The Power of Mom Friends

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Jumping sunset poses not necessary, but highly encouraged.

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Being a mom is a heavy task, and when you step back and really think about the daunting responsibility you have of not messing someone up entirely, it’s enough to send you straight to your wine shelf. Really, you–yeah, yeah, and your partner and community–are responsible for the outcome of a human being. Think about it: the power to turn your child into a total dick is right at your fingertips.

Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but all that considered, it’s no wonder even the calmest of moms is occasionally riddled with anxiety and guilt. For the number of Super Bowl champs who say they first and foremost need to thank their mothers, there are even more sociopaths who blame theirs for their problems. I’m not saying my son will turn out like Norman Bates or anything–my God, I would not look good stuffed–but the possibilities of his future personality are endless.

It’s times like this, when I find myself going down an irrational rabbit hole, that I am particularly thankful for my mom friends. You know the ones I’m talking about: the friends who justify your neuroses, pull your head out of your ass, and bring some friggin’ levity back into your life.

I hate to categorize friends in this way, sticking them in the oft-dreaded ‘mom’ bucket, but I’ve found that there’s really no better term for the kind of person I mean. Simply put, a real mom friend is not just a fellow mom you call to schedule play dates; a real mom friend is someone with whom you can commiserate and share your greatest parenting fears and victories. Non-mom friends can certainly lend a sympathetic ear, but I’ve yet to meet a non-mom friend who can comfortably discuss baby poop, much less casually over lunch.

What does it mean to be a mom friend? Let me count the ways.

A mom friend will…

  1. Convince you that your baby won’t develop body dysmorphia because you think it’s fun to use Snapchat filters on him.
  2. Never ask you to do jumping jacks because she knows that no amount of kegels will prevent you from peeing yourself a little (or a lot).
  3. Drink a glass of wine in solidarity after you text her the word “poo-pocalypse.”
  4. Encourage you to keep watching HBO in front of your baby because it’s highly unlikely he understands the concepts of sex or violence yet. And that Jane the Virgin is actually educational what with the exposure to Spanish and all.
  5. Concur that it’s totally normal to shower every two days and wear yoga pants exclusively.
  6. Hear you utter the words “I’ve got a sausage in my pocket” and appreciate that you brought a snack instead of judging you for your sexual euphemisms.
  7. Agree that it’s prudent and not at all absurd to have a zombie apocalypse plan.
  8. Talk with you for 45 minutes about your nipples without batting an eyelash.
  9. Be so well-acquainted with your labor and delivery story that she probably knows your vagina more intimately than most of your sexual partners combined.
  10. Assure you that the dirt your baby just fisted into his mouth is an efficient and all-natural alternative to a probiotic and a multi-vitamin.
  11. Offer to watch your baby when you feel the need to be literally anywhere but with said baby.
  12. Remind you that there’s really no such thing as an “overachieving” baby and that they all develop at different paces.
  13. Help you weigh the pros and cons of going back to work and support your decision no matter the path you choose.
  14. Have a meaningful conversation with you about politics, religion, and the scary world we live in because she respects you and reserves judgment even when she has different opinions.
  15. Open up to you as much as you open up to her.

Most importantly, a mom friend will lament with you, listen to you, or give you a hug when you’re feeling sad, guilty, happy, or all three (read: postpartum hormones). A lot like a spouse, I suppose, a mom friend will love and support you in the good times and the bad.

So let’s all rejoice in our mom friendships! Being there for your fellow mom during what can sometimes be a serious and isolating experience is something to be celebrated and cherished. And, really, who can better understand how hilarious it is to watch your baby get stuck in a hamper?

 

Motherhood: A Land of Irrationality

Motherhood opens your mind to its own dark recesses, ones you never knew were there. Even within the first few minutes of having Baby Brown Bear, I started worrying. I worried that he was cold, that he wouldn’t be able to do the baby-led crawl to the breast, that he was pooping too much on me (the latter to which the answer is probably always a yes).

I used to think my grandma worried too much when she told me to be careful about the most ridiculous things. “Be careful when opening your plastic Easter eggs because they could slice your fingers!” Um, okay.

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The sharp edges of a plastic Easter egg.

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I also saw how much my mom worried, especially once I moved away from home. Granted, it was probably smart of her to be worried about my 18-year-old idiotic self. Still, it never seemed to end. And hasn’t to this day. “Yes, Mom, there are other people riding the ‘L’ with me at 4:00 p.m.”

Then I became a mother and I suddenly understood.

Even though my baby is not even a year old, I can only imagine how nervous I’ll be when he starts to become more independent. Driving? By HIMSELF?! Forget it.

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Is this what it feels like for parents when their kids start to drive?

