When Piper S., took her baby to the playground for the first time, she was surprised by the experience. What she expected would be a milestone moment filled with laughter, play and lots of photos of her baby girl on her first swing, instead turned into a trip racked with anxiety and dread.
“I discovered all of these little mom pockets filled with clusters of women chatting and laughing with each other,” said Piper, a part-time graphic designer based in Brooklyn. “I’m sure I could have gone up and introduced myself, but I just didn’t feel like saying hello or joining the group, and now I feel like there’s something wrong with me.”
Ohhh mom friends – those women who exist solely to accompany you on the journey of motherhood. You’ll text them all night regarding your baby’s feeding and nap schedule, about sleep regressions and whether or not those bumps around their mouth is actually impetigo – women who you may have nothing in common with outside your little lumps of love but who have suddenly become central to your existence. Are they totally necessary? It depends.
“I never bothered to make ‘mom friends’ because I happened to be pregnant at or around the same time as my college friends, so we all transitioned into mom friends together,” said Lindsay F., a full-time mama who lives on Long Island.
But for the rest of us, those who might not have a fully baked out “mom crew,” the anxiety of making mom friends might outweigh the joy of having them, at least for some women. It’s like sleep-away camp all over again, and that’s stressful.
“As hard as this can feel when you have a newborn, being part of a community decreases isolation which can lead to anxiety and depression,” says Jacqueline Furst, a therapist based in New York. “But meeting friends at any new stage in our lives is challenging and can be anxiety provoking. It can also stir up feelings from past experiences of how hard it is to make new friends. Again, all normal!”
If you’re ready to branch out, Furst recommends starting slow. Try visiting a local park with a coffee and sit next to a mom who also has a newborn in a stroller. You can also ask your pediatrician if they run a new moms group or take your baby to a music or yoga class. “If you find yourself really overwhelmed with these ideas, find a therapist to talk to in order to process past experiences and come up with a concrete plan to start socializing,” says Furst.
Just remember, mom friends can be life-changing. It’s this kind of community outside of family that can ground us in our motherhood journey. As Furst says, “Friends support our mental health while we support our newborns and families.”