For the past 7 weeks, Jessica and I have been sharing beautiful essays about women’s friendship through our HerStories: Tales of Friendship series. We have been so impressed and so grateful for the incredible essays that have been shared with us, and we appreciate all the words of support and enthusiasm for this series. We are both so excited about the topic of women’s friendship, and we have some big news coming up! HerStories is going to be expanding to introduce a new project specifically related to finding support during new motherhood. We have a couple of things in the works, and we will be unveiling our new project this Wednesday- please stay tuned!
In the meantime, here is a new essay, written by me, about a recent experience connecting with another mother. The need for mothers to connect with one another is a strong one, sometimes strong enough to create a temporary bond with a complete stranger. Our upcoming project will further explore this need, as well as share some ways to find support and connection during a potentially isolating time of life- new motherhood.
I stood with my family outside the crowded Mexican restaurant, waiting for a table to open up. While my oldest daughter played Angry Birds on my iPhone, (don’t judge) my 18 month old ran up and down the sidewalk as my husband and I begrudgingly took turns playing, “I’m gonna git you!”
A family with two young children came to wait near us, and the mother and I made the standard, “How old is yours?” small talk and smiled at the toddlers’ antics. Our name was called shortly thereafter, and my family and I settled in to wolf down our dinner as fast as possible, lest the Grim Meltdown Reaper make an appearance at our table.
On our way out, we passed the family again, seated at a booth and sipping their drinks.
“You’re done already?” the mother gasped incredulously, and not without envy. “Our waitress finally took our drink order!”
“We’re really pushy about ordering,” I informed her conspiratorially. “We ordered our dinner as soon as she showed up, and the second our dinner was served we asked for the check! You never know when things are going to go horribly wrong!”
“I know,” the woman replied, gesturing at her two children who were squirming in their seats like caged animals.
“We did pretty well tonight, but it’s hard to tell if it’s going to be one of those meals where you leave with your dinner in a napkin because you don’t even have time to ask for a box!” I continued, picking up steam.
“Yes!” she exclaimed.
“You’re rushing out as fast as possible because you’re so ashamed of how much stuff you left under the table!” I added, speaking from personal experience. The mother laughed, and put her hand up to her face as though shielding herself from disapproving waitstaff. She’d been there.
“May the force be with you!” I called as we left the restaurant.
My six year old sighed with exasperation. “Why do you always make Baby Friends?” she asked impatiently.
I smiled to myself. I guess I did make “Baby Friends” a lot- waiting in line at the grocery store, chatting over the changing tables in public restrooms, dipping our ankles in the baby pool. I realized that I do tend to “make friends” with other moms whenever I can. Sometimes, that brief interaction, that instant connection over our shared motherhood and willingness not to mince words, is enough of a bond to carry me through the rest of an exhausting week. Often I feel a pang of regret that we didn’t exchange phone numbers, as I sense we would make great friends. But mostly, I recognize that my life is already too full with my current schedule and relationships, and a potential new friendship may fizzle out and become awkward. So I make peace with the fact that the passing kinship is adequate in that moment, and serves an essential purpose- helping me to feel less alone.
Motherhood can change a lot of things about our lives, including our friendships. Jessica and I are excited to explore this topic further- stay tuned for our big announcement on Wednesday!
*If you’d like to contribute an essay to HerStories, please email a 500-1000 word submission to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a 2-3 sentence bio and any photos you’d like to use.
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