In 2013, Kyle and I were still living in an Upper East Side studio apartment, a 5th floor walk up over a sushi restaurant named after a brand of family sedan, approximately the size of an upper lip mole. We furnished it with an Ikea love seat, very small bed, and two bar stools. I went to bed early every night, the apartment still reeking of food, and Kyle would sit up on the Barbie couch and very quietly sip a Bud Light and try not to disturb me with his typing.
As romantic as it was to revel in the many smells that emanated from the miniature bathroom into our shared airspace, we saved up to buy ourselves some more room. We decided on Westchester, which offered a relatively quick ride to Manhattan and plenty of adorable towns where things like $7 pickles and steaming bowls of ramen could be sourced.
Until I got pregnant, we both commuted to the city for work. On weekends, we invited our friends to visit, hosting elaborate dinner parties. We didn’t make local friends because there was really no need; we were both still connected to our city roots.
Then pregnancy, then baby, and I found myself feeling very alone in a strange town, with no one to rely on for things like holding the baby for 10 minutes so I could shower. New motherhood feels incredibly isolating even when you haven’t moved: mothers who work full time all of a sudden have maternity leave to contend with (at least, I certainly hope so). You feel every single minute of the day tick by when you’re not sleeping, and a purple raisin baby is screaming and flailing in your face, and you doubt every instinct you have. My best friend in those early days was Google, who was also a very mighty enemy, frequently sending me into a panic spiral. Also, you probably have poop on your face.
Once I got myself together a little bit (because Lucy started sleeping for more than an hour in a row) and Lu lost her veil of newborn delicacy, we ventured out into the world, desperate for some compatriots.
Here’s what we learned about making new mom friends:
1. Storytime at the library is the epicenter of friendless new mom activity.
It’s like speed dating. As soon as your baby is old enough to swim in the germ pool, go to storytime. The very first time I went, I met two other women, both first time mothers with floppy little nuggets just like Lu. As you sit in storytime, awkwardly smiling while trying to remember the words to the itsy bitsy spider, shooting laserbeams of quiet desperation through your eyeballs at other women, remember that they are also half insane right now. You already have no dignity, because you definitely reek of baby barf, so just go talk to them.
The proper method of furthering the relationship without seeming like a potential stalker is to trade email addresses. You can then list a phone number in the email, if you wish. Always sign off with your name plus your baby’s name, because otherwise you will never, ever remember. You will probably confuse all the names anyway, and call many babies by the wrong names, but no one can blame you for this: you probably also are only wearing one shoe and have a booger on your eyebrow.
2. Go to every free introductory class.
Baby classes are hilarious, and also very ridiculous. There are all kinds of weird structured activities available for kids these days, and many offer classes for small babies, too. Many of these are outrageously expensive, but most offer the first class for free. Go to all the free classes, meet moms, revel in the ridiculousness, and then never return.
Yesterday, I needed something to do. It was veterans day and the libraries were closed, so I googled around and found: a baby gym. This gym offers classes once a week to babies under 10 months old for $850 per 6 months.
Apparently 6 months of baby gym time are worth more than my car.
Anyway, we went to the free session, and oh my god. The session started with Coach Claudia talking us through “baby stretches,” where you hold your baby’s legs and gently extend their “quads” and “hamstrings.” We did baby flips which apparently did something to the vestibular something in their inner ears. I’m not sure if the pseudoscience was included or cost extra.
The highlight was the gym “free time,” where babies could explore their own routines, and by routines I mean crawling around licking stuff.
3. Reconnect with old friends who are new moms.
This one is sort of cheating, but it helps. You know all those people you lost touch with after high school? The ones who also have kids are very fun to reconnect with after you join their parental ranks. A digital support network is a big help on the days you can’t seem to leave the house, or need someone to remind you that you’re not doomed to spend an eternity in a blazing inferno of hellfire because you let the baby watch 15 minutes of Sesame Street so you could look at Instagrams and chug coffee in peace.
4. Maybe don’t wear embossed sweatpants and a leather baseball hat on your first mom meet up.
On the one hand, it’s a good gauge for who will truly understand your soul. On the other hand, it matters very little how much your new mom friends immediately understand your soul, because they will understand why your boob is hanging out of your shirt at a restaurant, or why you haven’t showered in 3 days, and that is more important.
Your new mom friends will not be your old college friends, the ones who know you inside and out, and remember staying up all night with you drinking 99 Bananas liquor and watching repeats of Friends while you eat a very large bag of bagels. While you were in a punk band, they were in a very good small town production of Fiddler on the Roof, or while you are a vegetarian, they might bake whole pig in a pit in their backyard. Maybe you’re an atheist, and they give it up to Jesus.
We can work with this. As different as everyone will be in your brand new ragtag team of sleep-deprived zombie moms, you need each other. These weirdos will become your closest allies, the ones who babysit for you at the very last minute because you desperately need help, who tell you how great you look when your eyeballs are about to fall out of your face, who don’t judge you for feeding your 8 month old nothing but white bread for lunch.
Find them. They’re out there, and they need you, too.