When Facebook was down, I rejoiced. There really wasn’t much I would miss. I’m frustrated by the targeted ads (I’m looking at you, Wish), I’m salty about the immutable arguments on the neighborhood Facebook page, and I’m embarrassed by the time-suck my scrolling habit can become.
However, there’s one part of Facebook I’m not sure I’m ready to part with: my mom Facebook group. I know some love to hate them, but I’ve actually found a safe sense of community in mine.
Over four years ago when my husband and I relocated our family to St. Paul, Minnesota, I stumbled into an online community of local women. Here I could ask for recommendations for the best pet boarder, the booziest margarita, the winter running routes that wouldn’t result in a broken ankle. Women from all kinds of families and experiences brought valuable insight to this group. It created a community that often spilled out into real-life meetups, too.
When our lives came to a screeching halt in March 2020, in-person friendships were put on pause. Our online community became even more important, leading to the birth of an essential spinoff group—one for the moms of teens and tweens.
I didn’t know how much I needed this group until it existed. Because we all lived in the same community, we were dealing with mostly the same COVID “rules” at the beginning, with virtual school and cancelled extracurriculars. And we moms needed all the help we could get. This experience has reminded me of some of the benefits of friendships with other moms—virtual and in person—especially during this stage of life.
Mom and Friends: The Benefits of Mom Friendships
1. Mom friendships offer great advice
Last November I asked if anyone had great holiday gift ideas for their “quaranteens.” We shared ideas for virtual guitar lessons, music service subscriptions, and games the whole family could enjoy. A few weeks later I asked about holiday light displays. Based on responses, we loaded up in the family SUV, drove through the Popeye’s drive-thru for spicy chicken sandwiches and fountain drinks, and ventured out to see some delightful displays, including one of Santa “peeing” on 2020 from the rooftop. (It was a string of yellow lights.)
Other times, we ask for more serious advice: therapist recommendations, conflict resolution ideas, plans for financing college. Some moms have older teens. Others are just getting started with the tween stage. So we pitch in with our various experiences and stories to help each other.
2. Mom friendships provide much needed laughter
Let’s be honest. Parenting teens and tweens comes with challenges in a good year. Throw in an ongoing global pandemic and complicated changes to the school year, and we have ourselves the perfect storm. Sometimes, the only thing that helps is humor.
One day I came downstairs to see one son perusing TikTok and another son watching an episode of Dawson’s Creek—while the dishwasher still needed to be unloaded. I immediately took to my mom group with a GIF of the angry character from Inside Out. A string of funny comments followed, transforming my temporary annoyance to levity. Months later, another mom shared a GIF of an epic eye roll labeled: “Actual footage of my kids, who are apparently very very busy, when I ask them to empty the dishwasher.” (Why do so many of our woes deal with the dishwasher?)
Another mom created a version of Teen Bingo—with squares like “Makes it clear spending time with you is painful”—which gave us all some needed laughter.
Our meme game is strong, and our ability to laugh at ourselves is on point, too.
3. In mom friendships, we share in celebration
When one teenager finally left her room after a few troubling days, we heaped the praise on the mom who never gave up. When another teen left the wet towel on the bathroom floor rather than the wood floor of the bedroom, we sarcastically rejoiced. When one mom shared her response when her teen disclosed they were pansexual, the rest of us congratulated her spot-on words of affirmation. And when another group member awarded herself the “Meanest Mom Ever” award, we congratulated her and argued over who was most worthy of second and third places.
Whether the victories are big or small, it helps to share them together. In the darkest moments of parenting teens, we need every shared exclamation and endorphin we can find.
4. Mom friendships give us a sense of solidarity
Early on in the pandemic, I posted this in our Facebook group: “We need some kind of structure this summer, or I’m sure my younger son will meld into the couch.” Many other moms responded in empathy and we shared our worries about our lethargic teens, even while most of our concerns were unfounded.
This was confirmed again a few weeks later when I posted, “How much screen time is too much screen time? I’m not asking for a friend.” Responses indicated my battles were not unique, and the same has been true for other conversation threads.
We are in this parenting journey together, and it feels so good to know that I’m not alone.
Getting out from behind the screen
Recently this group of badass women got together in person for the first time at a local patio. It was one of the hottest nights of the summer and, awkward introvert that I am, I had developed 43 excuses for why I couldn’t go. But I want my teens to know taking risks can pay off, so I went. Later in the night, another introverted mom confessed she nearly turned around to drive home when she couldn’t find parking right away. But we fought through some stumbling introductions (“You don’t look like your profile picture!”), ordered tasty drinks, and connected over, well, everything.
Friendships have also looked different for our teens since Covid knocked us all off our feet. They got creative with socially distanced hammock hangouts in the park, cozy nights around the backyard fire with lots of blankets and hot chocolate, and online meetups for video games and raucous laughter. And, like us moms, reentry to in-person interactions initially felt awkward and forced.
As my mom friendships pivot from mostly virtual to occasionally in-person, it feels good to know I’m not alone and we aren’t the only family trying to make sense of our new normal. I may cheer for the occasional forced break from social media, but I will always be grateful for the connections I’ve made with my fellow travelers on this sometimes perilous parenting road.