Fifteen years ago after moving into a new neighborhood, I’d been hibernating for the winter. I realized during one week long in December, my one-year-old son and my pregnant belly had only left the house for one day. That was the only day I’d gotten dressed and talked to an adult who wasn’t my then-husband.
At the time, my sister-in-law had a son my son’s age, but she worked full time. I had a friend who lived five hours away who had a daughter two years older than my child so, as far as me having mom friends, that’s all she wrote.
The first tolerable day to play outside here in the Northeast arrived sometime in March. My son and I got out his red wagon and walked up and down our dead end street. This was a welcome change from reading the same book to him over and over and watching Dawson’s Creek reruns while pretending to play with him on the floor.
As we walked, a neighbor came out with her daughter, walked down the driveway, and we started talking. It wasn’t long before our two toddlers were sitting in the wagon playing and laughing and we talked about childbirth, nursing, and our homes.
Then, the lady from across the street came out with her girls who were old enough to carry our tiny tots around on their hips and show them flowers that were budding out of the ground. The discussion grew to having more than one child, what the older years were like, and who initiated more sex in our marriages.
We laughed and felt validated. We stood talking for hours ignoring our shivers when the sun started to go down. My stomach was rumbling from emptiness but I refused to leave my new mom clan to go get a snack and start dinner because this was feeding me more.
We made plans to get appetizers and see a movie the following Tuesday. We wore jeans for the first time in months and did our hair as we sipped cheap white wine and shared buffalo wings and nachos. We laughed harder than anyone else at the movie because we hadn’t been out in so long. We needed each other in a way we’d never needed a friend before. It was liberating.
The years passed and our kids grew up together. Some of us got pregnant at the same time. We had each other to cling to on the first day of school and during the long dog days of summer when we’d get out the baby pool, stick our feet in while the kids played, and try new crafting projects.
My mom friends weren’t only necessary, they saved me. After meeting more moms, I wondered how I survived a whole year without the kind of friendship that allows you to talk about how many stitches you needed after childbirth, and how your libido has dried up after having kids.
Most of those women have moved away and I’m now a mom of teens, but let me tell you something: I got new friends. I won’t go without my fellow moms, ever. It’s different these days; we’ve moved from diaper blowouts and temper tantrums to sex and drugs and college acceptances and damn, we need to talk about it.
Maybe not everyone agrees their mom friends are necessary, like Jessica Grose who recently wrote in the New York Times: “Not everyone needs parent friends in those heady early days. I didn’t make any until my older daughter was in preschool, because all my initial efforts to make them felt forced, awkward and ultimately unsatisfying.”
Some parents may even say they make them feel worse, but this wasn’t my story, although I am very aware I was lucky. Your friends — no matter if they are “mom friends” or not — need to be in line with what you need out of a friendship, or you are going to feel like a bag of shit after hanging out with them. So, find the right crew for you.
Not only have my mom friends given me new life and wholly accepted me in a way my friends without kids just can’t, they just get it.
They understand when you have to cancel a play date and have no concrete reason other than you “simply cannot make it out of the house today.”
They know what you need before you ask for it, because they are going through the same shit day in and day out.
They tend to have things you are out of in their purse, like extra snacks and wipes.
They don’t judge you when you walk into their house with a sticker in your hair and dried bananas crusted to your t-shirt.
I had a group of friends, then I had a child who became my whole life. They were still there for me, they still showed up if I needed anything, they still listened to me talk about my sore nipples and the best diaper rash cream. They loved my child.
But my mom friends were the ones who breathed new life into me. After meeting them, I felt rescued. In my book, there is absolutely nothing like becoming friends with someone who is going through the same thing you are. But the biggest reason my mom friends were absolutely necessary to me?
They made me a better mom, and you just can’t put a price on that.