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.
Wednesday is my favorite day 🙂
I can’t wait for your announcement. Plus, those brief interactions are often the highlight of my week. Love it. Ok wait. That sounded really sad. Let me rephrase. Those brief interactions are so affirming and wonderful and they always hold a special part in my week.
Or something. You know what I mean.
Oh your new project sounds so exciting and seriously love this series more then you know. And yes I could so relate to the above and have done just like you on more then occasion and made “Baby Friends”, too, and never do know when a dinner out with two kids will turn to crap!!
I love this! I love those moments of empathy and connection with other moms. Your daughter is very wise! Looking forward to Wednesday!
Baby friends – too funny! My kids get exasperated sometimes when I start chatting with perfect strangers (moms) – but even that brief connection can make the day a little bit better. Great story, Stephanie. And looking forward to your announcement on Wednesday!
I love how you’re expanding your initial HerStories idea. I think that this is such a vast topic and I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to new motherhood, loneliness etc. It’s great to shed some light on this.
I can also relate to the feeling you describe here, bonding over these experiences that are so similar, regretting not deepening the connection with the other mom, at the same time recognizing you can’t really take on any more social duties… I love the clarity with which you see things.
I look forward to the big announcement!
LOVE IT!! You totally made that mom’s night by giving her the insider tips…those moments with “Baby Friends” are the best. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear the big announcement!-The Dose Girls
Mommy friends. They really are a lifeline during those moments. Love how your HerStories series is going!
I have been reading these essays since you started, and I really love them.
This one really spoke to me as I am one of those people who makes “friends” with people everywhere – in line at the grocery store, while I’m pumping gas, etc. It really does make a difference when you connect with another human being who GETS you, doesn’t it??!
Thanks so much Dani… And yes, it makes a huge difference!
It’s amazing to find the other mothers who are willing to talk to you and not just smile and walk on, if they even smile. We tend to get dragged into conversations with older people who just think our kids are adorable, which they are, but sometimes it drags a bit. My husband always reminds me that our kids make people happy, and we shouldn’t begrudge others of that.