Can single moms and married moms be friends?
Single moms and married moms seem to have nothing in common... can they relate and rebuild friendships after all?
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The other day I was having one of those "taking stock" moments. Now that the divorce drama is over and my ex-husband and I have moved into a "need to know" regarding the kids' situation, I have a little more time to reflect on where I am now. I am in a wonderful place. I am still happy that I made him leave, still happy to be a single mom, still thrilled with the life the kids and I are rebuilding together. I have a wonderful family, great friends and a new lease on life. Only one thing is really bothering me now, and it may seem minor, but I seem to have lost a lot of married friends along the way.
Truth be told, I shoulder the blame for most of it. The disconnection of the friendships, the lack of communication... the lack of desire to correct the situation. But I do miss them. We were friends for a reason, after all. Now, though, as I think it is time for me to reach out and talk to them, I wonder... can single moms and married moms really be friends?
Conventional wisdom would say yes. Moms of any walk of life can be friends. We all have the same joys, frustrations, irritations, exhaustion, unappreciated feelings and so on. We are all women. We are all intelligent, emotional people and it seems, at least on the surface, that our marital status should play no part. Single mom and married mom friendships can be rewarding for both parties. Especially if you had a friendship before a divorce. I do have a very good married mom friend that I cherish deeply. She has four daughters, an extremely understanding husband and a deep desire to keep the friendship on track. When we get together, the seven daughters play together, we ladies hang out and talk for hours and her husband pops in and out, joining in on conversation or passing through as he goes about his day. I think the kids help drive that friendship because they are growing up together. But I love it, and so does she, and it is a friendship well worth continuing.
I have found, in my own personal divorce drama, that maintaining friendships with the married women of the couples we used to hang out with is very, very hard. The married mom friend I have became my friend after the ex moved out. But the ones that we went to their kids' birthday parties with, the ones that we went on couple dates with and the ones we shared family life with have disappeared. Some of it is me. I found it hard to be around people who seemingly were happy and able to make their marriages work. When I became single, we lost our connection. They could not relate to my single status. They were uncomfortable talking about the ex and the situation. There was a "who was right" feeling in the room. In addition, because I was the one who ended the marriage, and my ex made that clear to everyone who would listen, I was seen as the enemy, I think, to most of the couples. So, I retreated from those friends, embraced the single mom friends I have and focused on rebuilding my family life with my children.
The other aspect to this relationship that makes it so hard is the "no man's land" that is created when a single mom visits a married mom. Aside from my friend's husband that I talked about above, I have found no men who are OK with their wives hanging out with a single mom. In fact, one mom told me just that. Her husband did not "allow" her to be friends with single moms at all. I blame his insecurities but really, what would he do while we were visiting? I can see how my rebuilding a great life without a man in it might be threatening. Not in a bad way... in a human way.
I think every friendship is unique and every friendship is work in its own way. I also think, at least in my case, that the children tend to drive the friendships. While we single moms can feel sort of stranded in the land of "who is my friend now?" the kids can bridge any gap that adults think they see. If my kids want to play with a friend they had pre-divorce, I pick up the phone and call the mom. Since I never drop my kids and leave, should that mom accept, there is a chance to rebuild and be friends. But, just as I did as a married mom, it was more fun to have married couples to do things with. In fact, I had only one single friend the entire time I was married. As a single, I get more out of my single friends and their life stories than I seem to from married women. I just can not relate anymore. They can't relate to me either.
Friends come and go in life for many different reasons. We grow apart as we grow our families. We get distracted as we live our lives. We stop trying when it gets too complicated. There seem to be more ways to lose a friendship than to gain one. But no matter what, life is not nearly as rewarding as it is when you have good, solid, loving friends. So fostering the friendships that you love, no matter who they are and what their life path is, is imperative for any mom.