My Kid Doesn't Need to Like Your Kid for Us to Be Friends

mom friendsFor most of my children's lives, my best friend has been a woman who had no children. In the past two years, she has become the mother of an adorable, playful, energetic little boy whom my 7-year-old daughter adores.

But never once, in all of our years of friendship (going on 18 years now!), have I ever questioned whether or not our motherhood status should affect our friendship. 

It wasn't a factor.

We have helped each other through dating disasters, horrible breakups, bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, early motherhood, divorce, deaths in the family, and everything in between. So while we love each other's children, whether or not they get along well and become friends with each other doesn't matter at all.

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The truth is, for a mom to be happy, she needs a few things: healthy children, a strong primary relationship/marriage, a loving family, and, of course, a handful of close friends.

Because our lives revolve so much around our kids, very often those friends will also be moms. But there is no need for our children to be friends too.

mom friends
My closest friend and our kids.

A few years back, I met a woman in an expectant mom running group. We ran together until she went into labor, and then after her son was born, until mine was, too. A few months later, we ran together again. Every Sunday, we got up at 5 a.m., met on a certain street corner, and went for a run. Sometimes it was five miles, sometimes 20. But we always did it just the two of us, together.

Our sons were only two months apart, but I could count on one hand the number of playdates we ever had with the boys in tow. It's not that I disliked her kids. It's just that our friendship was completely separate of our children. Would it have been nice to all hang out as families? Sure. But that never happened.

It didn't make us any less close.

Without our friends, we'd have no one to consult on our major life decisions, no one to call in the middle of the night while we are nursing, and no one who intimately understands all the challenges mothers face.

I am a mom, but it doesn't define me. I am many other things as well. I refuse to limit my capacity for friendship by whether or not our children get along -- or whether she has kids at all.

Compatibility is a precious thing. So are those very close friendships with people who truly do get you.

How many times in your life do you meet a woman (or a man) you instantly click with? The kind of person who gets all your jokes, shares the same sense of humor, doesn't get offended by your honesty, and is also brutally honest herself? It's rare. So you would really toss that aside just because your kids don't get along or are just really different from each other? Or because you're not wild about each other's children?

Friendship has nothing to do with those wonderful little people you're raising.

Last year my 7-year-old daughter met a girl two years older than her. She worshipped her with all her heart, but somewhere along the way (the details are still fuzzy), they had a falling-out.

It was a shame because both my husband and I like this girl's parents. They're funny, cool, laid-back, and fun. Children are capricious and fickle. One minute someone is their bestie, the next it's someone else.

The fact that our daughters were no longer tight didn't stop us from being friendly with the girl's parents. They might have fallen out of favor with each other, but we didn't. If parents based our friendships on our kids' whims, we'd lose friends all the time.

Children are still experimenting with what "friendship" means. Adults aren't. Or shouldn't be, at least!

My daughter has since become friends with that girl again, and the two of them play happily. But I am under no illusion that it will last. Doesn't really matter, though. It won't stop me from calling her mom for coffee or inviting her and her husband over for dinner.

Good girlfriends are hard to find, and whether or not your 5-year-old wants to share her tinker toys with her toddler really shouldn't be a deciding factor in whether those relationships last.

There are coffee dates, movie evenings, spa days, and dinners to which children aren't invited. For any adult woman, mom or not, there is a significant portion of her life that is her own. We are grown-ups, not kids on the playground. That separation is healthy. So why on Earth would I waste compatibility with a potential friend because her kid is having a bad day (or bad year)? Or because our children are not two peas in a pod?

Friendship is crucial and something to be treasured. If I make a friend, I'm keeping her. My son and daughter have their own friends. If they happen to also click with my friends' kids, great. If I happen to click with their friends' moms, even better. We can all get together more.

But if that isn't the case, it's okay. Either way, we all win.

Do you insist your friends' kids be compatible with your own?

 

 Image © iStock.com/dnberty

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