Like a lot of women, when I was pregnant with my first child I studied What to Expect When You Are Expecting and other pregnancy/baby/parenting books, as if I was cramming for an exam! And I was thrilled at the baby shower when I was set up with all the stuff the books said I needed. I was ready to take on the challenge of motherhood, or so I thought.
Those first few weeks were tough. Oh, who am I kidding, the whole experience is tough. Book knowledge and fancy gadgets are not what gets me through though. Having an arsenal of friends is the best thing for a new mom. Some offer wise advice, others will not "get it," but just knowing them will keep you sane.
Remember the feeling in elementary school when you met your best friend. You may not have kept in touch over the years, but that sensation of instantly clicking with a person is something you can have again. Finding a friend who is smack dab in the midst of new mommy-hood is more valuable than all the parenting books combined.
This is the girl who will not only listen as you share a "hilarious" story about spit-up, but will laugh at all the right times, and then ask questions. "Tell me more," she says. Oh yeah, she totally "gets" you because she is going through all the same things.
I have no idea what you are talking about friend
Mom friends are great, but don't cut yourself off from your single or otherwise childless pals. The fact that they honestly do not have any idea what type of pain you have undergone in childbirth, and just as honestly do not ever want to hear about is strangely okay. This friend sees you as a person, not a mommy, just a woman. The fact that they may see your baby as they would a cute puppy means that they probably do not want to hear about breastfeeding or diapers any more than they would discuss Fido's eating, sleeping, or pooping habits.
Crystal has been in my life since we were kids. Countless sleepovers, trips to amusement parks, and other road trips are all part of our shared history. While I went the mom-route, she stayed on the adventurous path. I may not be able to travel as extensively as she does, at least not yet, taking time to hear about life is important. It also continues to give me a glimpse of the outside world. Yes, this is important for a new mom. Talk about fashion, politics, art, music, anything but the color of junior's latest diaper.
Been there, done that friend
I will never forget the conversation I had with a nurse friend of mine when I was a brand new mommy. She was not only a nurse, she had four children. Bleary-eyed from yet another sleepless night, I asked, no, I demanded to know how she did it. Here I was not functioning with one tiny baby and she was smiling contently while handling four and a career.
She reassured me that it does get easier. She gave me permission to take naps and not try to be super mom. Her encouragement and example continues to be a beacon of hope.
This type of friend is a little further down the parenting road. She may have a toddler, teens, or be an empty-nester, but her main trait is that she remembers what it was like and is willing to comfort a fellow sojourner.
The complete opposite friend
As much as I love being understood by my "me-too" friend, known as a person by my childless friend, and supported by my "been there, done that" friend, having someone in your life that does everything you would never do is great for perspective. Granted you may not be terribly close to this person, but seeing that your choices are really not the only way to go can be refreshing.
While I spent my pregnancy studying parenting books and setting up a home office, a co-worker who was pregnant at the same time applied to upscale daycare centers. She was back to work before I was barely out of my pajamas. We may have radically different approaches, but they were right for us. There were times when I would envy her. She could escape, talk to adults, and drink hot coffee without worrying about scalding her baby. Other times I would feel smug and happy with my choices, all the while worrying about her sleep-deprived state. A friend who does everything different helps to solidify your decisions. She would never trade places with me, nor I with her but it is all good.
Sacrificial soul friend
This girl cares. She brings over dinners, will run to the store for you when you need chocolate, and calls just to see how you are doing. Friends like this can catch you off guard.
As I was recovering from outpatient surgery by spending the afternoon on the couch, the doorbell rang. After struggling to answer the door, my friend greeted me with a request. "Can I borrow a spoon?" she said. Although I wasn't feeling well, I hobbled into the kitchen to fetch a spoon for her. While in the kitchen she shouted, "On second thought, bring two spoons." When I got back, she was sitting on the porch with two yogurts. She knew I was feeling down and needed a friend, a little nutrition, and some fresh air. Afterwards she stayed to watch my son and even folded laundry while I slept.
If you have a friend like this in your life, treat her well she is invaluable. (Thanks again, Carrie.)
Moms need friends. If you are wondering where to find these gems, don't look too far. The people in your life, in your neighborhood, and in your own family could fill these roles. And in turn, you can fill one or more of these roles for someone else.
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