If I could give one piece of advice to a new mom, it would not be about breastfeeding, formula, sleep solutions, parenting styles, vaccines, etc. My advice, befriend as many mothers as you can. I am not saying grab a friend as arm candy, rather, invest in relationships with a diverse group of individuals who happen to also be mothers. Do not be judgmental, fake, or pretentious, rather be open-minded, genuine, and welcome the relationship you might have otherwise passed up. Having a mother-lode of friends offers collectible resources, which you need in this journey of parenthood to keep you mentally sound.
New baby, new house, no family or friends in town, being more of an introvert than an extrovert, I felt doomed I would end up friendless. However, I grew as a mother and matured as an individual. With this growth came confidence. Slowly and steadily I developed various relationships with fellow new mothers. As the years passed some relationships faded, some grew, and some have gone no further than a smile in the preschool parking lot. I cherish the variety of relationships I have stumbled upon and continue to encounter as I grow into this motherhood gig.
When you have a variety of mothers in your life, you realize your life is “normal.” To hear a follow mom friend say, “I love my kid, but damn they are acting like a (insert your own explicit) and bring out the worst mothering in me,” creates a sense of relief. You take comfort in knowing you are not the only one battling a strong-willed five-year-old who is making you feel like the shittiest mother on earth. You listen as fellow mom friends tell stories of how their children will only eat foods that are the color orange, or a chicken nugget in the shape of a dinosaur, and you take a mental note not to give your kids hell about not eating the crust on a sandwich. Talking with other mothers, you realize it is normal for a three-year-old to refuse to poop in the toilet. You just keep buying new underwear for your preschooler and take comfort in knowing he will be fully potty trained someday, right? You share epic tantrum stories of your toddler biting you in the arm or your preschooler hitting you in the face, you laugh together, after the fact. Laughter is the best medicine, right? Laughing together you realize how "normal" your motherhood journey is.
Having a variety of mothers in your life builds a community. Together you listen to concerns of childhood disability, school drama, and social issues. You sympathize, support, and count your blessings. During countless conversations with fellow married mom friends, you realize your husband is normal and not lazy. Apparently, most husbands put clothes next to the hamper instead of in it, are incapable of cleaning bathrooms or washing laundry, and require just as much positive attention as a child. Oh let’s not forget their ability to sleep through a crying baby, sick toddler, or child screaming from a nightmare. Can I be a dad?
The camaraderie between mothers will help you navigate through all the other issues you encounter in motherhood, in a way like none other. After a hellish day, you can meet up with a group of mom friends and two hours later walk into your home feeling focused, mentally re-energized, ready to tackle tired children, and mundane household chores. Befriend a mother, for she will be the best resource you will have in this journey we call motherhood.