Why I've Stopped Looking for New 'Mom Friends'

moms and their kids playing

In the Sea of Momming, you'll see great and terrible things. Am I waving? Am I drowning? Come closer, let me show you how it's both -- unless you're a mother of young children, too, in which case, the statistical probability that we'll sink each other is high.


You would think I'd be able to float far and fast on this pontoon stomach now in my possession, but no. That I could paddle my way to shore with these twin-toting, flying-food-catching, toddler-shoe-tying, city-stroller-maneuvering badass arms, but no. I do think toddler-shoe-tying should qualify you for the Green Berets or the Olympics. Or a free Jell-O shot.

It isn't that I don't want to be friends with other mothers. I have mom friends. We meet at the park and push strollers together. We smuggle wine into the movies, remember the corkscrew, forget the cups, and cruise by the coffee spot at Trader Joe's to lift a few. It's just that we're all bad friends right now, and I need some good friends to balance this wildly rocking ship.

Other mothers are just as tired as I am

From putting pepper in our coffee to not being able to find the keys that are right in our hands to eating cold eggs off the floor where they were slung, moms of little ones are stretched. Before Momming, I never forgot an appointment, was never late, and had a photographic memory. Those days are gone, and while I don't miss them much, that photographic memory would come in handy about now. Maybe I gave it to the babies. As soon as they can talk, I'm going to start giving them the grocery list and see if they can help a momma out. Recently, I couldn't remember my own address. The men in white coats are right around the corner some days.

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All the other mothers, they're doing these mental gymnastics, too. Grocery listing, laundry switching, when was the baby changed, whose call was I supposed to return, and oh God there's a birthday party this weekend! Shoes. Where are your shoes?! Sheesh, when did I defrost this chicken [frowns and pokes it gingerly]?

We moms make playdates and sometimes hang in the baby bay while carrying thermoses brimming with cruise ship drinks. But when I don't hear from a mom friend for two weeks, I get it. I know hibernation mode. Just like for bears, it has a purpose. For moms, that purpose is to retreat before you find yourself cussing out the parent who let her 5-year-old hog the only baby swing.

We are needy, and it's an honest condition. We need sleep, adult conversation, and to be off-duty for just a minute. After my preemie twins were born, I didn't sleep more than three hours a day for eight months. Some days I do nothing more than wipe body parts and I can't string a coherent sentence together. I used to know about art! I used to read!

Younger, childless friends are freer

They can meet you for drinks if your spouse comes home unexpectedly early and they're up for a 9 p.m. taco truck run. They'll let you touch their shimmering liberty for a few hours, to share in the carelessness of it all, even if you'd never go back to those days. They'll allow you to slip off your Mom badge and chum with people still figuring out the possibilities of life -- people who can't see the dark circles under your eyes in the low light and high ABV. Let's take a moment to toast our younger friends who prop us up with a night out, or who pity us enough to drink wine on our patio when we can't get a sitter. This drink is for y -- zzzzzz.

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Your childless young friends might think it's fun to entertain your cherub so you can go pee for as long as you like. Alone. They knew you before, when you were like them, before you took that long walk off that short nine-month pier. They can give you honest feedback on whether you're being neurotic about pantry organization.

Older friends are more reliable

They say they'll bring you dinner or help you with a project and they actually will, unlike your mom friends who are there in spirit, but not bodily. The wheels are firmly attached to their buses and, if they've raised children of their own, they know how much you just need to see their face as you come up for air. That you need to hear about someone's day that didn't include bodily fluids. You need to know that one day you'll get yourself back and, God willing, have your little humans as friends. They know you need to laugh. They KNOW. 

They will talk you off the roof when you're thinking about divorce or running away to Fiji. They know you need some things for yourself, to reaffirm you're still a person and not an apparition. Older friends have sent me baby gifts, sure, but they've also sent beautiful French coffee table books, scented hand cream, and wine, thank heavens.

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Picking friends isn't exactly like picking a puppy at the shelter (and you should do that), but it helps to look outside your hermetically sealed mom-bubble. I'm not talking about the cashier at the store where you're buying diapers, so don't try to slide that by me. I'm talking about people you used to spend time with before, friends you miss, and acquaintances who just might be future friends. Or people you see at the park or church or in your neighborhood. Say more than "hi." Stop the stroller and chat a moment.

But if they're wearing a white coat and smiling too much, just play it cool and start edging away.

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