The idea of making mom friends is so bizarre. I can’t think of another situation where you have to become friends with someone based on this one huge and generally unifying factor, except for maybe Alcoholics Anonymous, or other 12-step programs where you have little else in common to start.
Yet making mom friends is considered a crucial part of being a mom. You need someone else strolling along side you in yoga pants with your snap-and-go, 20 pounds of baby gear that you won’t need and half of that weight in baby.
Aside from the mom-friend-as-accessory, there are real reasons to have mom friends from both an emotional and practical stand point – from being a solid source for hand-me-downs to a person you can text at 3am with postpartum freak outs.
It’s helped me to have other people who are trying to figure out the same things I’m wrestling with – what the hell is happening right now, and how do I do the best I can for my kids without traumatizing them or losing my own mind. When I’m wondering why my kid isn’t sleeping, I can text a friend and find out if she went through the same thing. I have learned about the hell of sleep regressions – and that they will pass, just in time to hit you again – from the experience of others. I recently confirmed that my two-year old is a very funny, adorable, lovable asshole, just like his other two-year old asshole friends. That’s good intel.
There are less jokey thing I’ve learned about from mom friends. I had a touch of Postpartum Anxiety with both of my kids, and I didn’t even know that existed until a friend told me she had it too. If I hadn’t know what it was after the fact with my first, I would have been much less prepared to address it with my second baby.
The biggest reason to have mom friends is because of what will happen in your friendships with non-mom friends. You will feel the distance between you and your non-mom friends, even when the childless friends are really kind and accommodating. There are things they won’t understand, and you may mutate into a person that talks about poop, naps and developmental milestones and they don’t care about that. I got lucky that most of our friend circle had kids around the same time we did, and I still like, but rarely see, those that don’t have them yet.
Making mom friends has it’s own challenges, namely that it’s awkward as hell. I’m relieved that I’m not in the dating scene, although messing with other people’s Tinder is much more fun than it probably should. I never dated online, as I lucked out and met my husband the old-fashioned way – by meeting a drunk guy with ridiculous sideburns at a concert, and accidentally asking him out – so I don’t have a lot of current dating scene experience to apply to mom dating. However I do see why so many people talk about making mom friends and dating in the same way.
How to make mom friends
In both dating and making mom friends, you have to put yourself in a place to meet who you want to be with, and you have to not come across as either creepy or insane. Hide that crazy, just like you would on a first date, until you fly that freak flag on the second or third date.
While pregnant, prenatal yoga classes in your neighborhood is a way to meet mothers that will have babies around the same time as you, which translates to a friend to meet for lunch while you’re on leave (hopefully you get to take some maternity leave). Childbirth classes at the hospital where you plan to deliver will also have prospective friends. If you are going for a midwife-assisted home birth or a delivering at a birth center and you don’t have classes to attend, ask your midwife or birth center if they have existing networks you can plug into.
We live in the city so I’m sure that I’m spoiled in the availability of resources. We have breastfeeding support groups and classes, La Leche League meetings, and a neighborhood moms group that new parents can join. I learned about a lot of these resources from neighborhood listservs like those on Yahoo Groups, so get on those if they exist by you. If you can’t find in-person resources you like, there are online support groups for all things. Join a moms group or two, but know that you will find a few moms you like, some useful support if you’re lucky, and if the group is large enough, tons of stupidity as well as lots of suggestions that involve wine or day drinking. There is a lot of drinking supported in moms groups (and yes, I did link AA up above, but here it is again just in case!).
Other than my existing friends who happened to become moms, I made mom friends by meeting other parents at the farmer’s market up the street and at the playground. If I didn’t have friends who became mom friends, I think I would have had to try harder to make friends with the other moms in yoga, or in my neighborhood moms group. It’s also really convenient when you have neighbors with kids, so if you don’t know a neighbor and you both are pushing strollers, that’s an automatic in to just say hi. But the easiest thing to do if you’re thinking about how to make mom friends is just make a suicide-pact arrangement with your friends – like I’ll get pregnant if you do – and then you have a ready-made mom friendship. I’m looking at you, Lisa.