Most of the time, when working moms talk about networking, we’re talking about our career networks: coworkers, mentors, people in the (name your) business. But there’s another network, one that we tend to take for granted, one that is just as important — or perhaps, when it comes to our sanity, even more so: Other working moms.
I don’t know how I’d get by without my working mom friends, the ones whom I’ve met through my kids and their friends from school and daycare. They know what I’m up against because they’re up against it, too. I spent years as a working stepmom without a network like that, and let me tell you, a network of people who are in the same boat as you makes your work-life juggle much, much easier. Or, at least, more managable.
Calling your friends your “network” seems cold and impersonal, but that’s not how I mean it at all. These are women whom I feel comfortable reaching out to for help — a rarity for me, as I am really, really bad at asking for help — because they understand why I need it, sometimes even before I do. We’re all stressed and juggling work and life but, especially now that we’ve spent a couple of years on the same birthday-party circuit (ye gods, our kids are social), none of us hesitiate when it comes to offering help or support, no matter how full our own plates are. They’re willing to swoop in and pick up my kids along with theirs if I look like I’m about to lose the beat-the-daycare-clock game — and I keep a spare booster seat in my car in case they need me to do the same for them.
It’s not fair to call this most-important network a “working mom” network, really. There are a lot of dads in the mix, too, wiping icing off of little faces at birthday parties and waiting in the preschool parking lot. They rock. This weekend, one of those dads took his daughter and my youngest daughter to the ballet while our 4-year-old sons played at my house. Everyone had a blast, and I was grateful to have friends who introduce my kids to new experiences.
My most-important network is full of people who get it. Yes, experience is important; you can learn a lot from those who have been there before you. But the ones who are going through it all at the same time? Those people are priceless.