SAHM No More: I Don’t Want To Be My Kids’ Friend

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parent child relationshipSAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.

It’s been said that the hardest time to make friends is once you enter your 30s. You don’t have the same opportunities to meet anyone in places like school or even work really. It’s partly because so many people who you might meet are frequently in serious relationships at this point in their lives, and it’s just not as easy to socialize casually. And this is all fine, though, I guess, potentially lonely. But, I have to admit that, as a working parent—or really any kind of parent—sometimes it can seem like a relief not to have the pressures of socializing too frequently.

It can so easily be overwhelming to even find time for yourself, let alone your friends. And so all this is just fine until the day you realize, as I started to awhile back, that your closest friends in life are your children and that this isn’t exactly the parent child relationship you want.

I definitely never set out to be the parents who is “best friends” with my kids. This wasn’t something that necessarily interested me because, well, I had friends, plenty of them. But as time has gone on and my sons have gotten older and my life has gotten busier with work, I’ve found myself having less and less time to spend with friends. So, by default, most of my social activity tends to revolve around what my kids are doing.

I can’t remember the last movie that I saw without them. I tend to take them out to restaurants far more frequently than I go meet a friend for dinner. I show them funny things that I find online, like that amazing cat with eyebrows or the Ikea monkey. I let them stay up late so that we can hang out and have quality time together on nights when I work late. And really, it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes in how I talk to my kids compared to my friends. I might not talk to them about everything, but we do talk about a lot.

But recently, I’ve started to see the need for more boundaries. Part of this is because my kids, at ages eight and 11, are entering a time in their lives when I think it is incredibly important for them to know that, while friends are amazing, a parent is so much more than a friend. As a young, single parent, I frequently find myself in a weird position wherein I often get mistaken for my kids’ sister or a babysitter. Not that this should necessarily diminish my parental authority. But when you add together all the times that my children’s schoolmates have asked if I was really their mother or the fact that I am not the strictest person in the world, I start to wonder if I need to make a more distinct separation between my children and myself.

None of this is to say that my children don’t respect me or are particularly disobedient. They also are aware of the difference between hanging out with me and hanging out with their actual peers—trust me, they’d never choose me over a sleepover with a friend.

So, really, the problem isn’t how they’re doing. And it isn’t even really my relationship with them. My problem is that I need to make more time for myself and my adult friends because I have started to become all too aware that I am depending on a relationship that is altogether too fleeting.

Soon enough, my kids are going to be teenagers and not want to have as much to do with me as they do now. Hopefully, our closeness and our healthy relationship will continue through those tumultuous (or at least they were for me and everyone else I know) years and come out well on the other side. But I will still be living my life and don’t want to become too wrapped up in them at the expense of fostering my own adult friendships.

So lately, I’ve been easing back a bit, encouraging my kids to go on more playdates and worked at setting up my own dates. I adore my kids, but I don’t need them to be my best friends.

(photo: OtnaYdur / Shutterstock)