I have three friends from college who live nearby and had babies around the same time as me. Three of us delivered the same week (one was checking out of the same hospital, only two rooms away, the day I checked in) and the fourth delivered a few weeks later. We had two girls and two boys.
They came into this world in different ways and sizes, have varying skills and interests, are meeting their milestones at different times and what works for one rarely works for any of the others.
We work full-time, stay at home and work part-time. Each one of us is a full-time mom.
We want to breastfeed forever and ever, are so over breastfeeding, can pump enough milk to feed a village, hate pumping, supplement formula and have never used formula.
Our babies stay home, go to daycare, sleep through the night, wake up every three hours, eat purées with spoons, eat whole veggies with their hands, use silverware, love avocado, hate avocado and can crawl, scoot, stand, army crawl and barrel like a walrus.
They say real words, babble incoherently, scream, purr, giggle and snort.
We rock them to sleep, let them cry it out and run to them the second they whimper.
They are short, long, lean, chubby and have thunder thighs, chicken legs, fat cheeks, bubble butts and baby boobies.
They are perfect. All four of them.
If there is one valuable lesson I have learned in nine months of motherhood, it’s that your baby is nothing like my baby. What works for your baby probably won’t work for mine. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear all about it, especially if you’re feeling blue and need a shoulder or are feeling proud and want to brag. But comparing babies is pointless and, quite frankly, annoying. These three moms have been my rock ever since we realized that.
Even though we hadn’t seen each other since college, we needed each other. We talk every day. Whether it’s to beg for advice during a 4AM feeding or announce an exciting new milestone, we’re constantly talking about what’s happening with not just the little ones but ourselves, our bodies, our sanity (or lack thereof) and every gory detail in between. The best lesson these women have taught me is that not one baby is alike. Not one pregnancy, delivery, husband or life is the same. There are similarities, sure, and there are times when one mom’s advice has saved my life (or at least my sanity). Other times, it’s just nice to know we’re in this together; that I’m not the only one who has absolutely no clue what I’m doing.
That judgy mom down the street who gives you unsolicited, snarky “advice” when all you want to do is sleep and wash your hair and clean up the baby poop that somehow got on the wall but now you’re crying and questioning every decision you’ve ever made is helpful to no parent anywhere.
So rather than write about all of the genius, works-for-all-babies, sanity-saving advice I have accumulated through nine months of motherhood, I’ll give you just one piece; the only piece I think you need:
Find a friend (or two or three) just like mine.
A friend who knows when to give advice and when to shut up and listen. Someone who knows what you’re going through and needs you, too. No judging, no one-upping, no comparing, no jealousy, no stressing about whose baby is cuter or smarter because (spoiler alert) every mom thinks her baby is the cutest and smartest and you are never going to convince her otherwise, even if your baby is walking and talking at six months old.
Thank you to these three lovely ladies (you know who you are) and to all of my other, countless supportive family and friends. You guys are what motherhood is all about.
Related post: A Confession To My Friend Without Kids