Observation is a key strategy here at yayamamas. You can learn so much by simply stepping back and taking time to observe yourself, your children, and your life.
What does your real life friends list look like? People in your family? Your kids? Partner? Mom friends? Work friends? Entire families? Individuals? List them by name and then at least one thing you admire about your friendship.
What do you need out of friendships? Time together? A sounding board? Acceptance? Kindness? Unconditional love and support? Zero judgment? Authenticity? Trust? Dependability? Humor? Forgiveness? For someone to be easy going? Compassion?
What’s not on your list? Perfection? None of us are ever going to say or do the right things at the right times when we are around other mamas. Do you recall a time where you didn’t say or do the right thing in a social situation?
Criteria. Look at your list of needs for friendships. Which need is most important to you? Do you have criteria? (As a personal example, mine is basically kindness and commitment. Friendship to me doesn’t look like “x” amount of time spent together, it’s more a feeling of connection. I want to feel like people are walking beside me and not in front of or behind me. I don’t want to feel judged, just a feeling of mutual respect and growth). What surprised you most on your list?
A huge part of friendship that is often overlooked is not what we get but what we give. What do you offer others in your friendships? Look at your list from yesterday. What on that list do you offer? Can you think of a specific time you offered those important qualities? Write about who and when.
What do you model for your children when it comes to friendships? In other words, how do you talk about people when they aren’t around? Knowing that our kids are always listening and watching and that our actions speak louder than words…what do you think your child picks up on in your casual conversations about friendship? Do you gossip in their presence? Do you try to work out issues? Do they hear you talk about others? If so, how do you talk about them?
If you were to try and look at your friendships through your child’s eyes, what do imagine they see? Kindness? Fun? Joy? Stress? Insecurity? Growth? Honesty? Connection? Are you satisfied with your answers? Can you see both positives and negatives?
A big part of friendship is showing up…in person to moms groups, lunch invites, parties, etc. When you’re invited to functions or play dates, what are your initial reactions? Are you excited to be invited? Nervous? Grateful? Overwhelmed?
Take a look at yourself and do an honest evaluation: are you happy with how much you show up? Are you flakey with plans? Do you feel like others can count on you to show up? When you RSVP “yes,” do you commit? If you’re overwhelmed, how could you make the commitment to invites less stressful?
A big part of friendship is being able to be vulnerable in front of others. Vulnerability, by its truthfulness, builds trust and connection with others. How easy is it for you to be vulnerable in front of people you know? What about people you have just met? Can you think of a time when you were vulnerable and it felt like it backfired? What about a time you were vulnerable and it led to relief or understanding? Do you feel like others can be vulnerable in front of you?
How do you show up for your friends during tough times? Times that are either centered around motherhood (i.e. infertility, miscarriage, death, illness, divorce, etc.) or around non-motherhood issues (loss of job, move, financial trouble, etc.)?
Does offering help or support come easy to you? What is your first instinct when reaching out…Words? Actions? Meals? Babysitting? Giving them space? How was caring for others in times of need modeled for you? What do you feel you are modeling for your children when it comes to helping others during tough times?
If it doesn’t come easy to you, who/what could help you with that? Online resources? Other friends? Have you ever thought about bringing this issue up within your circle of friends outside of a crisis time?