Don’t be surprised if your friends list—and we’re not talking about the one on Facebook—gets a little shaken up once baby begins a-brewin’. Having a baby is a life-changing event (to put it mildly), and it’s normal to sometimes drift away from old acquaintances and be drawn toward a different crowd. While acquiring that female companionship you so desperately need to preserve your sanity, make sure these must-have pals fall somewhere on your timeline.
Been there, done that
Every mom needs a friend who has lived—and survived—this whole parenting gig. You’ll probably have your pediatrician’s phone number memorized within days of your baby’s birth, but there are a few questions you’ll have that won’t warrant a call to the big man (or woman, as it may be)—like, What the heck can I do to make my teething baby stop crying? And, Is it normal for babies to have acne? Here’s where an experienced mom companion will come in handy.
You might already know this sanity-saving gal if you’re not the first in your circle of friends to procreate, or she might be someone you meet along the way. Heck, she may even be your mom. Parents tend to band together and help each other out, so don’t be afraid to reach out to a seasoned mom when you meet her to see if she might be “the one”—we all need an ally while we’re serving in the trenches.
Kickin’ it kid-free
We know that your baby is the center of your universe. And we know that this will never change, even when she’s old enough to be having babies of her own. But we also know—and this might be hard to believe right now—that there will come a day when you’ll want nothing more than an escape from the day-to-day grind of mommyhood. A night on the town, a conversation that has nothing to do with your baby … something to make you feel like you, not just [insert baby’s name here]’s mom.
Enter the kid-free friend, the girl with all the juicy celebrity gossip, expensive shoes you can borrow, and the ability to make you completely forget about all the responsibility and exhaustion awaiting you at home (for a couple hours, anyway). Parenting is an overwhelming endeavor at times, and there’s nothing wrong with needing a break. It rejuvenates you and sends you home a better, more relaxed mama. So don’t assume that you won’t have anything in common with your single lady friends post baby. They’ll offer you a bambino-free release that fellow mamas often can’t provide. (Let’s be honest: It’s really hard to not talk about your kids when there are other mothers around. We can’t help but go there!)
Walking the walk
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll benefit from a comrade-in-arms who is also currently navigating the rocky terrain of raising a baby. This fellow mom will be able to truly sympathize with your lack of sleep, understand why you can’t stop talking about your baby’s poop, and appreciate all those precious moments (that smile! that finger grasp!) that make your heart melt into a big ol’ puddle around your feet. She’ll also almost always be up for a “play date” with the babes—which, for the most part, gives the babies a chance to stare at each other while the moms laugh, chat and commiserate. Many times you’ll find this companion in a prenatal, birth or parenting class; playgroups are another option for searching out someone with a child close in age to your own who might be interested in making a new gal pal.
Open ears, open mind
You’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to get so annoyed with your baby that you could (and might) cry—and when those times come, you’re going to need a friend to whom you can bare your soul. At every point in a woman’s life she needs someone who will open-mindedly listen to her troubles and woes without judgment or disclosure, but this confidant becomes an even more important player after you become a mother.
Hopefully you’re not doing anything so horrid it has to be hidden from the police or child welfare workers, but you might at times have thoughts that you wouldn’t share with just anyone. Did I make a mistake by having a baby? Am I a horrible mother? Will my child be scarred for life because I forgot to turn on the monitor and she cried for an hour straight before I heard her? (For the record, the answers are no, no and no.)
I can tell you now that moments of doubt and yes, even regret, are normal. I can tell you that they don’t mean you love your child any less than the “perfect” lady down the road. But when you’re in the moment, you won’t remember these things. You’re going to need a friend to listen to you and reassure you. And it will be important for you to know that this ally won’t think any less of you at the end of your conversation.
The fire starter
We all need a little motivation every once in a while. (OK, some of us need a lot of motivation.) A positive, uplifting buddy who can spur you toward greatness (or at least acceptableness) is a force to be reckoned with. She’s the one who encourages you to sign up for that Stroller Strides class, even though you’re pretty sure all the other moms there look a lot better in their workout clothes than you do. She’s the one who stops by your house and drags you to lunch when you’re having a rough week. She’s the one who talks you into signing up for a sewing class so you can tackle a new hobby together.
It’s easy to get caught in a parenting rut, and a friendly face to gently keep you moving forward can be a lifesaver when you’ve reached the point of no return (from the sweatpants, greasy hair and crummy attitude, that is). Someone who tells it like it is and encourages you to be a better you—whether it’s through something as simple as enjoying a day in the sun or as serious as talking to your doctor about postpartum depression symptoms—will make your life a happier place indeed.
Don’t get so involved in parenting that you neglect to make time for your friends, both old and new. You might be a mom, but you’re also still a person! Your days and nights look a lot differently than they used to, but you owe it to yourself—and your sprout—to surround your growing family with folks who love and support you.