Friends are the family we choose for ourselves, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn and grow as a mother from the type of friends you have.
There is a famous adage that goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a mum of two fairly young kids, I find that saying to be true. My children have interacted with a parade of people – teachers, godparents, family friends, neighbours – and their lives are richer and better for it.
But just as it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village – a different type of village – to raise and empower a mother. Having a child automatically inducts a woman into the big, scary, chaotic world of motherhood. You know, that “world” where the rules are completely made up and the points don’t matter. But it takes far more to help a mum transition into the mother she will become and needs to be. She’s going to need her own unique village to help her do that.
The Long-Time BFF
All mummies need her BFF. Your BFF is someone who’s known you before you ascended/descended to the heights/depths of motherhood, and seen you through your academic, career and life triumphs and failures. She’s the one who can help you “keep it real”, telling you, yes, that orange maternity dress is awful and paying $200 for a baby onesie is nuts and completely unnecessary. At the same time, she’s also the one who will cover up for you and pretend she bought that ridiculously priced onesie should your hubby ask.
The Swinging Single Friend
This is the person who will keep you connected to the non-parent parts of the world. It is hard to recall for some of us, but we were single, footloose and fancy free once upon a time. The Swinging Single Friend raises the non-mummy quotients in your life; she tells you where you can find clothes for yourself, she updates you on general non-children related matters and, sometimes, she even takes you out and coaxes you to have something more than orange juice and go home – gasp! – past midnight.
The Mummy Mentor
While most mummies have mummy friends, it is essential to have a mummy mentor – an older been-there-done-that mum you can look up to. Why older? Because it is only in seeing the fruits of her labour (pun unintended) that you can determine if you’d actually want to pick up parenting tips from her. You may not always see eye to eye, but she acts as a guide to how you would want your life to be.
The Tiger Mummy
Most mums would claim they would rather not sing the proverbial hymn of the Tiger Mom. But let’s be frank, being friends with a Tiger Mother can have its perks. You are always kept abreast of the latest developmental technologies and research; you are kept in the loop on the latest classes and enrichment programmes to hit the market even if you don’t send your kids to them. She is the mummy friend who has reviewed and visited all the kindys you might be interested in and probably has an excel sheet to make comparisons. She can make your life a whole lot more efficient if you could just get a grip with your competitive nature.
The Mummy in Distress
I run a training consultancy and I specialised in leadership development for a good part of my career. One of the simplest but most effective leadership philosophies is Learn-Do-Teach-Lead. Having a Mummy in Distress Friend means you get to flex your mothering skills and knowledge while not really having the drama right in your house. It means you get to give solicited advice (everyone likes to play Aunt Agony); you get an added avenue to test out parenting tips you have come across and you gain a whole lot of perspective on how great your life actually is. Invaluable.
The Social Media Mummy Friend
Bill Gates once called the Internet as the town square for the global village of tomorrow. Social media has redefined how we communicate and the definition of friendships. We are able to keep pace and keep up with friends living on the other side of the globe and interact with them as though they lived mere minutes down the street. The Social Media Mummy Friend, especially if she lives halfway across the globe, is a great friend to have in your corner for she offers a glimpse into a life different from yours. But, through interacting with her, you’ll realise you both are not that different after all. Because of her, your world is oddly bigger and smaller at the same time.
The Much Younger Friend
Maybe this is a person you mentor at work, or someone you met at the gym. The Much Younger Friend will keep you from devolving into what I jokingly call the Matron-Slob Mummy Abyss. This person keeps you recent, current and fresh by taking you (and maybe even your kids) out to do crazy “young people” stuff. She is essential because she breathes a newness of fresh possibilities into your life.
The Husband Friend
The most balanced mums I know have a relationship with their husbands outside of their joint roles as parents. And I’m not talking taking weekly date nights here – though that’s definitely important too. I am referring to the friendship you shared even before you got together – when you would crack silly jokes and do random things together. When you have that level of friendship with your fellow parent-in-crime, it makes the mummy journey so much more fun.
Friends are the family we choose. Our friends sometimes frustrate, annoy and baffle us; but they also teach, enrich and love us. Katy Perry is wise to declare: “I am every woman and it takes a village to make me who I am.”
Cherie Tseng, mother of two boys – Quentin, 4, and Evan, 2 – runs a regional training consultancy and works primarily out of her home office. In her spare time, she practices aerial circus art and craft like there’s no tomorrow.