I’ll never forget one of my first anxious moments in public as a new mom. I was sitting in a new mommy-and-me class waiting for the teacher to wake us all up with her guitar and rousing welcome song, when I noticed my five-month-old daughter's diaper had sprung a leak.
The mom seated to my right, with a baby and toddler in tow, saw the look on my face and the wet onesie and quickly pulled a Pampers Swaddlers from her bag, handing it to me with a wink. “These are the best!" she exclaimed. Not only was she right about the diapers, but little did I know, her gesture would be the key to me eventually meeting my future best friend.
By now, a lot of us may know that making friends when you’re an adult is hard, and that making friends when you're a new mom can feel downright impossible. At least, that's how I felt right after the birth of my first child. When my daughter was born, none of my close friends had kids. Add in the fact that I left behind my close-knit group of co-workers when I decided to stay home with my baby, and it's easy to understand how I suddenly found myself feeling very alone.
As often as possible, I would take my daughter out into the world for park excursions, library story time, and mommy-and-me classes like that fateful music class. Just as often, I would meet fellow new moms and immediately trot out my new favorite ice-breaker, passing along the sage advice to switch to Pampers Swaddlers. I learned that a trusty product recommendation — especially for diapers — never failed to get the conversation going, and my tried-and-true conversation starter helped me make a few new mom acquaintances that I would gab with after classes or while pushing our babies on the swings. But even then, it was difficult to move beyond the standard chit chat about lost sleep, teething troubles and, of course, diapers.
I wanted to make a real connection, but the idea of opening up to this new group of peers was challenging. In those fleeting moments of after-class small talk, I felt like everyone around me had it all figured out and that I might be judged for my personal parenting choices — making the idea of building a genuine, lasting friendship with any of these women hard to imagine.
I wanted to make a real connection, but the idea of opening up to this new group of peers was challenging.
Then one day at my local library's story time, I noticed a mom listening to the children’s librarian as intently as I was. In fact, I remembered seeing her there once before — I'd made a mental note that I loved her taste in clothes — and we smiled politely at each other when we made eye contact from opposite ends of the sea of toddlers. Within a few minutes, story time ended and the crowd dispersed as normal, but that moment will always stand out in my mind because it's one of my earliest memories with my future best friend, Amanda.
Weeks continued to tick by and I spent my days with my daughter making small talk with moms at the park, but while I was definitely expanding my network of mom acquaintances (and my daughter's network of playmates), I still hadn't found that one great friend I'd been hoping for. Then finally, while casually mingling between the fruit platter and the cracker bowl at a kid's birthday party, I ran into Amanda for the first time since our quick encounter at library story time.
We instantly recognized each other and the typical mom chat ensued, but it didn’t take long before I started to feel a shift in the conversation. I didn't even need my trusty ice breaker and I immediately felt myself opening up to her in a way that I hadn’t with any other mom I'd met since my daughter was born.
Instead of lingering on conversations about diapers and sleeping, Amanda and I talked about how overwhelming being a mom could be, and how other moms we knew were already contemplating their second baby while we were on the fence. It was the first honest, real conversation I had in a long time, and I loved it.
As the party started to wrap up, Amanda and I made plans to meet up at the park with our kids the following week, and the lead-up to my very first mom date felt just as nerve-wracking as a real date. I ransacked my closet for the perfect outfit, wishing I had time to shop for a new wardrobe that didn’t include spit-up stains. I finally settled on a casual-cool vibe with jeans and my favorite band t-shirt. Luckily, my plan worked; my shirt was one of the first things she remarked on.
Right away, Amanda and I bonded over our favorite music and movies, and although it felt so refreshing to realize how much we had in common, I still felt a pang of worry every time a lull in the conversation hit. Did I say something embarrassing? Was there broccoli in my teeth from lunch? As our little ones grew cranky around nap time, we left the park in a rush with just a vague mention of meeting up again.
Back at home, my giddiness over making my first bona fide mom friend subsided as anxiety set in. I played our conversation over in my head the same way you would after any other hopeful first date, wondering if I’d said anything annoying or done something awkward. Hoping to get a definitive answer, I whipped out my phone to send off a quick, hopefully lighthearted text.
“Hey, I had fun today! Let’s get together again soon!” I wrote, and the thoughts continued. Did I text too soon? Did I use too many exclamation points? I should have added an emoji.
And just before I let myself fully spiral down the post-first-date rabbit hole, her response came. “Me too!! Same park next week?” I felt the rush of relief and that same giddiness returning, and I proudly noted her extra exclamation point. “Sounds great!!” I replied. And that, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Through countless park playdates, story times, text messages with way too many exclamation points, birthday parties, and second babies, our friendship has grown. We’ve lifted each other up when we’re down, shared parenting tips, swapped baby clothes, and watched our kids grow up together all thanks to that first mom date.
It can feel overwhelming trying to make friends when you’re a new mom. You already feel vulnerable and as if the whole world is judging you, which makes it even harder to really open up and be yourself. Knowing how I felt when I was in those first scary weeks of motherhood, my advice to new moms looking for friendship is to not be afraid to put yourself out there. Much like real dating, not all moms that you meet will be a perfect match — and sometimes you might even face some awkward moments — but when you find that friend that you know will still be there long after the playdate days are over and your kids have grown up, it’s all worth it.
This post is sponsored by Pampers Swaddlers.