I was the first among my peers to have a baby.
I had never felt as alone as I did in the midst of new parenthood. I wanted so badly to have someone to talk to, someone to understand me and my new life.
I loved my friends, but how would they ever understand what it feels like to do the death march with your new baby from 5pm-10pm everynight, crying along with your baby because she just won’t settle…let alone sleep? How could they relate to me at all when they were working, studying, going out — childless and free?
Suddenly I was on the outside looking in at their ordinary freedoms, the ones which had slipped so slyly through my fingers the day my baby girl was born.
I was so in love with my daughter (still am) but spending the day talking to a baby, when your hormones are raging and you're not sure if you're crazy or normal, made me fear for my sanity. I needed another person to talk to...so I felt a little jealous of my single child-less friends some days, yes, but mostly I felt lonely.
My relationship with my husband was as great as it could be — which is to say it thank gawd for him because I relied on his undying love and friendship to get through this crazy stage of our new life. We were new parents with a tiny human wedged in between our once-effortless love. It was suddenly hard to find things to not get upset about (lack of sleep can do a number on your psyche) and harder still to go out together. Our baby’s needs were so constant that we were both so exhausted we barely talked…just nodded solemnly as we took on our nightly duties to adjust to life with our new little human.
We would find the new pattern of our love eventually, but not yet. Not for a while.
Everything I read told me I needed to find a “mom tribe” or I would be relegated to a lifetime of joyless parenting. Mom friends would get it. Mom friends would bring you wine and tell you you’re doing just fine. Mom friends would hang at home or stroll in the park and never go out to meals or movies — just like you. Mom friends were the ones to whom you were supposed to spill all those dark parenting thoughts, and they would nod and say, “Me too.” I imagined the serendipitous meeting of my new crew members. I wouldn’t even have to say a word, because there would be this intuitive understanding of what it means to be a mother — we would click, we would know, like soulmates bonded to one another before ever meeting.
I wanted that mom-magic. I knew it was out there somewhere.
So I went to mommy meet-ups. I tried reconnecting with old high school buddies who had kids. I awkwardly approached other moms at the park to no avail. The deep connection I was searching for simply wasn’t there. I didn’t find my tribe; I didn’t find a new best friend or mom-soulmate. Little by little, I started connecting with mom friends, but mostly, I gave up on the venture. It felt too forced and trite when I approached people hoping they’d be my one true mom-love.
I eventually realized what I really needed was to rekindle my relationships with my non-mom friends — the ones who understood me at a level that simply couldn’t be mimicked by newly-budding friendships.
Their lives were no longer mirror images of my own, but in our friendships I was still able to see pieces of myself reflected. Pieces that motherhood had made me forget.
I told them the things I longed to tell my mythical mom-friends, and they may not have understood, but they listened. They let me be. They brought wine and told me I was doing just fine. They held space for me. It took me a while to realize it, but they were all I ever needed.
Mom friendships form organically as the years go on, but what you really need out the gate isn’t a “mom tribe.” You simply need a tribe. Period.
You need women who will understand you, hear you out, and accept you where you stand, even if they’ve never been there themselves.
Mom friends are important, sure, but they will come when they come. Don’t forget the friends who are already standing next to you. Don’t destroy yourself looking for love when you’re already surrounded by it.