When we first started seriously considering trying to start our family, among my many concerns was navigating motherhood with no family around. All of our relatives are out of state, so we knew going in there would be no help with sick kids, no last minute date nights, no one to call for pick up if we had to work late,. I don't mean to sound like our families aren't wonderful, they just live hundreds of miles away. If our kids need something, which they often do, it's on one of us to provide it.
I've found that there's only one way to survive this situation. You need to have friends that become family.
It's just essential.
I've mentioned before that my friend Kristin came and picked me and Dalton up to take me to the hospital when I was in labor with Royce. When we had stomach flu earlier this summer, my friend Liz dropped Tylenol on our porch. Eric and I forgot we had an evening event one night and had to work late, and our friends Carrie and Bobbi took both our kids, fed them, entertained them, and did it so well they didn't even care that we weren't there. It's kind of a big deal to find people to watch two very young children, in addition to their own young children.
You get the gist - it's essential to have a kick ass mom squad. I've been all over social media posting about how I just went on an out of the country, no kid vacation with my mom tribe of 5 (me, Carrie, Bobbi, Liz and Hope). They aren't just mom friends, they are true friends, and even our husbands had a great time without us, smoking cigars at the pool bar. While I can't say for sure, I would imagine it's just as useful even if you do have family living close by.
I had never met any of these ladies prior to giving birth. We didn't attend each other's baby showers, we didn't even know each other pregnant. It's crazy to think of now. So here's my best tips for creating your own mom squad.
|In Punta Cana with my tribe!|
- Mom support groups
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times - the new mom support group run by my hospital is amazing. You don't even have to have delivered there, they truly welcome everyone. It's run by a nurse and every other week an LC is there, so you have the option for professional advice.While that is certainly helpful, the true gem is meeting other mothers who just had their own baby and are trying to figure this nonsense out alongside you. I first met Carrie and Hope there when Dalton was not even a month old and just beyond tiny. I attended again with Royce, and one of the women I met there dropped clothes on my porch when I said I didn't have anything warm enough in newborn sizes for the unseasonably cool weather that May.
- Get out of your comfort zone
Carrie and Hope invited me to go get sushi with them afterwards, and I texted Eric all excitedly "I MADE FRIENDS". I was so nervous, like it was a first date, and it even ended up being the first time I nursed in public, since they were, I went for it! I had been super nervous taking my brand new baby out to a restaurant for the first time with people who were practically strangers, but I'm so glad I did.
- Always be on the lookout for potential friends.
I'm an introvert and just as socially awkward as any blogger, I even have witnesses who will provide a statement confirming that. When I first moved to my current home, Baltimore, from upstate NY where I had previously lived my entire life, it took me years to make friends. Years! Obviously we all know your time becomes a lot more limited once those babies arrive, so I couldn't afford to dilly dally with mom friends.
I met my friend Liz when she came to my old apartment on one of the coldest days of the year to get some formula samples I didn't need that I'd posted in a local FB exchange group. We started chatting and realized we both had biracial baby boys born just 9 days apart! Long story short, on another crazy winter day, in the middle of an ice storm, I went to her house to stay with her (bigger) baby boy after her water broke and she went to the hospital!
If you meet anyone anywhere that seems even possibly like someone you would want to hang out with, awkwardly invite them to a playdate and hope for the best.
I just got together with my friend Kandi, who I originally "met" when she tweeted me that her baby was born after reading my blog. We quickly became actual, IRL friends and survived the #twoundertwo experiment together.
It's 2017! Time to internet mom date.
- Mobilize existing resources
Just convince the friends you already have to join you in the family way. If you're a basic bitch like me who turns 30 and starts spitting babies out, it will likely happen anyway. You even might reconnect with people you had kind of lost touch with, because nothing brings women together like pregnancy and babies. Sure, you might unfortunately lose a friend here or there if it turns out she's a sanctimommy, but for the most part it's a likely win. IF you follow the below advice.
|Friends since middle school, babies born a week apart!|
- Don't be a judgy asshole. This one is the most important.
I know a lot of moms, most of them have kids close in age to mine, so I feel fairly confident in saying that finding a mom tribe of women who do things just like you is unlikely. You know all those super duper life changing parenting decisions you make when your kid is a baby? We all did them differently. Holding out for someone who wants to do everything exactly like you? Ain't nobody got time for that.
Our kids are all either 3 or dangerously close now, and I promise you cannot tell who formula fed, who breast fed, who co slept, who cried it out, who had purees, who was baby led weaned, who stayed home with their mom, who went to daycare while their mom worked, who walked early, who walked late, etc, etc. Our 5 kids all run the gamut with all those mommy wars items listed, and now that they are older, we are still going to have our differences in how we parent them.
What we bond over is that we all love the crap out of our kids, and we all have moments where they annoy the crap out of us. And we all vaccinate. That's the one area I will draw the line and judge you.
Here's the difficult part: You can't go around acting like your way is the right way, and make disparaging comments about your friends do things, couched by disclaimers like "oh but it's all right for you". Phrases like "I would never" should, actually, never cross your lips. Because kids are constantly changing, you might have another one who's totally different, so what you would "never" do in that moment might suddenly become a really appealing option. Or, maybe you truly will never do it. Unless it's giving a kid ecstasy or just throwing them in the backseat of the car with no carseat, 50s style, get off your high horse.
It's easier said than done, because when we are trying to figure out how the hell to parent these children, you never really know what you are doing. Drawing lines in the sand and vilifying the "other" way is a surefire way to make yourself feel better about your own choices. The problem with that is, it makes you a jerk and then you'll likely never have a true mom tribe. When things don't go as planned and your ZOMG FOODIE BABY LED WEANED little cherub refuses to eat vegetables when he turns two, you really need friends to lean on.
It's simple really. Try out all the stuff I listed above, don't be all smug and holier than thou, and vaccinate yo kid.