Why I'm Terrible At Making Mom Friends
There is one thing worse than dating and it is trying to make Mom Friends.
I spent most of my maternity leave with my first-born dealing with postpartum depression in a new city where I had zero established friendships with mothers. I was alone A LOT and constantly wished I knew other people that might also be covered in puke, tired and a little stir crazy. So when my second was born, I knew I had to be more proactive. I was eager and willing to do whatever it took to find a tribe of Mom Friends. I was so dedicated to the cause that I decided to attend strollercize: [definition – a terrible/amazing bootcamp in which everyone keeps shoving crackers in their child’s face hoping they are happy for long enough to be able to do 10 burpees, uninterrupted]. I figured that the workout part of it was just a façade so we could get to the good stuff – the friendships.
I showed up at my local gym to attend a class when my youngest was about 3 months old. My body was soft, puffy and sore. I had milk leaking from my breasts and I wasn’t too happy about how my tight yoga pants were digging into my incision line. I knew I could survive a little workout if it meant that I would leave with a few numbers in my pocket, like the real sugar mama I am. I eagerly scanned the room and set up my workout equipment next to a few women who appeared around my age. I smiled. “Hi!” I said, to the woman next to me. She smiled politely back and then turned away. ‘Hmm, she just must be tired,’ I thought. I imagined suffering through squats to look over at her and we would share a laugh over how pee just leaked out of our vaginas and we had absolutely no control of that. Hahah! What a giggle we would have. I’ll just give her a little time to warm up. I mean, if we can’t bond over our destroyed pelvic floor, then what else is there?
Class started and to my surprise; everyone was there to actually exercise. What is this blasphemy? I suffered through another round of burpees, trying to make a joke to my new un-friend. I even threw in a little Eastern charm (swearing in a witty way) and still, she wasn’t biting. Covered in sweat, hungry and feeling off balance because of my sleep deprivation; I started to get a little discouraged.
After class as I was packing up my things, still yet to speak to anyone, I noticed a small group of women talking. I walked (Ok, ran) over to them and tried to enter their circle in a cool, chill way. I heard them giving introductions. I’m so happy at this point; I start to blurt out “Hi! I’m Hannah!” I’m pretty sure they could smell my desperation for conversation so one politely asked me how old my son was. I waited for everyone else to give me their names and I noticed this funny pattern how each person introduced their child before themselves. The conversation dimmed and then one of them turned to me and asked me how I liked my stroller.
“Well, I suppose it’s good for carrying around my child and a box of wine” I joked.I left that day knowing that strollercize wasn’t going to be my golden ticket to friendship.
Because you see, I could give zero shits about my stroller.
Wait, let me get this straight; I’m not insane, a woman needs a good stroller. How else are you to get your screaming toddler in and out of stores quickly, maneuvering like a stealth spy if you don’t have some awesome wheel action on that thing? To be fair, when I was pregnant, I cared greatly about stroller conversations. I could have talked about baby gear in great length. Looking back, I now see that it was all just a distraction to hide the huge “Holy Shit I’m Going To Be Raising A Human” feeling that you get, basically every single day when you are growing a human. There is a colossal change that happens between that time when you are pregnant, to the time after you give birth. The change is that you become undone. All those months you spent figuring out if you need a jogging stroller; or what type of bouncer is the best, or who Aiden and Anais are become but a pile of dust. You, with all your carefully selected decorations and baby things, are still scared shitless. Your heart has exploded and it’s left you feeling a myriad of emotion you never knew possible. There you are, holding a new person with your new engorged heart, destroyed vagina and all the things you purchased. You consider that you spent your whole pregnancy preparing for baby things and childbirth but not for the BABY in general. You feel overwhelmed with feedings and feelings and schedules. You look different, you feel different. It’s confusing and glorious and painstaking and remarkable all in one breathe.
Now, when I find myself in a group of new potential mom dates, I test them. I break through the shit, I look them in the eye and I say things like: “Today, I wanted to throw my baby out the window” or “My kids ate Mac N Cheese for dinner three nights in a row” or “My house is a mess, but I have a lot of coffee and a lot of wine, want to come over?”
This mom shit is the real deal. Parenting is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. It shakes me, consumes me. I don’t have time for pleasantries, judging or the illusion of perfect motherhood. I will, however, drop everything in a heartbeat to share The Mom Life; the real, pukey, whiney kid, picky eater, bumps and bruises, lost your patience, watched too much TV, long hard days life. I need friends who hug and rejoice with me when I’m killing it: I showered, fed my family vegetables, did something for myself, felt intimate with my husband. I need those same friends to hug and accept me when I’m a dirty filthy shell of a human who’s eaten nothing but bread for days and has yelled at my kids for things that don’t matter.
Sometimes motherhood is magical craft time with sparkles and giggles. Sometimes motherhood is hiding in your closet with a bottle of wine at 2 p.m. Whichever it happens to be, I want to share it; correction, I can't do it alone. None of us can. So let’s make a vow, shall we? How about we all stop the culture of making the small things the big things and let’s get on with the heart of the matter.