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How Do You Size Up a New Mom Friend?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

When you meet someone on the soccer sidelines or at preschool drop-off, it can be hard to tell if you’d actually want to be friends with them in real life, right? Here are 10 things I look for…

When it comes to mom friends, I definitely don’t have a type. I have stay-at-home mom friends, working mom friends, uber-organic mom friends, Kraft mac-and-cheese mom friends, mom friends who have one kid, two kids, three kids; I even have mom friends I’ve never met (like Christi Pavlis Wampler, who writes a hilarious blog—Domestic Disturbia—and who gives me the best quotes for pretty much every story I write). But even though these women are different on paper, there are certain qualities they all possess that make me gravitate toward them. And when I sniff out a new mom friend, I look for clues that they have those qualities, too. My general hit list:

I like moms who tend to be more laid back in their parenting style, who don’t hover/ freak out at the smallest scratch/make their toddlers do anything with flashcards.

That said, I don’t want to spend a lot of time with moms who have no rules, who let their kids beat the crap out of them or stay up all night eating and watching crap. Although, I have a two year old who says crap so I suppose I shouldn’t talk.

I like to be friends with people who have boundaries in terms of kid time and adult time. In other words, people who have a life and interests outside of their children and who might want to talk about that life with me (when we’re not discussing potty training fails or hunger strikes or undermining grandparents, all of which fascinate me too).

I like people who aren’t perfect, don’t pretend to be or even strive to be and who are good at sharing a bad-mom moment every once in a while, particularly after I’ve just shared one.

I like women who like their husbands. I do enjoy throwing Nick under the bus occasionally, but I actually really love the guy. And it’s nice to hang with people who feel pretty good about their men, too.

I like moms who overshare. Obviously. And who make me laugh, which usually happens with a good overshare.

I don’t dig moms who have an air of superiority, whether it’s about what you feed your kid, what school he goes to or how far he can kick a ball. I know people who say things like, “Oh, Janey doesn’t watch TV.” Or “Janey doesn’t eat any white flour or sugar.”  Or “Janey doesn’t ______(fill in the blank with something your kid does that would make you feel bad if another mom said her kid never does it). Gah! I think we all question our parenting prowess enough without having other women get in our heads about it.

And, last but not least, I like moms who understand the importance of a glass of wine at the end of a long day. If they casually work wine into a sentence while we’re standing on the soccer sidelines, we may even be BFFs. (I do have mom friends who don’t drink…but not many.)

So, I guess it comes down to liking moms who aren’t trying to out-mom me and who get that at the end of the day, we’re all in this together. And it’s not so much what they do with their kids (as I said before, my mom friends run the gamut), it’s how they talk about their choices. One of my favorite mom friends makes her kids kale and spinach smoothies for breakfast and all sorts of insanely good-for-you foods throughout the day, but there’s no self-congratulating going on or even the slightest bit of judgment about what I feed my kids for breakfast (which isn’t egg McMuffins, P.S., but it ain’t kale and spinach). Oh, and we go out for bagels with our kids sometimes, so she's not one of those unbreakable-rules moms, either. Bottom line: I like to be friends with interesting, complex women who love their kids and take pride in their parenting but who never make me feel bad about my own parenting skills and standards and choices. Seems like a tall order but these women exist and I'm lucky to be friends with a lot of them! 

So, how do you size up a new mom friend? Any qualities you gravitate toward? Any red flags you look for so you can avoid them? 

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