Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Desperate times call for...great friends

I have made a number of close friends in my life. Some are from jobs I’ve had over past ten years, some are from high school, a few from college. All were life preservers in rough waters when I was trying to figure out the who’s, how’s and what the f*&$%’s of an intimidating new world.

Becoming a mother makes for quick and lasting friendships as well–there is nothing like the desperation of women who haven’t slept, smell like spit up and are leaking milk from one or both boobs. We need each other; who else wants to sit near us?

When I had Kingston, instinctively I knew I needed to find other moms. When you are seeking out your herd, look where the herd gathers. I made it my mission to make friends with women in the same situation–new baby, not working for the first time, isolated at home, feet still swollen even though we were promised they’d be back to normal by now. I followed women with babies into Starbucks. I went to any moms group, lunch or music class I could walk my stroller to. Some women I clicked with, some clearly wanted a better catch than I–which did have the familiar sting of rejection. Singles bar.

The women I met in the first months after having Kingston make up a large portion of my current greatest friends. Kingston was 10 weeks old and I was in the depths of new mommyhood loneliness. My misery was as obvious as the lack of sleep was on my face. I felt as though I had no one outside of a husband, infant and dog in my new life. I struck up conversations with the barista at Starbucks just to have adult interaction. Every decision I had made seemed wrong. How did I end up alone with a crying, gassy baby all day, watching The View and emptying the dishwasher every hour?(Thank God for dishwashers, by the way. And Barbara Walters.)

The neighborhood moms group saved my sanity, my life and (don’t judge me, but) possibly my son’s life. I was a walking, crying, screaming, mess. Between the breast pump and the endless laundry, I was a prisoner in my home. My eyebrows were overgrown, my roots dark and I thought I’d never be out of maternity clothes. It would be of no service to anyone to pretend I wasn’t disappointed with the lack of bliss in my domestic life.

Conversation in our group often revolved about returning to work, negotiating holiday time with in-laws and finding a pediatrician who doesn’t make you wait five hours for your appointment, and the best deals on BabySteals. I would also be lying if I didn't say that we had our fair share of "my husband is useless" rants. I liked all the women and truly felt we had a bond among us because we knew what being “up all night with the baby” really does to a person. But it was the women willing to break down in sobs at “how was your weekend?” and admit their desire to walk out the door, leaving husband and baby to fend for themselves that I wanted to hang out with every day. Tell me you hate your mother for instructing you on burping the baby and I will love you forever. I needed the authenticity, the empathy and the embrace of other women who were knee-deep in poop and not. at. all. happy.

Memories of the early days of our budding friendships stay with me: three girls overpowering a tiny suburban coffee shop with our babies, breastfeeding, bottles and burp cloths–and always, the stink of dirty diapers and one hysterical mother and infant (not necessarily related). Almost immediately, and with the enthusiasm of someone who has found religion, we signed on to support, listen to, vent with and entertain one another. We had found our soul mates.

One year later we remain close. One is on to her second child, while the other two of us drag our heels hanging on the memory of the Maternity Leave Mayhem. We are back to work. We rarely see each other as a group. Sometimes I go weeks without talking with them. Despite our early expectations, we are all reasonably happy and mostly well adjusted to family life. While we no longer have standing playdates or meet at Starbucks with our massive strollers, I know that when I am about to ask my husband for a divorce on Facebook or put my child up for sale on Kijiji, I can turn to either of these women for a laugh and perspective, and without the slightest chance of judgment.

I am so grateful!


Rachel@closertome.net said...

I was amazed at the level of closeness I could achieve with another person after I became a Mom, unlike any bond I've ever had with anyone. It's pretty amazing when you are completely free to be who you are without judgment! I'm so glad you have been able to find that :O)

BratNatHouse said...

They are my life line! Thank goodness for REAL girlfriends.