It really does take a village to raise a child. New moms need all the help they can get; for the benefit of their child, not to mention their own wellbeing. When you're in the "new mommy trenches," I truly believe that's when you need your pals the most. These special folks will become central figures in your life and the life of your child. That's why I've compiled a list of the friends every new mom needs in her corner.
My mom has often told me that I can't expect my partner to fulfill all of my emotional needs. Trying to is an exercise in futility that ultimately drains the relationship. Throughout my life, I've cultivated loyal, loving friendships in school, dance class, and the military spouse network. Many of my friends have been with me through a broken engagement, a battle with depression, and heartbreak. Of course, we've also shared in joyous occasions, like weddings, births, and years of get-togethers.
As a new mother, I had six non-(strictly)family well-wishers come see us in the hospital, and a host of visitors bearing casseroles, flowers, and gifts in the weeks that followed. Unfortunately, my husband's job took us away from home, and before I knew it I was a new mom in a new state. Still, I made the best of it. I maintained contact with friends from home, relished my Army family of multiple couples who have moved with us, and made new friends through a mom group. I'm confident that my daughter and I are both better people for the friends in our lives; friends like the following:
The "Mom In The Same Boat" Friend
Every time I see a mom with a screaming toddler in Target, I just want to throw up the solidarity sign a la Katniss Everdeen. Really, a mom in the same boat as you is the only one who can truly understand you. She's just as tired as you are, and when you regale her with details of Poopsplosion 2015, she'll make you feel better by telling you about the time she left the house with poo on her face.
Shortly after our move, I befriended three moms of girls within a month of my daughter's age who became our squad. We traded breastfeeding war stories (pumping through the night, people), commiserated about sleep regression, hiked the canyon wearing our babies, drank Bailey's at our Christmas play date, and had endless fun at the park. When we moved again, these special ladies took me out for an out of control night on the town. (I may or may not have gotten a tattoo.) They helped me get through those tough first several months, and I miss them dearly.
The "Experienced Mom" Friend
When I left the hospital, I soon realized that I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. There are a million things you're worried about. Why is this poop black? Is the swaddle too tight? How do I treat cracked nipples? WTF is in my baby's bellybutton? What if it falls out and my dog eats it?
Veteran Mom to the freakin' rescue. You can put any of the above in a text message, and she'll get right back to you with some sage advice. I had a friend who, even though she was also caring for a baby (her second), told me to call any time if I needed help with breastfeeding.
The "Call In An Emergency" Friend
There are certain friends you call when your husband tears his Achilles playing flag football because he thinks he's a damn spring chicken. It's not every person who will care for your newborn so you can drop your spouse off at the hospital for surgery. So find those people, and keep them close.
One terrible morning, I was comforting my sick cat when she died in my arms. My husband was on his way to work, so I called my Army family friend from down the street. She clocked in late to work so she could come watch the baby while I went to the vet. When I came home, she sat with me while I cried, laughed, and remembered my beloved pet.
Were something to happen to my husband or me, I have a long list of people who would love my baby like their own. That's lucky indeed.
The "Coffee/Wine/Food-Bearing" Friend
For new moms, getting out of the house can be a real pain. You have to get your lumpy little bundle into that car seat and don't forget diapers, wipes, nursing cover, blanket, hat, mittens, pacifier, or anything else your precious babe could possibly need. That's why you need the "home delivery" friend. Whatever your pleasure (mocha? cabernet? tacos?), she'll bring it and stay for a visit. My favorite delivery? Grande extra hot no water I'm a diva chai tea latte.
The "Phone Call Away" Friend
Many of my nearest and dearest friends live in my home state. There are a few special ladies who my mom refers to as the "Holy Trinity." They may be hundreds of miles away, but they are as close as a phone call or text.
I called one of them near tears because of my baby's night wakings, and she referred me to a website that saved my life and reminded me that "this too shall pass." Another friend and I have a long-distance book club going. It helps keep me accountable for reading, which is an essential component of my mommy self-care.
The "Local" Friend
New moms desperately need friends who are close by, too. Unfortunately you can't babysit via FaceTime. I've been so grateful for my local buddies who have stepped in to watch my daughter so I can take a work call, get a pedicure, or celebrate my anniversary.
My husband is currently deployed, and I've been in desperate need of a dental cleaning and haircut. Not only did a friend come and watch my little girl, she showed up with coffee for me and steamed milk for the wee one. I figure I must have done something really good in a previous life to deserve her.
The "I Absolutely Adore Your Child" Friend
When your child is being especially rotten, it's nice to know there are some people (besides you) who will love them unconditionally and think they can do no wrong.
My Army family is that way. My sweet girl is especially attached to her Tia and Uncle Tiger Daddy (you know, like a tiger mom, but a dude and an uncle). When they come to the door, she squeals in delight and reaches her arms to be picked up. Tia is my dutiful deployment wife and has never missed an important event (baptism, pumpkin patch visit, holiday program, you name it) or failed to beautifully document it.
The "I Just Met You" Friend
There's a running joke in military families about meeting a new friend and immediately having to ask them to be an emergency contact on school forms. We constantly find ourselves in the position of having to make new friends. Likewise, as a new mom, you have the opportunity to meet lots of people if you're willing to put yourself out there.
You never know. The mom you just met at swimming lessons might prepare you a dinner so you don't have to cook when you come back from a trip (for real). The friend of a friend could end up being your mommy bestie if you give that relationship a chance.
The "Single, Child-Free" Friend
It's so easy to get caught up in new motherhood. That's why you need some single ladies in your corner. They will remind you that the world doesn't actually revolve around your baby (although your personal world might, and for the foreseeable future). They'll keep you hooked in to what's happening outside your cocoon and help you get back out there.
One of my former students recently graduated from a university close to where we're currently posted. I love her youthful energy and all the places she's introduced me to in the city. She took us to a Vietnamese restaurant where my daughter had a peanut butter, Nutella, and banana bahn mi. Yes, please.
The "Sister/Sister-In-Law" Friend
Sometimes I feel like my sister is the very force that tethers me to this earth. She's known me my whole life and we've often been mistaken for twins, so our relationship is symbiotic. She even refers to my child as her "daughter-niece."
My sisters-in-law have also been supportive of me as a new mom and absolutely dote on their niecey-girl. My own niece's mom and I were due on the same day, so even though her little girl ended up being a week older, we've been able to share developmental milestones.
However, you don't even have to be related or have a "sister" title to really be a sister. When you have these types of friends in your life as a newly-minted mother, you have your divine sisterhood.