on each other for answers. In other words, there's no expiration date for parenting.

With high school friends or work friends, your relationship likely exists in finite terms. You graduate and you move onto other jobs. But there is no end point for mothering. There are many seasons of parenting, and that kind of continuity can really tether you to your mom friends.

There's more I need to learn from them.

It's said that you shouldn't be smarter than your boss to ensure that you'll be able to learn and grow from them. In a similar vein, I think you're in good company if there's a lot you can learn from your friends [11]. There is an aspirational quality to these friendships because there's something in each of them that I strive for in myself.

One mom friend has an unmatched generosity to go with her pristine house and impeccable sense of style; one has a really lovely and honest approach to her daughters that I hope to emulate as my own girls get older; and one's personal adversity and quiet strength is simply admirable. They have a lot to offer me as mothers and women, and I want to be able to reap the benefits of that even after I move.

So will my mom friendships survive the distance without the common ground of the same school, neighborhood, and pick up points? I really think so. Because maybe the grand takeaway here is that the really rich, deep mom friendships will evolve to true friends who you just happened to have met when you were moms.

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