There’s a lot of crazy in young people, and that crazy reverberates when we come together. Ceiling tiles are endangered, music gets louder, sequins get involved, and liquor cabinets get raided. In the midst of this madness emerges the Mom Friend, who helps navigate the fun and frenzy, and at 2 a.m. will probably help you find your way back home.
You know who I’m talking about—the friend who comes over with soup when you’re sick, the one who holds your hair back after a night out and makes the coffee the morning after, the one who decorates for the holidays, and the one who makes cookies and brings them to class in the morning. These are all things I’ve done, and every time I have, I’ve lovingly, but chidingly, been called “mom.”
In terms of crazy, what can top college? It’s a really weird point in life. For a lot of us, it’s the first time we’ve been away from the people who have taken care of us all of our lives. These are parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, friends, and the multitudes of other people who have helped us grow into the people we are today. It’s daunting and exciting to leave them, but as we establish our independence, we find their absence nurturing. I think that’s why a lot of us end up becoming a mom for one another.
I have found the phenomenon of “mom”-ing everywhere here at Columbia. The word “mom” itself has turned into a verb, defying barriers of age, gender, and grammar. RAs can be epic moms, taking care of their residents and organizing fun—and #familyfriendly—outings. You can find Mom Friends in people less obvious than a student whose job it is to take care of others. When our friends need to be picked up at Mel’s, even if we’re already in bed, a lot of us will go. We share our food, we share our sweaters, and most importantly, we give each other emotional support. Everyone at times takes on the role of both mom and mom’ed.
I am a Mom Friend here at Columbia, but I have also been mom’ed, and my actual Mom is across the street. Though I haven’t relinquished the support of my family completely, and despite the scenery not having changed much, I feel even more supported by my friends than I did before coming to college.
When I was sick earlier this year, I messaged people in my club and let them know I’d be getting my work done more slowly than usual. Immediately they responded, not only saying that it was okay, but also inviting me to ask for help if I needed any. My friend Trinity once surprised me with cider on a cold afternoon, and my friend Tozzi peps me up when Latin is getting me down. I feel so supported by my moms here at Columbia, by the fact that I can go to my parents’ house, but most of the time don’t need to. That’s how quickly Columbia has become my home. I have found people with whom I can go to JJ’s at closing time and who meet me after class to make hot cocoa—people I can rely on for physical presence and emotional support.
When you’re sick, or sad, or struggling in college, it’s really easy to feel alone, especially when you’re not around the support system you’ve always had. When you want to shout and celebrate, it’s weird to be removed from the people who make you laugh the loudest. I think that’s why many of us have a tendency to mom each other here—we’ll all need it at some point, and we know everyone else will too.
Your friends become your support system—they become your family—and that’s a big reason why everyone says you make the closest friends of your life in college. We’re each others’ moms and friends and classmates and floormates. Everyone needs a mom once in awhile, after all.
Charlotte Force is a Hobbit in her first year at Columbia College majoring in history with concentrations in medieval studies and classics. She tends to forget her cup of tea when writing The Girl from 116th, which runs alternate Thursdays. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @cforcee, and her Friend Mom @triiiinity.
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