Around Henry’s sixth month, I started to feel lonely. My friends had all continued on the same path, and I had diverted to a completely new life. Being one of the first of my group to have a baby was exciting but sometimes alienating. I needed to find some new friends in the neighborhood who could empathize and keep me company during the workweek. Plus, Henry needed some friends too.
I decided to make a concerted effort to be friendly with moms in the neighborhood. It was June, and everyone was out taking walks and going to the park. I often saw the same moms and babies out, and started chatting with random moms at the swings or on a neighboring picnic blanket. It had been years since I was the “new kid,” and it felt extremely awkward. It didn’t help that people thought I was Henry’s nanny. I was quickly reminded that some people are just plain unpleasant and strange. One woman was extremely friendly, which relieved me, but after 3 minutes she started complaining about how her husband is always out late. It was too soon for that conversation.
Meeting a mom and her baby without context can be an awkward situation at first. It’s almost like a blind date. I met many moms before meeting M. She and her baby (“C”), who looked to be the same age as Henry, were sitting on a neighboring picnic blanket in the park. She was having fun with C, talking and playing. I can’t remember exactly what we talked about, but the most common way to strike up a conversation with a mom is to ask how old her baby is. M happened to be the same age as I am, which was an added bonus. It seemed we were destined to be friends, as we discovered she lived in an apartment formerly rented by a close friend of mine. She even invited me to her Catholic mommy group after hearing that I was having trouble meeting other moms. Although she warned me that some of the moms were quite conservative. Perhaps she could tell that I wasn’t conservative from my t-shirt, which read “Peace. Back by popular demand.” We chatted for almost an hour and exchanged phone numbers. We bumped into each other at the park the next day, and M immediately said; “I hope I didn’t scare you off with the Catholic mommy group.” I was relieved that she brought it up. She was my type of friend, unafraid to bring up an uncomfortable topic.
Initially the only thing we had in common was our motherhood, but soon we learned we knew 2 people in common. She and her husband are the godparents of a baby whose father was a college classmate of mine. It really is a small world. We texted each other when we were headed to the park, and if we were both free we’d have a mini-play date. Our babies, although 3 months apart, played great together and were on a similar schedule. As we learned more about each other, we had play dates at our apartments, carpooled up to the farm in the suburbs and met at restaurants for lunch. Henry and C splashed in the baby pool together on our roof deck, and happily sat in restaurant high chairs across from each other. C and her mom have since moved to the suburbs, but we still chat regularly and plan to keep up our visits.
I also met some moms who live down the street through Chris’ work friend. Three families live a block away, and have invited us for many play dates and morning pajama parties. There’s something special about taking a walk with your baby and waving to familiar faces in the street.
The easiest way to meet moms with babies of similar age is in a baby class. We’ve met lots of moms and even dads at baby swim and music class.
It's been very helpful for me to have a diverse portfolio of mommy friends. I know full-time working moms; part-time working moms and stay-at-home mom friends, all of whom help me keep things in perspective. I also commiserate with moms on Facebook and babycenter.com. I enjoy having a network of friends in the mommy world and I know Henry loves meeting new people and being around other babies.
Hooray for my new mommy friends, and of course hooray for my old non-mommy friends. For me, having both equals sanity.