Moms… You Are Not Alone…Other Moms Are Looking for You
“Making mom friends is harder than dating,” one of my best friends told me after her daughter was born in 2012.
When my daughter was born two years later, I had been living in Philadelphia for less than a year and really did not know many people. The friends that I did have did not have newborn babies, so I really felt that I was on my own. At the hospital, I had been told about a breastfeeding support group that the University of Pennsylvania Hospital hosted once a week. When Claire was two weeks old, I strapped her into her stroller and dragged my aching body across town to Mercer Hall. She started crying as soon as I walked out the door. I started crying about a block down the street. We arrived at Mercer Hall 30 minutes later drenched in tears.
The Mercer Hall group was a godsend.
We shared our breastfeeding stories, cooed over each other’s babies and made tentative steps towards friendship. I bonded with one woman who was also a recent Manhattan transplant. I met another woman in the elevator of our shared pediatrician’s office and brought her to the group after learning about her nursing struggles.
As the fall wore on, we started trying to have conversations about other topics from naps to milestones to percentiles. Eventually, several of us started meeting outside of Mercer Hall: picnicking in Rittenhouse Square, grabbing coffee and even going to a baby friendly movie screening.
I felt like I was finally making friends. We were all in the trenches together, figuring out what each cry meant and how to get our babies on some sort of a schedule. Eventually, though, most of the moms went back to work. Luckily, I still had the former New Yorker and the elevator mom. We lived very close to one another and spent a lot of our time together. We referred to ourselves as the “mama bears” and treasured the time we spent together.
And then I moved to the suburbs. Back to square one.
At this point, Claire was 8 months old. I was far enough past the newborn stage that I was not sure what I had to bond with other women about. Topics got a bit trickier: how did the other mom feel about vaccines? Was her baby on a strict nap schedule like mine was? Was she doing baby led weaning or making purees? It was much more complicated than “how’s nursing going?” “How often were you up last night?” “Is that breastmilk or spit up on your shirt?”
Cat and Nat (aka Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer), the women behind a viral video series of “mom truths” made a video about mom dating that sums up my struggle perfectly. “First you have to assess if they’re your brand,” they laugh. “Are our kids kind of the same ageish? Does she have one or more?” The moms go on to compare making mom friends to dating. “You have to go for someone who’s ripe, who’s looking a little desperate, a little open.”
I scoured my new area for the best activities to do with my daughter that might bring me into contact with other parents. First step, the library. Story time was free, the librarian was awesome and the kids’ room had tons of toys and books to entertain my daughter. Then we signed up for a weekly music class and Romp n’Roll, an indoor activity place. Romp n’ Roll ended up being a gold mine. A group of us brought our kids to the baby class. By the time they were old enough for the toddler classes, a few of us were making plans to meet during the open gym times when we could talk more. At some point, I invited a couple moms over for a playdate, which really got the ball rolling.
I finally developed a little squad of mom friends. And then I had a second baby who did not like to nap on the go.
I was not able to attend all those fun activities any more. For about a year, I invited the moms over to my house so the baby could nap. But as I was the only one with a second child, a lot of the moms spent time together going to all the places I could not anymore. When my baby was finally down to one nap and I could go places again, I was grateful that most of my new friends were still in the picture.
Being a stay at home mom can be debilitatingly lonely. It is so important to get out and try to socialize, but it can be scary reaching out and trying to meet moms that you have a lot in common with. You really have to put yourself out there.
So sign your child up for a class like music, swimming or gymnastics. Join a gym with a daycare or find a local Stroller Strides class. Find a local support group, whether for newborns, breastfeeding or toddlers. Libraries are always fantastic. Storytime rarely lasts longer than 15 or 20 minutes and there is usually free time after for kids to play and you to chat. Barnes and Noble also does weekly storytime.
Fortunately, we live in the age of social media, which can help you find your tribe. Take a chance with signing up for a local moms’ meetup group on Facebook. There is even a new app called Peanut that is described as a “Tinder for mom friendships”.
It was so hard to relocate twice and have to make close friends as an adult. It took time to cultivate true bonds with other women, but now I have moms I can invite over even though my house is a mess or ask to babysit my girls or even meet up for a glass of wine.
Be patient, put yourself out there and remember, you are not alone. There is another mom out there just waiting to make her new best mom friend.