I’m Sorry to All My Mom Friends—I Needed You More Than You Know

A mother shares her own challenges in making new mom friends and what’s she’s learned in the process.
building a mom village

Since moving to a new town and having a second child, I’ve searched high and low for my “mom tribe.” And what an exhausting, never-ending experience it has been to form, foster and forge mom friendships.

After nearly three years of settling into our new home and city, I am just now feeling a sense of belonging in my community. Understandably speaking, my time and energy is constantly vacuumed up by my little ones as a SAHM. Whether you’re a “working mom” or a SAHM, our world revolves around our kids, sucking us in to meet their every need—typically above our own needs—and leaving little room for meeting and making mom friends.

Following up with a new connection or circling back after “sick season” causes such a disruption when you’re in the middle of laying the foundation of an adult friendship. It’s a frustrating cycle that leaves you feeling so isolated and lonely. There have been countless times when I just didn’t have the energy to do either action with women whom I genuinely felt a connection to. 

To the mom I met on the playground at the onset of winter and exchanged numbers with, hoping to go on kid-free walks around the lake: I’m sorry I didn’t text you back.

To the mom who delivered a generous, nourishing postpartum meal after I gave birth to my second daughter because I lacked the energy and motivation to reconnect while caring for two under two: I’m sorry I ghosted you.

To the mom I met at Toddler Yoga and felt self-conscious about reconnecting with after a rough winter of illnesses: I’m sorry it took me so long to reply to your message.

To the “working mom” who asks to go for drinks after bedtime when I’m too exhausted from a day of chasing my kids around my house: I’m sorry; I wish I could make it work, but I’m just so tired. 

To the mom who is often available, but I decline most of her invitations: I’m sorry that I struggle with anxiety and depression. 

Forging these new bonds with other moms is one challenge of motherhood that I didn’t even consider prior to matrescence, but I have found that these relationships are exceedingly valuable when you’re in the throes of childrearing:

Moms need moms.

What’s even more defeating about this conundrum is nestled in the findings of a new report published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Associate Professor of Communication Studies Jeffrey Hall found that it takes “roughly 50 hours of time together to move from mere acquaintances to casual friends, 90 hours to go from that stage to simple “friends” status and more than 200 hours before you can consider someone your close friend.”

I’m lucky if I have a 15-minute conversation with a mom on the playground or a couple of hours once a month on a “mom’s night out.” I think I may have just hit the 50-hour mark with some of my “closest” circle of local mom friends this year, which means that my “closest” friends—based on science—are casual friends. 

So, what’s helped me in finding my “mom tribe”?

Here’s what I’ve learned (and I’m still learning):

It’s OK if the relationship doesn’t work. 

I used to take it personally whenever a new friendship fizzled out quickly. And on the other side of it, I used to feel incredibly guilty if I ghosted or ended communication with someone with whom I didn’t feel a spark with. I’ve learned to accept what is and then move on by putting time and energy where the “work” doesn’t feel so laborious but rather more organic.

The hierarchy in desired traits of a mom friend. 

And these are much different than what mattered the most to me pre-kids. For me, the hierarchy is as follows, from most important to least important traits: 

  1. Core values (Do our parenting styles differ? Do we have similar political, social and/or spiritual beliefs? Do we have similar interests outside of parenting, like exercise and nutrition? What drives us?)
  2. Interpersonal and intellectual compatibility (Do our personalities clash? Do we have similar levels of education or career?)
  3. Daily schedule and geographic proximity (Are my kids awake when their kids are sleeping? What do their weekends normally look like? Is it worth traveling 30 minutes, if we can only stay for an hour?)
  4. Ages of children are similar to ages of my own (Will our kids entertain one another? Do they get along?)
  5. Our partners get along (Not a deal breaker but an added bonus if they do!)

Finally, I’ve learned to be vulnerable when it feels like the right move. 

There have been times whenever I craved connection so intensely that I ended up oversharing about my life with someone who hadn’t earned that privilege, leaving me feeling conflicted about my choices. 

There have been times when I circled back because I felt like I was missing out on a great friendship, which took a lot of courage on my part and ended up working out beautifully. There have also been times where I felt incredibly supported and authentically held after admitting my flaws and failures. Without a doubt, Brene Brown’s teachings on authenticity, connection and courage have been a guiding light in navigating the complexities of vulnerability in these moments of growing and learning how to steer and traverse this new territory of creating quality mom friendships.

Although the journey to making mom friends has been a treacherous one, I am beyond thankful for the crew that I’ve assembled. These women make my day, day-after-day, by filling my cup and giving me the fuel to keep going. Whether it’s a simple text reply like “I get it. We can try again tomorrow” or a venting session involving hot tears and warm embraces, these women have added so much value to my life.

If you also find yourself deep in the tricky task of finding your own “mom tribe,” I urge you to keep searching in the places that represent who you are as a mom and as a human being. I implore you to be vulnerable when it’s the right time and place. And I beg you to not let “the one” escape because of your own hubris. 

Like I said, and I’ll forever repeat: Moms need moms. We just do.


  • Katrina Donham

    Katrina is a wife and SAHM of two, living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. In her past life, she was a middle school English teacher in Austin, Texas and NYC. When she can carve out time to herself, she enjoys writing personal essays about parenthood and mental health, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, cooking nutritious meals for her family and dreaming about a life well-lived.

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