As a new first-time mom, I found myself doing everything for my son. It just happened, and I did not even notice at first that I lost myself. I was so wrapped up in putting my son first and making sure his needs were met that even when close family and friends would tell me I should take some ME time, I dismissed it. I was doing what I had to do: diapering, feeding, pumping, folding clothes and blankets, keeping stock of diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, sanitizing… all that and a million other things that you do when you have a new baby. The months began to fly by and soon I took a look in the mirror and it hit me: where was I? Somewhere deep inside the yoga pants and spit up-stained t-shirt was a 30-something-year-old woman hiding behind dirty hair and purple baggy eyes. I was in there…somewhere.
Maybe because I was doing it all myself – with the help of my family, since my son’s father and I had separated when he was only 2 weeks old – I hardly ever did anything for me. Don’t get me wrong: I went to lunch with my girlfriend once and even a daytime concert once, plus the occasional solo run to Target or the grocery store while my mom watched my son. I thought that was enough ME time until I began going on playdates.
It started with one neighborhood mom and quickly grew to a handful of mom friends in a few different circles throughout the city. Even at the first few meetings, I noticed that we all needed to open up to each other about our lives. Who else would appreciate the story about how I cried when my son and I almost missed our first playdate due to a nap battle because I knew how badly I needed to interact with other mommies? They all nodded and began to share how they too have cried for similar (laughable now) reasons. They all expressed feeling a little lost at one point or another, even lonely! Could it be true? I am not alone in these feelings! It was a major LIGHTBULB MOMENT!
I did not know these women prior to being a mom, yet they were so ready to open up to me and vise versa. There is something to be said about friending women who are raising children around the same ages as your own. In the beginning it feels a little like dating, and you might hesitate to unload your personal life to complete strangers. But, with each playdate, I learned more and more from sharing with them and listening to them share with me. I cannot believe it took me so long to find these women!
We talk about everything baby-related, ask each other questions, share our fears, issues with partners and grandparents – you name it and we talk about it. Even those moments that no one likes to talk about, like how you secretly at times wish you were out at a bar for happy hour instead of cleaning diarrhea off your child’s body and clothing…and of course it ends up in your hair (this has happened to you, right?). Talking with them on these playdates is like a free therapy session that sometimes includes wine.
Trust me, you need to get out of your comfort zone and find some new mommy friends in your neighborhood, town or city. I promise that it will make you a better mom. You will feel so relieved knowing that you are not alone, and as an added benefit your child will make new friends too.