I like to define “Mom Friend” as that person you can always count on, who with their unconditional show of strength, support and tough love can always be found in your corner.

I spoke with a couple dozen mothers from all walks of life about what they look for in this person. Several of these amazing women noted how in many aspects, finding a new “mom friend” is a lot like dating for them, only they haven’t been able to shower in two days and some small human, who wasn’t hungry five minutes ago, keeps begging for a snack.

With their help, I have compiled the Most Wanted List: Mom Friend Edition. These are the traits and qualities real-life-is-messy moms are looking for in a friend:

Transparency

We need to be open about our lives with each other. Parenting is wonderfully chaotic and can be really, really hard. Transparency is often hard for so many because with it comes vulnerability. How many times have we let a friend into our inner circle only to be deserted when we needed them most? It can be scary, but in order to cultivate real and meaningful friendships that can stand the test of time, we have to take that risk.

Honesty

Speak the truth in love. Regardless of the matter’s size, always be honest about your thoughts and opinions. We need this unwavering veracity in our lives. It is impossibly hard to trust someone with two faces.

Reliability

To be a good friend, you don’t have to reply to every text and there is no need to talk every day. You do however need to be reliable. We need to have that person whose ear, heart, and arms are always open, not just for us, but our children as well. This sort of judgment-free, always-have-your-back reliability is priceless.

Moral compass

Must be of good moral character. This does not mean that you can not have a decrepit sense of humor (see next section) but what it does mean is that you try to do the right thing where possible, even when you think no one is watching.

Let’s be real, we are parents; someone is always watching. Most of the time we can’t even use the bathroom without being followed. By doing what is right, you are teaching your kids this same sort of behavior. Kids mimic what they see so our kids should be good influences on each other.

Humor

Parenthood can be a sticky mess. I have found that it more often compares to wrangling feral cats then a perfectly posed Olan Mills photograph. Being able to laugh about its mishaps, missteps, and adventures with someone we trust is vital.

Confidentiality

A true friend keeps your secrets. They have seen you ugly cry and will never judge you for it. They hear your heart when your voice fails. They know your ideas, dreams, and have seen you fail in the most extravagant ways. Yet they remain by your side.

Respect

We are each on our own parenting journey. Our paths, though parallel, are distinctly different. We must respect each other’s decisions as parents. As friends, it is necessary to check our predetermined opinions at the door. We don’t have to agree with each other’s decisions, just honor them.

Cares / Concerns

Simply put, yours are theirs and theirs are yours.

The path of parenting is often muddy, can be a hard one to navigate and none of us really know what we are doing. We are all just giving it our best shot. If you are lucky enough to meet a friend who loves you for just the person you are and cares dearly about your children, cultivate that relationship.

If you find yourself flying solo then take a deep breath and don’t be afraid to branch out and meet new people. Yes, sometimes good friends can be hard to find; be the friend you wish to find in the world.

Photograph Credit: Left to Right –C. Richardson. L. Henderson, A. Cain, C. Shirley, K. Bean, M. Crawford, H. Conley, S. Ross, B. Jordan

This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.

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