I was admittedly nervous. Butterflies in my stomach. So many unknowns.
Will it go well? What if we don’t have chemistry? What if there are too many lulls in conversation? Do we have enough in common to really start something?
Thoughts were swirling through my head and my palms were sweaty. Do we hug when we say hello? I haven’t done this in so long I forgot how it works. I took a breath, opened the door and walked in…here goes nothing!
Nope. Not a first date.
It was the first day of mommy and me as a second-time, divorced then remarried, 40-year-old mom, and let me tell you it’s not so different from those first date jitters.
You literally walk into a room filled with women you’ve never met and you’re automatically supposed to hit it off because you all have tiny humans. That’s the hope at least. Truthfully, sometimes there’s chemistry and sometimes there is not. You may instantly connect and lock eyes across the room because you have the same diaper bag and think, “OMG, We are totally going to be besties. Our kids are going to grow up together and eventually be roommates in college and bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. We’ll be together forever.”
Except it doesn’t always work like that.
I had my first child at 31 in a different state with a different man, a whole different lifetime ago. I went back to work at three months on the dot and never made “mom friends”. When I moved back home with a toddler and enrolled her in preschool I did not feel at home or like I fit in with everyone. I made a few great mom friends who I still speak to regularly and love, but overall I didn’t get the warm and fuzzies so I just clung to my “regular” friends and went through the motions.
Then I had baby number two at the ripe age of 40 (which can feel downright geriatric in classes with the first-time moms) and enrolled in a different program to try it out. I’m not jaded. I’m madly in love with my baby, but having been through this before I do not ooh and ahh when she blinks; sometimes I wipe her pacifier on my shirt if it falls on the floor instead of sterilizing it; I don’t rush home to get her nap in if I have errands to run. Will all of that prevent me from making friends; from forging connections and forming a new little mom squad?
I can’t lie. I was skeptical. How am I going to have anything in common with these moms. I’ve been divorced and remarried. I have two kids with two different men. My life is messy and chaotic. I’m different.
The first couple of classes were definitely spent feeling each other out. I’m sure we all looked around and had some form of preconceived notions of one another based on first impressions.
“Oh her house is probably immaculate with monogrammed hand towels in every bathroom.”
“It sounds like her husband is super hands-on. That’s refreshing!”
“Oy! Her husband sounds like a douchebag.”
“She needs a night out without her kids.”
“I want to raid her closet.”
“She needs to get laid…like tonight.”
In the interest of full-disclosure, this was not your “typical” mommy and me. Yes there was music and sensory stuff and all kinds of kid-friendly activity. However, our teachers/leaders took time each class to go around the room and ask questions. At first I was like, are you kidding me, is this really necessary? Do we have to do the whole icebreaker thing? (I’m also that mom who loathes any sort of bridal shower or baby shower game. Seriously, make me eat melted candy out of a diaper and guess what it is and you are dead to me.)
But then I realized THAT’S where the magic happened.
Because that’s when the mom’s took a giant step back from the babies crawling around us and got to know each other. One by one as everyone took her turn, we all got a little glimpse into the life of the mom answering the question. In the beginning it was questions about baby sleeping, and eating. And then, as we got more comfortable and let our little (or big) walls down, the vulnerability started to show. People felt comfortable answering honestly instead of putting on a façade.
“My baby is waking up every 2 hours and I’m going to lose my shit. I’m at my wit’s end and I don’t know what else I can possibly do.”
“No! My husband does not help. He sits on the couch scratching his balls (and I want to kick him in that very spot) while I’m feeding and bathing two children who are screaming that they don’t want to go to bed and kicking me in the stomach as I try and get their PJs on.”
We laughed, cried and commiserated. We bonded. I was smitten.
We started to make plans for lunches after class. And dinners without the kids.
Every class, every conversation was like another date, another step into our relationship. Not only did we grow to fall in love each other, but also we loved each other’s kids. Whether you want to admit it or not, that’s a big deal because we ALL know that you can love your friends and not be crazy about their children. Fact.
There was also no bullshit or keeping up with the Joneses among the group. We are who we are; we own it, make no apologies and accept each other without talking shit or being judgy. THAT is how mom friends should be. There’s enough momshaming and sanctimommy behavior around us at every turn and it doesn’t belong (nor is it allowed) here.
I went in a skeptic thinking there was no way I would find my tribe. But that’s exactly what happened. We are a group of women with different personalities, different outlooks on parenting and different family dynamics and of across a wide-age spectrum but somehow it’s perfect. I can’t even picture it any other way.
These are my people and I’m thankful I found them.