When friends back home in CA view my many Facebook photos of Micah on his playdates and outings with his adorable little friends, they remark on how different it is from what they are used to. They are talking about how I made these friends “from scratch” – just by virtue of being new mamas living in the same city. I had never even met these women before having a baby. I think the common, more expected course is having long-time girlfriends and having those friendships only deepen by raising your kids together. But as a transplant in NYC from LA, I didn’t have the luxury of raising my kid with the girlfriends I had already known.
After choosing to stay at home with my kid for at least the first year (and now indefinitely?), I actively sought out other mamas as being isolated would lead to very, very bad things, especially for me, an extrovert with an acute need to externally process almost everything. At first, just being around other new mamas was enough. “You’re a new mama, I’m a new mama! You can come over. My cross streets are…” I’d meet mamas at the library, at the park and through mama meet-ups. I never had a problem striking up a conversation with strangers but it was extra easy to start talking to mamas because of our obvious commonality.
But just like it was in law school, at first, everyone is “friends” with everyone. As the weeks progress, you find out who you feel safe with, more yourself with. Coming out of law school, I ended up with many acquaintances but only a few friends. That was fine. Quality, not quantity. Actually, that was preferred. As we get older with our busy lives and responsibilities, who wants to make time for a sea of acquaintances?
I realize that for me, making friends at my age, based almost purely on my life stage, is both a necessity and a challenge. Meeting potential mama friends is the easy part. Progressing to the “next level” of enjoying each other beyond our babies playing together because they’re around the same age is trickier. Much like a dating relationship. First few dates are easy to score – but let’s see where this takes us.
I found out that I have an acute case of factoid intolerance. Perhaps due to there being SO many baby products out there, new mamas tend to talk a LOT about strollers, diapers, toys, sales, deals, sunscreen, food, and more. WITH A LOT OF DETAIL. All of which is so very helpful to know, along with baby’s feeding and sleeping habits, but if the conversation and subsequent dealings, only end up discussing more FACTS, my factoid intolerance kicks in. My lack of pokerface also kicks in and my eyes glaze over. Can we talk about something else? What makes you tick? What’s your story? What do you love and why? What do you get hurt by? What are your pet peeves? Who are your closest friends and why? WHO ARE YOU beyond this helpful fact dispenser?
This is coming from a woman who had to get tricked into starting my baby registry. My husband said that we’d only pop in to our local “Babies R Us” in Astoria, just so we can pick up some good sunscreen for my growing, pregnant body. He nearly promised because he knew that the idea of starting a registry was more than intimidating for me. Once we were in the store, he slowly guided me to the registry gun/scanner while I literally started to breathe fast towards an adult tantrum as I did NOT want to be in the vicinity of THAT many baby products and choices. I can hardly choose a cereal or toothpaste these days because there are too many choices.
The mamas I have been attracted to and have progressed a bit more with are those I have other connections with. Be it sense of humor, spirituality, natural flow to conversation, generous hearts – just folks I ENJOY. This makes sense as other stay-at-homes are like your co-workers at the office. You prefer some but not others.
So for new mamas: Don’t isolate yourself! Like one of my dearest friends said, motherhood can be a wilderness, so seek out some support. Factoid intolerance may hit when trying to make new friends, but you just remind yourself that you don’t have to progress with each mama you meet!