It has been a cold week in Philadelphia, which makes getting out of the house with an infant and toddler even more complicated than it usually is. This past weekend we managed to get all four of us out on time for a birthday party, where I had the privilege of catching up with a few other recent second-time moms. We shared our frustrations with juggling two children, the recent snow day keeping our toddlers home an extra day after holiday break, and pumping in preparation for returning to work. “I haven’t left the house since Wednesday,” one mom confided in me. It was Sunday! I would judge her except I couldn’t remember if I had left the house since Wednesday either and I wasn’t sure if it was worse to not have been outside or to have forgotten it completely.
Getting out to this birthday party was essential to all of us. We had mommy cabin fever and longed for the chance to connect with other moms. We flocked to each other at the party and put the dads in charge of managing the juice boxes and keeping curious toddler hands off the cake. Standing in a circle, we compared mom notes: what milestones our kids reached, what we pack for school lunch that our toddlers will actually eat, and to what kindergarten we plan to send our kids. It was a productive two hours for me.
Besides the managerial mom role that networking at this party provided, it also more importantly was an opportunity to make friendships. After spending the past twelve years in school and training where there were built-in peer groups, I find myself at a stage where making friends takes more effort. I have recently started reaching out to N’s friends’ parents, as it is easiest to have friends who have children. This allows us to automatically have a commonality to connect us, but also makes coordinating time together easier if our children can be present and play together. As a working mom, finding time to socialize becomes challenging due to limited free time and competing demands. Previously many of the friends I met were stay-at-home moms and I often had to miss their get-togethers and activities due to my work schedule. However, the moms I have met through N’s school are mostly working moms and this is yet another shared experience that bonds us.
As I look ahead at 2014, I look forward to continuing the mommy dialogue with friends old and new. This community of women helps give me strength, affirming the good things I am doing, challenging me to improve, and embracing my faults. With my upcoming return to work I will no longer have the luxury of avoiding the cold by hibernating at home with my baby, but I know that I will be braving the elements with some great mom friends and hopefully warming ourselves over a cup of tea.