Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Making Mommy Friends

I’ve found that making friends as an adult is not as easy as it was when I was a kid. Kid is defined as “in school of some kind” – so that includes college. Actually, I recall that making friends in college was easy-peasy. I would meet someone while moving into a dorm and we would be best friends 48 hours later. The excessive beer drinking could also have been a factor. Possibly.

In my twenties, I was married and my only kids were feline and canine. Making new friends in a new city wasn’t easy. I had work friends. I had buddies from the neighborhood. I had friends from the dog park. But it took a couple of years before any of them became my real friends. And then, as soon I had them and loved them, it was time to move again.  Shizzle.  That still gives me the red ass and it was nine years ago.

Everyone says that once you have kids it gets a lot easier to make friends. Then again, everyone also said you lose tons of weight while breastfeeding. But the size of my enormous ass discounts the veracity of that little tidbit of maternal wisdom. Another myth shot to hell, thank you very much.

The whole making friends with kids thing though, is partially true. When the kids are older. When they’re little babies, especially with your first baby, it can be incredibly isolating and lonely. Because it’s all about meeting their basic, primal needs all the time so that they will not perish and the world will not implode. And that just doesn’t leave a lot of time for other things. Like sleeping or basic hygiene or attempts to reclaim your sanity.

When I had my first baby, I had no family living nearby and only a handful or neighbors and acquaintances, who while truly lovely people, were not what I needed. Mostly because at the time, I didn’t know what that was. It turns out what I needed was a mommy friend who would tell me: “You are a total psycho but that’s normal. Now let’s go to Barnes and Noble and get lattes and pretend we still know how to read.”

Though that’s not entirely fair because at the time I could still read (unlike now). As long as it was Good Night Moon or UsWeekly.

In 2003, what I needed was a Kate. I had a wonderful husband who thankfully, was really supportive and just as overwhelmed by and crazy about becoming a parent as I was. But he was at work all day. And he was f*cking asleep all night. And he was (and remains) a dude.

So for the first year, I spent a lot of time on the phone with friends from far away. And watching TV. And being alternately resentful and snarly and then guilty and weepy and failure-y that the whole thing wasn’t easier. I kept asking myself if it was supposed to be this hard?

Yes. I know, Kate. That’s what she said.

Then somehow, when I least expected it and most needed it, a miracle happened. I ended up in a playgroup. It was five first time mommies and five almost-one-year-old little girls. The girls enjoyed playing together, but it wasn’t really about them. It was about us. Woot! Finally...  Because all of us were loving being mommies but kept wondering what the hell happened to us.  And when we figured out we weren't alone in the confusion and chaos, it became infinitely more easy to deal with.

I could say things to them that no one else understood. Like the fact that I was watching so many Wiggles DVD’s that I actually had a sex dream about the blue one. Or that the lack of sleep was turning me into angry old witch who was a total B to her husband all the time. That going to the Starbucks drive-thru was the most exciting part of my day and I was fully aware that that made me totally pathetic. That every time I heard Dora the Explorer’s voice it was like someone flipped a Manchurian Candidate kill switch in my head and I just wanted to smash things and set fires.

And instead of being like: “That’s frightening and off-putting. You should consider spending the weekend wearing a huggy jacket in a nice bouncy room.” They were like, “The Blue Wiggle. Yeah. Let’s google him.”

This is what we saw when we googled him...
And there was no weirdness or drama or competitiveness. Just support and kindness and booby jokes. It was great. And I had no idea just how unique our situation was, how special each of them were. And that I will never be able to duplicate what we had for that year. Because once I had made these amazing friends, who were supportive and understanding and funny… We moved again.

Awesome. Thank you, fates that guide my husband’s career.

But even though it was awful to leave, it really was OK. Only one of the five mommies is still there (military town - though we are not military - enough said). And we got each other through the worst of it, those first two years of mommyhood. Because once your kiddos get older, you get out of the house a lot more. You start to have a life again, even if it’s nothing like the life you used to have. The one where you were cool or badass or had a single second of autonomy. Sometimes it’s actually even better.

You start preschool or soccer and you’re thrown into the paths of other moms and families. Which is a whole other post (for later this week). Because whether you like it or not, you’re going to be seeing a lot of those mommies. Some of them might make you want to square up and kick them in the taco.  But most of them will be nice.  And possibly they may end up being your best buds or maybe even a Kate.  And that's huge.

Sigh... I know.  That's what she said.

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