I’ve always been a girls’ girl. I love having close female friendships, some of which I’ve been lucky enough to have since childhood. I’ve always valued sharing, venting, crying, and laughing freely with a trusted circle of confidantes. My circle has always been somewhat small yet flexible, finding that the older I got, the less time and energy I could dedicate to non-true friendships.
The friendship dynamic in your life undergoes a huge transformation when you become a mother. You still love and miss your pre-baby friends, but a part of you yearns to be surrounded by others who are going through what you are going through. After the dust settles and the first couple of crazy, tearful, love-filled, exhausting months of motherhood are behind you, you kind of re-emerge. I felt like a hibernating bear, waking up from its long winter sleep, shaking off the dust, and opening its eyes again.I felt my strength slowly return; My baby was growing and thriving and I was ready to be me again. I started to miss the social interactions from my old life – simple things, like going for a quick coffee with a co-worker or a phone call with a friend on my lunch break. I knew I couldn’t have those things again in the same way, so I looked for new versions of them.
As a new mom, you are stuck in a strange limbo, an in-between space between your old self and your future self. Your old friends are all busy with non-baby things, and yet the thought of putting yourself out there and making the effort to meet new people is daunting and scary. You are still fragile; You are still healing, vulnerable, and trying to make sense of all this newness. The friends you have that are moms with older kids are already out of this space – they are usually back in the workplace or have somehow resumed their pre-baby activities.
I found that in the past, a friendship in my life was created from a unique combination of shared values, background, sense of humour, etc. Now, however, when I meet a new mom or exchange a quick smile with a fellow stroller-pushing woman on the street, I feel an instant connection. I don’t ask for much – if you are nice, I want to be friends. This doesn’t mean I discount non-moms as potential new friends, it just means that there is a very special and very rare connection a woman feels towards another woman who has just gone through the same life-altering event as she has.
I understand now why so many of my mother’s good friends were ones she had met when my brother was a baby and little boy. My mom was an immigrant, new to Canada and uprooted from her family and friends. I understand now how my shy, soft-spoken mother formed such strong, connected friendships with a few special women she met at the playground, at the beach, and at preschool.
I get it now – why women need mom friends. I used to think of this as a sad rejection of a woman’s old life, friendships, and lifestyle, but it’s not like that at all. It stems not from a need to remove the old and replace it with the new, but from the need to be understood. A new mother is so fragile. She is so focused and dedicated on her little one that her life temporarily becomes not her own. There is something so freeing and so beautifully simple about having someone to talk to about things like breastfeeding, pacifiers, and baby poops. A sisterhood is created – an understanding that she knows what it’s like.