A few months ago, I had to go to the emergency room. As with all medical crises (at least in my life), everything went down around midnight. And now that I am a mother, going to the ER is not as simple as just going to the ER. My 3 year-old was asleep upstairs. my breastfeeding baby was just five week olds. I didn’t want to wake up my sleeping child and have him (attempt to) sleep in a germ-infested ER. The baby had to go with me, but we could spare the other child. As my husband was trying to take care of me—and figure out how to handle this situation—I said (while writhing on the floor in fetal position), “Call Meg.” And bless her, within five minutes, my mom friend was at my door—with her infant—to help take care of my family.
Navigating parenthood is challenging, and in a culture where many of us are far away from our families, it’s even harder. As parents, we need a support structure to help at those critical moments—but also to help us get through the week. Meg was there for us during this emergency (I’m fine by the way), but she’s also the person who helps me survive every Wednesday.
They say it’s easier to exercise when you have a buddy. I think it’s easier to parent when you have a mom friend. Meg and I are both mothers to delightful (albeit occasionally difficult) 3 year-old boys. We also both have infant daughters. If we had sought a “co-mommy” on an internet mom-dating site, we’d be a perfect match. So on the days when our boys don’t have school, we survive the morning together. Some days, we are ambitious. Visits to the Hermitage, trips to a gymnastics center, and workshops at Home Depot are not unheard of. We even went to Target together once (That almost killed us). Other days, we meet at the public library—and look longingly at each other across the room while our boys participate in different activities. Some days, we just share a pot of coffee and let the boys terrorize each other (and our homes) while our (blessedly quiet) baby girls bounce and roll. It’s so much more than just a play-date.
There are so many benefits to having a mom friend or “co-Mommy” —
I have a friend who really gets it.
There is a lot of meaning in that statement. I have a friend. I have someone with whom I am familiar and comfortable standing near me at the library/playground/Chic-fil-A (our favorite). We may not be able to hold a complete, coherent conversation—but we both understand what it is to be sleep deprived, stressed, and un-showered. Knowing that we both recognize that we are more than just mothers bolsters us. We are individuals and wives, and sharing a cup of coffee and attempting a conversation actually gives us a chance to feel like that. And she gets it. She sees my child when he behaves well, she sees him when he and her child fight, and she knows that he has melt downs too. None of us have the perfect child, we all struggle, and we have wins and losses. We do the best we can.
I have backup.
Two kids is a game changer. One child needs to go to the bathroom, and ack! You can’t leave the other in the booth at the restaurant by themselves! But you can if you’re there with a mom friend. There are now two sets of eyes watching the kids—which is good because occasionally the girls have needs that require attending as well. And if one of us is nursing/changing a diaper or [gasp] having a private potty break, the other can rescue/help/discipline/open the applesauce/blow the nose of one (or both) of the boys.
For example: a while back, we were at Chick-fil-A, and my son had the meltdown to end all meltdowns. People stared. (Fortunately, most gave looks of sympathy.) My child was under the table, flailing on the floor, and crying because—well, I actually can’t remember why, but it was something pretty ridiculous. I was four weeks post C-section, which meant I was physically unable to do anything about it other than try to talk him down. Without hesitating, Meg picked him up, took my keys and carried him out to the car. My hero.
I do things I wouldn’t be brave enough to do alone (with two kids).
I’m a fairly outgoing individual, but new situations make me nervous. My thought process: Where exactly is it? Where do I park? Will the other moms be nice to me?? Can I manage it with the preschooler and the infant? It’s easier just to walk to the park… or go grocery shopping—that’ll take an hour. I just need to make it to naptime… But with a mom friend? I can follow her to the library’s story hour. (We can’t fit all the car seats in one vehicle), and she’ll show me where the puppet theatre is. Open gym at the gymnastics center? Let’s do it. Lunch out at a restaurant (a real one, with real menus)? Bring it on. A movie in an actual theatre? Wait—can we do that with babies?? Sure, let’s try!
My son has a trusted family-like figure.
During my medical crisis, I knew that my son would be okay if he woke up and Meg was there. Our closest relatives are eleven hours away by car. I need him to have someone familiar in his life that can be there when I can’t. My co-Mommying mom-friend is the perfect person for this. Plus, I need a name and phone number to put on the school forms, right?