Making friends as an adult is hard. Making mom friends — you know, the ones who live close by and are willing to hear you opine on everything from the four-month sleep regression to what solids upset your baby’s tummy — well, that’s even harder.
And it should come as no surprise. Making the first move with a new mom can be just as awkward as asking someone out on a first date... or maybe even MORE awkward, considering the immediate meet my family (aka my baby) component. Plus, no matter how much you think you’ve got this, there are so many different opinions when it comes to parenting, that you may constantly feel judged — even when you’re not.
“Having a baby, becoming a mother, there are a lot of commonalities and there are a lot of common themes and a lot of shared experiences — but every mother’s experience is different,” reproductive psychiatrist Alexandra Sacks M.D., co-author of the book What No One Tells You: A Guide to Your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood, told Personal Space. “I often hear that essentially you are in the same spot but experiencing things perhaps very differently — so that can be a challenge for things sort of organically coming together in new friendships.”
But it doesn’t have to be so difficult or intimidating to feel connected post-baby — nor should befriending a mom spark fear that it will result in more drama than a Real Housewives reunion special. Why?
We are already so connected.
With my incredibly helpful parents nearby, my husband afforded a long parental leave, a steady stream of good friends eager to visit, and a little guy whose big personality is seriously fun, I wasn’t necessarily interested in making local mom friends. (No mom matchmaking apps for me!) Between feeding times, snoozes, and diaper changes, the logistics alone sounded like a nightmare.
But as soon as I announced my baby’s arrival on social media, my world started buzzing with DMs from old friends, former classmates, and friends of friends whom I hadn’t been in touch with for years... and were also home with their newborns and wanting to meet IRL. Surprise! Old friends can become new friends, especially when they live nearby and are literally going through the same baby milestones at the same exact time.
Plus, seeing as you knew them before the baby, you already have more in common than simply having little humans in your arms all the time. It’s kind of like shopping your closet and finding shoes you haven’t worn in ages. It may take a while to break them in again, but after a while they could end up being quite comfy — and even remind you of where you’ve been in the past.
Remember, moms don’t have to talk about motherhood 24/7.
Sometimes new moms “want to bond and talk about babies so a mom group would be a social fit,” noted Dr. Sacks — but with many moms, when they actually have a break, they’re trying to get their minds off the daily minutiae of motherhood. “A lot of people are trying to … reconnect with other parts of themselves and maybe when they’re around other moms the conversation naturally gravitates to taking care of babies,” she explained. “Maybe that’s the last thing they want to talk about when they are out of the house.”
And despite what Dr. Sacks explained could be an “incredible desire for community as a new mom” (just look at all those mom Facebook groups!), it can be difficult to form a real bond when the only commonality between new moms is the fact that their babies are the same age. Just remember to search for other topics to discuss — and try to keep your judgment off the table when they do want to talk about babies. “There is no rulebook, there’s no one way to manage each type of baby’s issues,” said Dr. Sacks. “All babies are different, all moms are different.”
Friends may just beget new friends.
Well, just like they say that sleep begets sleep for a baby, this may be easier said than done. But once you’ve reconnected with some familiar moms (even if just for a few bleary-eyed coffee or lunch dates) or seasoned moms (who can tell you that your middle-of-the-night worries are normal and that, yes, you’ve got this), there may be less pressure when putting yourself out there during your kiddo’s music class.
You may be feeling more inclined then to chat up the stroller-wheeling mom you always see at the same neighborhood spots or even check out a local mom group without feeling compelled to fit any sort of mold. Who knows, you may just find the magical unicorn of new mom friends. You just need to make a move.
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