playgroups

What isolation? 'Mom friends' a major perk of parenthood

Sep. 24, 2012 at 1:34 PM ET

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Do you have more friends now that you are a mom?

When childless friends ask me what my social life is like now that I’m a mom, I tell them it’s something like college without the beer and shots.

Just like freshman year, becoming a mother means entering unfamiliar territory and an over- eagerness to make new friends.

The long, colicky days alone with my infant daughter left me so desperate for company I joined three playgroups and took mommy-and-me classes so I wouldn’t have to be alone.

“Does a four month old really need music classes?” my husband would ask.

No, of course not. But I did.  

 One rough day, I even stopped a stranger with infant twins and asked her if she’d want to bring them over to play. Never mind that the children couldn’t even sit up. Let’s face it; the play date wasn’t for them.     

Having nothing in common with the women I met--outside of being a new mom--didn’t matter. After getting up to nurse every few hours night after night, I just needed to be around other women whose nipples hurt.

Joan Maya Mazelis, assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers University and mom to three-year-old twins, explained the need for mom friends like this: “Your worries and fears all change when you become a parent. We tend to seek out friends who are similar to us and who share our perspective on the world.”

Because of all the joining I did, I met more women during the year I stayed home with my daughter than I had during the previous decade.

My friend, Katie Dugdale O’Sullivan, a stay-at-home mom of two, agreed. “I had a million friends in college. There was a lull when I moved to New York. Then I made a million mom friends.” 

Now that my children are six and three, I feel more like an upper classman who can afford to be selective about friends. A number of the families I spend time with, I will know for the rest of my life.  

“For someone to be friends with you and your family they have to connect with you on many levels,” said Fallon Connolly, a New York City stay-at-home mom. “Back in the day, you just needed someone to drink with.”

Although there’s no long-term study to prove that our mom friends become our best friends, Mazelis thinks it makes sense. Shared motherhood allows us to talk about parenting, but it can also help us get to know each other’s values, which may speed up the friendship, she said.

“It doesn’t take long talking to another parent to learn what they think about religion, science, work-family balance, public vs. private school, and other important issues” she said.

My own mother found friends with similar values when she gave birth more than forty years ago. They are still her best friends.

“The children bring you together then you go through each stage of life with the mothers,” she said. “When you’re older and become grandmothers, you go through that together, as well.”   

Do you have more close friends now that you’re a mom?

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