The following is in response to a New York Magazine piece: Trying to Make Mom Friends Is The Worst
I’ll start by sharing that writing this is not what I expected to be doing today. I woke up, dropped my son off at preschool, had an amazing conversation with a mom in the parking lot, rushed home, gave my baby Tylenol to bring down her 102 degree fever, and hopped onto our weekly call. It was an awesome call. We talked about our newest feature, Socials, and our progress with regard to the upcoming international expansion of Mom Meet Mom. At the end of the call our developers dropped off and my two partners and I (three moms) engaged in what turned out to be my second sweet mom-on-mom conversation of the day – which ended with one of my partners bringing your article to my attention.
I scanned it and immediately recognized similarities between you and I – our names are even spelled the same – though I didn’t have time to process everything because I needed to rush back to pick up my son and then take my daughter to the doctor for her worsening croup. It was only in the waiting room, while my daughter slept and my toddler played, that I could pull out my phone and reread your article. This time my reaction was a little different.
I’ll admit that after scanning it, I wanted to reach out and say, “You’ve got it girl! Let’s skip the sing-alongs and grab a drink next time I’m down in NYC.”
But then I realized we’d both be in the wrong if I did that because we’d both be running away. Running from the challenges. Running from all the other moms like us.
When I was pregnant for the first time, I (like you) was the first of my friends to be starting a family. I can remember intentionally putting on a show because I was scared to death of the unknown and I wanted to make this mommy thing look cool. I actually refused to wear maternity clothes because my shallow first impression of the few brands I even bothered to check out was just terrible.
“You won’t catch me dead in that stuff,” I said. “I’ll make my own clothes if I have to.”
Then I had my son and God decided to pull the rug out from under me. I fell in love with my boy immediately and yet simultaneously took on a level of isolation that to this day I can’t quite wrap my head around. Sing-alongs??? Not only did I hate them, but I managed to ruin them, too, within five minutes of showing up. My son cried… All. The. Time. So I left with a chip on my shoulder, thinking this is so not for us.
I went home and locked the door behind me. It’s just me and you buddy. I struggled to take care of myself. I dropped my pregnancy weight (and then some) thanks to stress and exhaustion. Frankly, I looked like shit. And yet, each time I left the house, I somehow managed to throw on the same fake game face I had mastered early on. I was going to survive this – or at least the world was going to think so.
When I met with my friends they couldn’t believe quite how thin I was. I accepted this as a compliment because my internal voice was scolding me. It said, whatever you do, don’t hold onto that extra weight or you might end up like all the other moms out there. I walked, and my friends talked. They were concerned but had no idea how to approach me because we were at such different stages.
Off I went into the world alone with a chip on my shoulder and a screaming baby on my hip. It slowly started to get more and more overwhelming, and eventually I began to feel totally defeated.
I couldn’t feed my son with a bottle. He wouldn’t take it and rejected anything other than breastmilk, though even that made him sick sometimes. When I was out in public, I had two choices: let the people stare at me breastfeeding or let them stare because my son would scream until he threw up if I didn’t (the kid was persistent, I’ll give him that). I was at an all time low and no one knew.
Then something happened. One day in my frazzled state, I noticed a woman staring and instead of ignoring her, I stopped and looked up. Another day and another time, same thing…
Slowly I began to make friends with complete strangers. The weirdest part? We never said a single word to each other.
For the second half of the first year of my son’s life, day after day, I made eye contact with other moms. Some of them didn’t know how to handle my situation (it looked pretty rough), but most of them did. While my child screamed, they smiled – at me. Their eyes offered support. And their unspoken words felt to me like Heaven on earth….
“It’s okay mama, I’ve got your back.”
“Don’t worry mama, it will pass and get so much better, I promise.”
“I wish I could help you but your really doing an amazing job.”
“I remember my son was exactly like that. I’m here for you.”
It was like God was rolling the rug back down so I could regain my footing. Slowly but surely my ideas about what being a mom meant and my perception of what other moms are really like changed. And so did my purpose.
The truth is that momdating (mom friending) is whatever we make of it. We can judge, and we can react to being judged. Or we can empower one another and start to take an active role in the universal sorority we are automatically accepted into when we become moms. Like-minded or not, we are all mothers and we all had that same damn rug pulled from underneath us. We can resist these changes or regain control and empower one another. We all deserve to be happy and to love this stage of our lives.
Tonight I plan to hit a bar in Boston with some of my best friends from high school. We make an effort to meet up about once a month. Next Friday I’ll have my closest mom friends over for our bi-monthly wine Friday – a time when we can all turn off those fake smiles and let loose while our kids play in the background. In January I will rally for a good friend’s engagement party, and then a few nights later meet a bunch of moms for a moms’ night out.
So when I am in NYC next, I really hope we can actually meet because, yes, you do remind me a lot of myself. And I believe that together we can defeat the negative and awkward perception of motherhood and mom dating that so often gets the best of moms like us.
Consider yourself one mom friend up. Who else is in?
…Best spelling ever ; )