Strength in Numbers
Throughout college a majority of my time was spent hanging out with persons of the opposite sex. This was not because I was flirty or tomboyish, or even because I had no girlfriends. It just simply worked out that most of the girls I was close to chose to attend other schools and I was comfortable with my old friends. And the “old friends” that were left were male.
I think this may have worried my landlady a bit during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. I didn’t think about it at first, but it dawned on me after a few months of renting an upstairs pair of rooms from her that from her perspective, things looked rather odd: I’d come in with two to three male friends, laughing and talking, we’d go upstairs for a few hours, then they’d leave. Occasionally we’d order pizza. Really, we’d watch movies, play games, and generally just relax. At the time I was the one in our circle with the best place to do that with a co-ed group. So really, it was nice of the boys to come over all the time, because otherwise I couldn’t have hung out with them.
At any rate, the truth remains that during college I didn’t do a whole lot of hanging out with women. Until senior year. That’s when one of my best friends moved up from California with her fiance and we all (with two other friends of ours) lived in a house together – girls on the main floor, boys downstairs.
In the year following college, the girlfriends I’d made in school started moving away. So once again I was left without girls to hang out with. I started missing the chance to have some “estrogen time” and was really feeling the effect of missing my girlfriends.
Then I got pregnant. Suddenly pregnant women my age were popping out of the woodwork. And throughout the duration of my pregnancy I continued to meet new moms. It was great! By the time Little Miss was born, and in the month or two following, my circle of local girlfriends grew from two to about 8 or 10. Awesome.
It gets better.
Not only did I now know several women who were at a similar point in their lives, but I suddenly had a HUGE network of information available to me. I knew one mom with a 1 1/2 year old boy; another with an 8-month-old; still another with a girl about a month ahead of Little Miss, and 3 with baby girls born within weeks of mine.
Before the babies were born, we got together and went through bins of hand-me-down clothes together. We talked about what we were going to do to our nurseries. We discussed our fears about labour and delivery and bringing home a tiny bundle that was completely our responsibility. And we laughed about the cravings we’d had and the demands we’d made of our husbands over the last few months.
After the babies were born, we got together for mommy/baby coffee dates (aka baby show-off dates), passed along stories about feedings, diaper changes, frustrations, and funny and/or naive things we’d done as newbie mommies. We added each other as friends on Facebook and created a support group for safe and non-judgmental discussions and advice forums. Since we are all at various stages of the “new mom” thing, with our own unique and personalized parenting techniques, we all had something special and helpful to bring to the table.
My network is even greater online. More than a dozen women I knew were pregnant the same year I was, and a dozen more are currently pregnant.
This resource has been invaluable to me. I am incredibly blessed to have met each of these women, and am even more blessed that they are willing to answer my questions, offer advice (only when asked!) and consider me a helpful resource for them, as well.
The only thing I can do to repay these wonderful women is to pay it forward: When someone who is greener at this whole “mom” thing than I am, I do my best to answer any questions they have, offer advice when they ask, and share my experiences when they are looking for alternatives and ideas. The confidence I have as a new mom has shot through the roof at times simply because these women encouraged me and helped me understand that I AM a good mother. I couldn’t do this without them.