An excerpt from Motherhood Without Guild
by Debra Gilbert Rosenberg
Question and Answer from the section
Motherhood and Friendship
I focus so much energy on my work and family, I've allowed my relationships to slide. How can I avoid feeling totally friendless and still be an attentive wife and mother?
It’s easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day demands of work and family that you forget to schedule in time with friends, but having friends and maintaining outside interests can actually help you be a more fulfilled, and therefore, better, wife, worker, and mother. Lots of things may be contributing to your withdrawal from the social scene, from worry that you’ll bore your friends to feeling genuinely and completely fulfilled by taking care of your job and family. But if you are concerned that you’re becoming a recluse, then you need to find ways to stay close to the people you still care about and make new friends who will be compatible with you and understanding of your current lifestyle.
Fortunately you live in an era in which keeping in touch is easier than ever:
- Use the Internet to check in with friends. You can email or respond to a friend any time of day or night, whenever you have a few minutes. You can even start a note and finish it later if family or duty calls.
- Get a hands-free telephone, or an earpiece for your current phone, so that you can talk with friends while you commute to or from work, or while folding laundry.
- Invite a friend for spontaneous, last minute get-togethers. You don’t need a reason, entertainment, or a lavish spread to see your pals.
- Be creative about when, and under what circumstance, you visit with friends. Invite a friend to keep you company while you run errands, take a yoga class together, or go out for an early breakfast.
- If you genuinely can’t find the time to see your friends, at least tell them that you care and that you hope that they will understand that you’ll want to be with them as soon as you are able. Do your best to maintain telephone or email contact at least a few times a year.
- If you feel that you no longer have much in common with your old friends, make new ones. Join a class or speak to the friendly moms in the park or at the coffee house. Invite a neighbor over for tea.
- Develop friendships with coworkers. Go out to lunch together and talk about things other than work. Start a book group or a cooking club at work so that your professional friends become social friends.
- There are plenty of Internet sites through which you can meet like-minded people. It may not be the same as meeting someone face-to-face, but many Internet friendships can be very satisfying and may take less time away from your other pursuits.
Even if you currently feel no need to socialize now, if you raise your kids to become confident and independent people, before too long, you will have a lot more free time; you are likely to want to use at least some of that time to see your friends. Invest some time in your social life now; make sure that the people you care about stay in your life, and if you want new friends, take the risk and meet new people. Your work and family may always come first, but friends offer a different and equally important satisfaction. It will be worth the effort, both immediately and in the long run, to keep your social life alive.