Making Mommy Friends
By Bernadette Austin (Guest blogger)
We have lots of different types of friends. You have your Work Crew, the colleagues and mentors who you can vent to about sensitive projects and office politics with industry jargon that sounds like gibberish to outsiders. You have your Running Buddies and your Gym Bunnies who already have a shared interest—that naturally extends to, say, eating and drinking heavily together to celebrate the calories you collectively burn. And then there are Mommy Friends.
Unlike your Work Crew, Running Buddies, and Gym Bunnies, you don’t necessarily share a common interest with these people. You just happened to get knocked up around the same time. How’s that for an awkward ice breaker?
But hear me out.
These fellow mommies might be more important that your other friend groups—at least for the next 18 or some odd years of your life.
Motherhood is hard and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. No professional endeavor, fitness class, or endurance race can compare to the unrelenting mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual investment required to raise a helpless mini-human into a functioning adult over the course of two decades.
The problem is that making friends as a grown-up is a lot like making friends in adolescence. Everyone else is as awkward and lonely as you are, but none of us would ever admit that we didn’t get the parenting manual that they hand out with newborns. My solution has been to address it the same way.
Step 1: Throw a Party
My daughter is starting Kindergarten soon, so we started organizing playdates with the other incoming kinders through the magic of Facebook. The original intention was to help the kids get to know each other, but it’s clear that the parents are enjoying it even more. We really crave getting to meet like-minded people whose children will be our child’s classmates, fremenies, teammates, and crushes for years to come.
Step 2: Join the Club
Parents don’t have prom committee and yearbook, but my son’s cooperative preschool does have a version of these. It’s our family’s third year at James Marshall Parent Participation Nursery School , a 60-year-old school just across the Sacramento River from the grid and a little over two miles from the Capitol. Over the course of the year, parents volunteer in the classroom each week and serve on committees that do things like make homemade playdoh, plant the school garden, and, yes, even create the school yearbook and plan the Valentine’s Dance. This school is one of the few valid justifications I have for the hours I spend pinning cute snacks and creative craft projects on Pinterest.
Before becoming a mom, I made my best friends in life: in high school and grad school, working out, at the office. Now, through my children’s cooperative preschool, I have made some new lifelong friends.
In the same way that you need colleagues who will support your professional development and fellow runners who will get you out on the trail on the days you just can’t, you also need Mommy Friends who can support you through the tough times and help you be even better in your demanding and rewarding job as a mother.