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While my imagination has always been colorful, the most irrational fear I had before baby was one of snakes. Motherhood, on the other hand, has brought to light a whole host of things I never realized I needed to worry about. Though, to be fair, the thought of snakes anywhere near Baby Brown Bear is especially horrifying.

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Yes, I can only tolerate a cartoon snake because even pictures of real ones scare me.

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In the last eight months, at least three scary scenarios have popped into my head each day regarding the safety of my baby and/or me. While I think it’s important to be aware of our surroundings and mindful of the people nearest us, I do have the tendency to take things a little far and worry about the unlikeliest of issues.

On the more realistic end of what I’m talking about, I recall that on our first stroller walk after Baby Brown Bear was born, I yelled at Papa Bear to push the stroller with two hands. “You drive a car with two hands. Why on Earth wouldn’t you drive our baby’s stroller with two hands?” In my mind, the tire would hit a sidewalk crack at an angle, jolt uncontrollably, and roll into oncoming street traffic. Even though there are about six feet of grass between the sidewalk and the street.

But that’s pretty tame compared to what I really mean.

Top Three Irrational Fears Thus Far, or, Why My Brain Needs a Chill Pill

From what I can remember (and there’s a lot of baby-induced memory loss going on here), below are probably the top three most irrational, improbable situations I’ve envisioned since Baby Bear was born.

3. Strangers throwing acid on my baby.

I remember this one clearly. Baby Bear and I were walking with the stroller when he was about two months old. At the time, he was still in his car seat attachment, so he was facing me. As we walked past a laundromat, I saw two people on the sidewalk in front of us with their backs turned. Before I knew it, I pictured these people waiting until we walked by, then lunging forward and heaving hydrochloric acid into the stroller. Of course, I then tried to figure out how I would intercept the throw and block the acid with my own skin. Then this led me to think about how this would likely incapacitate me for long enough for the acid throwers to steal the baby. Would I be able to crawl and tackle them? Call 911? Would anyone on the street help me or would it be a Kitty Genovese situation? Dammit, I’ve always hated doing laundry and this is probably why.

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Getting stuck inside a washer is the least of my concerns.

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2. A ghost haunting Baby Bear’s bedroom at night.

Luckily for us, Baby Brown Bear is a pretty amazing sleeper (knock on wood this continues). His naps can be hit or miss, but his nighttime sleep is one for the books. That’s why, on the rare occasions when he wakes up screaming, I naturally wonder if he’s not being haunted by a malevolent ghost. What else would cause him to go from zero to 60 in the course of 10 seconds?

As soon as this thought initially occurred to me, I had to wake up my husband because I could be thinking it alone in the dark. Then I felt bad that I didn’t rush into the baby’s room because, if he really were being haunted by a ghost, shouldn’t I be the one to save him and send it away? In the time it took me to think through all these things, he stopped screaming. It must have been a friendly ghost who just scared him by showing up unexpectedly, I guess. Carry on, affable spirit.

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This confession bear is, sadly, my own. I suppose I’m prone to middle-of-the-night irrationality. More on The Shining later.

[Source: My own pitiful, adult self]

1. A zombie apocalypse occurring while we are away from home. 

As Baby Bear and I were packing to leave for a trip to Denver without Papa Bear, I was suddenly seized with fear. What if, while we were gone, the zombie apocalypse broke out? I’ve already read too much about zombies thought about this kind of situation before, but not since I had the baby. Obviously there were several things to consider: 1. How would I communicate with my husband and family when the world’s communications systems stopped working?; 2. Would I be able to keep my six-month-old quiet or would he immediately attract all the zombies around us with his cries and babble?; 3. Would my husband be able to escape Chicago or would the city be too overrun when he realized he needed to leave? Assuming he wouldn’t be a sure goner, I had to plan. (Note: I never once doubted my own survival skills. This girl is prepared.)

Since the zombies in my mind are of the Max Brooks variety (i.e., sluggish and slowed down by cold), I threw together a rough strategy. Given that I had only one night before we left, it would have to suffice. When my husband came home that evening, I told him our plan: we’d reconvene in the countryside outside of Winnipeg since it was far enough north that the zombies would freeze in the winter and was situated roughly half way between Denver and Chicago. To which he responded, “Wait, what plan is this?”

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Lord, please let George R. R. Martin be wrong. My snow plans would be f***ed.

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I’d like to say that over time these bizarre thoughts will fade, but if I’m honest with myself, I know better. In fact, I’m sure they’ll just become even stranger and more irrational.

But you know what? If they help me over prepare, I’m all for it. After all, I’m signed up for the long haul no matter what.

What are some of your strangest and most irrational fears?