There will probably be an infinite number of parts to this one, because mom friends are the best friends. I learned that—more by blind instinct than any plan—when my oldest was about three months old.
Long ago, we moved to a new town where I knew no one. I worked from home; our church community consisted mostly of retirees. No one in our neighborhood seemed to come outside. My husband worked a solid half hour away. And then we had a baby.
Long before I was ready for it, Big A. had to go back to work and I stayed at home, alone, all day with the baby. I ran up a ridiculous phone bill to my mom. I watched Oprah. I forced myself not to check the mail until 3:30 every day. And I swear the clock actually moved backwards when I was waiting for 5:30 and my husband’s homecoming.
My sister-in-law, who’d already been through it, recommended a group for moms that she enjoyed. I Googled and called and looked up directions and found one nearby. I manipulated our nursing schedule and nap schedule and hauled exactly one crap-ton of stuff with us to the meeting.
I hated it.
First of all, I don’t like meetings. I don’t like organized activities. I especially don’t like mompetition (although we didn’t call it that back then).
So I went the other way and tried another type of national group. Turns out S. and I liked that one okay, but it only met once a month. So we tried paying for a once-a-week Mommy and Me play class.
Not crazy about that one, either.
Actually, the playing part was okay. The “teachers” though—whoa. Sometimes you just want to say something like, “Oh, I am SO glad to be here! My kid hasn’t slept more than twenty minutes in days.” And then you want someone to say, “Wow. That sucks.”
These people asked me things like, “So, how do you feel about that?” and “Have you considered a more ___ technique?” or “When does she eat?” and “Do you think you are parting her hair wrong?” STOP THE INQUISITION, ALREADY!
Then I stumbled across a weekly story time for babies at the local library. We went into a peaceful, cheerful room, sat in a circle and sang some nursery rhymes, did some clapping games, and listened to a book. That took about twenty minutes. Then the kids crawled into a giant pile of toys in the middle while the moms talked.
This worked for me. I like books. I like silly songs. I loved letting S. play with other kids. I loved talking to real moms. We went to this story time from the time S. was three months old until she aged out at eighteen months. After a while, we all started going to the breakfast place across the street for lunch afterward. You should have seen our table—yes, that would be a table for sixteen or so with half high chairs.
I am still friends with so many of those moms. Others I just run into around town, but I always love seeing them. And our kids! Holy moly, they’ve grown.
And I’ve confessed to at least one mom that I always envied her because she seemed so on top of things. You know what she said? “Oh, no—that was you. YOU always had it together!” We both laughed at how wrong we’d been. But that’s what the whole thing was all about. We learned that, as different as we all are, we are all the same.
We look different, we choose differently, we have different lives and different kids. But we all have hopes and fears and dreams and worries. We also all had poopy diapers, endless laundry, sleepless nights, humiliating moments in public, joyful moments of parental pride. And we learned that it was all okay.
So that’s the first thought I'd like to throw out there. Mom friends know it’s all okay.