When my daughter was a baby, it didn’t take long for me to notice a theme in the advice that kept popping up from moms with older children. It wasn’t about how to feed my baby, or how much (if any) to let her cry, or even about the correct way to put her in a carseat—though, really, never post a photo of your child in a carseat on social media unless you want 14,000 Super Moms to tell you how you’re putting your child at risk. (It’s annoying when you’re on the receiving end, but I’m glad they do it if it actually does keep the babies safer.)
No, it wasn’t those things that I heard most often from veteran moms. It was this (in a nutshell): Your baby is cute… I noticed you’re here at Target just you and your baby… I just wanted to make sure that you know that You. Need. Mom. Friends. OK? Do you have a plan to get some mom friends? Maybe you should join a mom’s group. Like, seriously, why aren’t you in a mom’s group already? You’ll find one soon, right? PROMISE me you’ll find one soon!
These women REALLY wanted me to find someone I could text in the middle of the day while everyone else was at work when the baby won’t stop crying and I haven’t washed my hair in 4 days and I don’t remember the last time I actually ate anything myself and I might lose it if she doesn’t just go the f*ck to sleep right now. Not that that ever happened to me… OK, well, actually it happened all the time, but I was pretty sure I could handle it on my own. Because, well, have I told you about my theory that giving birth kills at least half of your brain cells?
See also Self-Care Isn’t Selfish
I’m not kidding. I can barely even believe I was that stupid (and I’ve done some epically stupid things in my day, people, believe me!).
My sister was one of the experienced moms who kept nagging me to join a group (probably because she was sick of me calling her in a panic 13 times a day). I remember being so annoyed at her for suggesting it so often I finally let out an exasperated sigh and said: “Look! I don’t LIKE mommies! They’re bossy. They’re know-it-alls. And I’d rather just complain to you and my current friends, thank you very much!” I’m pretty sure I hung up on her after that. I’m dramatic like that anyway, but when I haven’t slept in 5 weeks, I’m REAAAALLY dramatic. (The good thing about having sisters is they have to love you even when you’re an asshole. Which is lucky for me because in the weeks after having my daughter I was a royal asshole…)
But my sisters weren’t the only ones who were tired of me calling them to talk about breast milk (there really is SO much to say on the topic). My current friends were busy having happy hour at a wine bar in their fancy work clothes while I was nursing for hours on end in a sleep-deprived stupor (it’s kind of like being drunk… so we should still have that in common, right?). While my childless friends’ big drama of the day was who accidentally hit “reply all” on an email that was meant for the secret office romance, I was trying to decide if life as I knew it was going to be over because of the possibility that my baby had a dairy intolerance. It really is cruel considering I already couldn’t drink wine and now someone was threatening my cheese, too. For some reason my “friends” got off the phone quickly when I called and eventually, they stopped answering my texts altogether. Jerks.
Looking back, though, I can’t really blame them.
It pains me to write this, but that random lady at Target and my sister were right. I really did need mom friends, but when you don’t have a lot of friends in the same stage of life as you already it can be really difficult to make them—especially when it’s hard enough just to find time to wash your hair…
See also Find Your Mama Mantra
I tried many different ways to find mom friends and most were epic failures. But I learned from my mistakes, and now you can, too.
How to Find Mom Friends
Join groups with like-minded moms.
If you’re going to join an in-person or Facebook group for moms, make sure it’s a group that will draw moms that have some shared passion, hobby, or other interest. I know that poop, spit up, and complaining about not sleeping is a great way to start a conversation, but after you’ve all vented to each other, it’s nice to have something ELSE to talk about. Really, anything OTHER than how your life revolves around your baby would be great. You are likely a smart, educated, talented woman (you did find my blog, after all), and there’s more to you than your role as a new mom. Finding friends who will help you reignite your spark, your passion for something—anything!—else can make all the difference between being a stressed-out mom mess and being a happy, calm mom.
Go to organized activities and classes with your baby.
I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing when my daughter was a tiny baby. Why the hell would I pay $10 so someone can teach me how to lay my baby down on her back, make funny faces at her, and sing silly songs? I already do all the time! And my baby is so little right now, she can’t even lift up her head… why would I take her to a “music class for babies?” Let’s be real for a second. You don’t do it for your baby any more than you do prenatal yoga classes for the baby. You do it for YOU. (Sure, your baby will reap some benefits, but this is for YOUR sanity.. something that is vitally important to the health and well-being of your child, too.) These classes are the PERFECT way to make mom friends. There’s a certain type of mom who will enroll their baby in a mommy and me dance class or a mom and baby yoga class and another type of mom who goes for the music class … see where I’m going with this? You can meet other moms who share in your interests without it being forced or awkward! That, my friends, is priceless.
Whatever you do, wherever you go with your baby, be a regular.
This is the most important part because it’s really hard to make friends with someone when you only see someone once in a blue moon, so if the goal is for you and your baby to build relationships with people, you’ve got to show up. I admit, I wasn’t so good at this when my daughter was a baby because, well, I was an exhausted hot mess most of the time. But when I finally started sleeping again, I quickly realized that it was easy to make friends as long as I was seeing the same people regularly. So, whatever it is… a weekly trip to the park, story time at the library, mom and baby yoga class, that great gym you joined with the amazing childcare room, or even just that active Facebook group for moms who are really into raising their children sans technology (Ha!).. SHOW UP. Go often. Go at the same time every week. Engage with people as much as you can. And of course be your charming, brilliant, fun self.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly your mama tribe grows, and how quickly you grow so close to these women who are right there in the trenches with you—the ONLY women who could possibly understand the chaos that is life with an infant or toddler. Of course, that doesn’t mean I completely left the friends I had before behind, it just means they no longer have to endure a million texts about how hard it is to be a parent—and we’re all better for it! I have a feeling my mama tribe will be a part of my life for many, many years to come.
I’m so glad I’m not in this alone. And neither are you!
I’d love for you to be a part of my online mama tribe. If you’re looking for a place to vent, ask questions, and get to know like-minded mamas, join this Facebook group I created just for mamas who are committed to finding a more balanced life through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, self-care and sisterhood. We’d LOVE to have you.
Do you have an amazing group of mom friends? Is it something you had to work at or did it happen naturally? Do you have any tips for the rest of us. Please comment below.
*Featured images by Juliana Coutinho