It’s another coworker’s birthday or a dinner party, or perhaps it’s an addition to your friend’s family and you need to find a gift. Scented body lotions, mid-priced bottles of wine, candles… you know the deal. We’ve all received those gift baskets wrapped in cellophane, some of which will get its obligatory use before we toss the remaining contents aside, and some that will just be re-gifted completely.
But those aren’t the gifts we need to stop giving other moms. Sure, they may not be what she truly wants but those small trinkets are a sign that you’re thinking of her. And they’re still a nice gesture.
What we TRULY need to stop giving to each other aren’t overpriced body butters or floral coffee mugs, but something from a whole different category. There are five particular things that we may not even realize we’re “gifting” one another, but we as women need to cease and desist immediately.
1. Your Insecurities Repackaged
We all have them. They eat at us like tiny, ravenous insects. “You’re SO skinny.” “I couldn’t imagine trying to clean a house this big.” “I just don’t have the heart to leave my kids in daycare all day; you’re so strong.”
Those passive aggressive digs covered with bright pink bows aren’t fooling anyone, and they have nothing to do with the recipient; they’re a direct manifestation of your own insecurities projected onto other women. Instead, try celebrating their victories. When we can truly be happy for another person, we can work on finding happiness all our own.
2. Unsolicited Advice
Just because you’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt, doesn’t mean you know everything there is about parenting. Nor do you understand anyone’s situation enough to drop advice nuggets on other moms whenever you deem it necessary. Sure, it’s coming from a good place, but make sure it’s something your mom-friend is asking for, not just something you think she needs.
Advice can be great and a huge support to a fellow mama, but it can also be in poor taste and about as welcome as the Nose Frieda you insisted she try. Know when to offer up your experience (like when she asks) and know when to keep your mouth shut. Sometimes an ear to listen is the best gift you can give.
3. Unrealistic Expectations
When we become mothers, we redirect our priorities completely. Sometimes boozy brunches or late night movie dates just aren’t feasible anymore. So if you’re playing the part of the high-maintenance friend, now might be the time to back down.
Sure, it’s a bummer to lose our treasured moments with a bestie, but once she transitions to motherhood, we need to respect her time. Instead of constantly badgering her about responding to texts or missing out on trivia night, try offering to bring her carry-out and your Netflix password. It’s not that she doesn’t want to see you, but you may just have unrealistic expectations of your new relationship.
4. The Burden of Your Problems
Every mom needs her circle to vent, hear her out after a rough day, and help her unload some stress. But be careful that you’re not using your friend as a Problem Dumpster, because she likely has her own issues and surely doesn’t need to bear the weight of yours, too.
Just be very cautious as you catch yourself constantly tossing your problems at your friend; are you returning the favor and catching some of hers? Are you providing any positivity to your relationship, or are you just bringing her down? More often than not it’s time to quit complaining and just be a good friend because every mom has her own problems to carry.
5. Guilt Trips
That time you suggested she wasn’t trying hard enough to exclusively breastfeed her newborn. That time you sent 8 thousand Facebook invites for your pop-up clothing sale. Then there was that time you reminded her of how she almost burned her house down while baking a cake. Whether intentional or totally benign, spare her your giant serving of guilt.
Aside from Supermom, who has dinner on the table at 5:00 in an immaculately clean house without a single hair out of place, we mothers are humans. Plain old humans who make mistakes and know them more intimately than you ever will. We hate compulsory sales parties for products we can get at half the price from Target, but we desperately want to be good friends. We need approval that we’re good parents, even though we know deep down we’re doing our best. Don’t capitalize on those innate guilty feelings all moms have and just be a source of reassurance.
So grab the chardonnay even if she’s a cab girl and load her up with all the gift cards she’ll probably never use; those items are still a warm comfort and reminder that you’re with her in this crazy adventure of motherhood. Leave the rest behind because all we moms need is a really great friend who gets it.