Like my body, my relationship with my husband and my sleeping patterns, my ideas of “family” have changed since having kids. I think I had a fairly narrow view before – where family was the unit of people I co-habitated with, through all the awkward stages of growing up. Family was parents, and their kids, sometimes grandparents and other “extended” relatives. You know, the people you had Christmas dinner with. Some people you only saw once a year, and never felt connected to beyond the dull banter of “so what’s new with you?” and yet they were family nonetheless.
And in having children I was “starting my own family,” moving towards a new unit with me sitting at the head of the table, maybe making that tofurkey (I don’t eat turkey!) that everyone awkwardly converses around. And that’s family right?
When Netflix asked me to write about family, because of the clever comedy Grace and Frankie (which stars Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda as “friends” thrown together by circumstance and part of a new kind of family), my mind immediately jumped to my family of friends, the ones I acquired after having kids … my circle of mom friends. Unlike Grace and Frankie, we aren’t very contentious, and the most drama we experience is when one person sneeks the last drop of wine, but like Grace and Frankie we are thrown together by circumstance (the birth of our kids, how we cope with the trials and tribulations of parenthood) and we are stronger together, and for knowing each other.
I have some pretty amazing mom friends, who I have met in various ways: at a support group for depression, standing around waiting for the school bell, or hanging out online chatting on Facebook.
That’s how I met Crystal. We first connected through her Etsy shop, and because we were on a group for moms in our area. Our friendship grew fast (and right from day 1 I knew I needed her in my army).
Mom friends are usually the first people you go to when you have questions about your kids (after your partner … of course!) They are the ones you can really “let it all hang out” with. You know they don’t judge, because they are experiencing similar challenges in their own lives, and even if they aren’t, because they can understand and sympathize with your emotions. They know what it is like to apply for the best daycare, and get that rejection, to struggle to make it to the end of the day (when you can gaze into dark bedrooms at sleepy faces and let out a big sigh), to try, and fail, at finding the perfect life-work-family balance and to eat your way through “that time of the month.” Mom friends don’t judge you for carrying a few extra pounds of “baby weight” and they certainly won’t suggest you maybe not have that next glass of wine, or second piece of brownie! They are, at least for me, the people that hold you up when times get tough, the first ones to say, “You can do it, I believe in you.”
That’s really what family is to me: the people who are in your corner, through thick and thin. They don’t have to be related to you by blood, or to have known you since infancy, but they are usually the ones who know you best, because you’ve let them into a part of you you don’t show freely.
I hope my kids grow into such honest friendships. To find their tribe of “mom friends” even if the “mom” isn’t at all applicable. Because it really just means, family, family that loves and supports and says, “do you want another?”
Who makes up your family?
Check out Grace and Frankie on Netflix.
Disclosure: Thank you to Netflix for providing me with free service. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.