What It's Really Like To Be The "Mom" In Your Friend Group

We’ve all read them: the cutesy articles about being the “mom friend” who carries Tylenol and reminds everyone to drink water. 

My parents like to say I was “born 30,” which just means I know how to handle myself at cocktail receptions even though I hate them, and that I’ve been boring my entire life. Occasionally I wish I liked going to bars or clubs or parties, because I feel like I’m missing out on an important part of my 20s. But when I think about it, I don’t wish I had to go through the possible repercussions of that kind of social life—and I’m talking about more than just a next day hangover.

My best friend spends most weekends going out and getting drunk, and sometimes that means she gets in some pretty sticky situations. Her other friends are usually in those situations with her. I’m the only one who stays home and sober, so I’m the only one to call.

This makes it sound like I’m complaining or judging her—I’m not. It’s just that sometimes, this is what it’s like being the responsible friend, the “mom friend.” What no one tells you is that sometimes being the mom friend is hard.

She’s called me so many times at 2 a.m. drunk and in trouble. If both of us are lucky, I’m still awake and a little more patient than when the call wakes me up. But even if I am asleep, if my phone goes off where it’s charging across the room, I’m awake enough to know why she’s calling. So I pick up. I talk her through it. I don’t let her hang up until I know she’s safe. When she does hang up, I go back to sleep with my phone under my pillow, just in case.

Photos by Charlie Ananas

Photos by Charlie Ananas

The next morning, when I call her enough times to wake her up for two minutes so I know she’s alive, I always ask her the same thing: “Do you want me to yell at you now or later?” She always says later.

I’ve never actually managed to yell at her, but I have given her numerous strongly-worded lectures. And at the end of each one, I make sure to remind her that no matter what, she can come to me. That I’m on her side even when we both know she’s wrong. That I would move heaven and earth if it meant keeping her safe.

As least for me, the difference between a real mom and a mom friend is who you are first. I’m a friend to her before I’m anything else. I’m the one who will drive 80 miles to pick her up from a party, FaceTime her while she’s vomiting in a stranger’s bathroom, listen to her cry about a night she doesn’t fully remember, and never ask questions. I’m the one who will bail her out and never judge her for what happened. I’m the one who will understand when it happens again. I’m still going to carry Tylenol, and I’m still going to take her 2 a.m. calls as long as it means she’s got somewhere to turn.