Back in March much of quarantine life reminded me of my maternity leave: the strange sense of disconnection from the outside world and the need to prioritize my own family above all else; the inability to partake in all the other joys of city life other than frequent walks in the park. Most of all, I returned to relying on group texts with my mom friends, who were, I felt, the only people who understood what I was going through.
Tucked in a drawer somewhere, I still have the old phone I was using seven years ago when my son was born. I kept it mostly because it’s where I saved the group texts between me and three other women who met at meet-up for expecting moms in our neighborhood a month before we were due. We were four overwhelmed strangers feeling awkward in a room full of bubbly, chatty types, but we turned to each other in that little corner and connected instantly. The text exchanges started when we were still pregnant and setting up another time for us to meet with our spouses in tow. They continued as one by one, we each gave birth, then each gradually emerged from the fog to meet up again. We asked each other all the questions — “Is your baby…?” “Are your breasts…?” “Did your husband…?” “Is anyone else…?” We have so many threads where we were supposed to meet at the park and one of us suddenly had to turn back for a nap or a diaper blowout. We have threads after we returned to work and had to lock ourselves in a bathroom to sob. We have the threads when second and third children came along.
The texts got less frequent as our kids got older, and one by one, everyone left my Brooklyn neighborhood for life in the suburbs. Now, our kids barely remember each other, but we have kept checking in every once in a while, sending first-day-of-school and birthday pics, writing cathartic rants about work-life chaos. But when the pandemic hit, we were back at it. “What are we going to do?” “How is anyone expected to home school like this?” “What will we do when we’re laid off?” As life was turning upside down, this felt like a return to something comfortable.
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I can’t speak for the Lorax or the trees but between baby shark and non traditional math I stand and speak to all of the parents who are dealing with #homeschool2020🤣 may your wine glass stay full and your kids laptops, kindles be charged! We are in this together! Now stay home so these kids can get back to school! Shirt by @shoppressedup orders your now! Trust me you need it! #socialdistancing2020 #homeschoolcovid19style
At the same time my college friends, also almost all moms, were blowing up my phone, too. We shared links of resources, recommendations for TV shows, and lots of commiseration. We sent each other info on Black Lives Matter marches and encouraged each other to donate to bail funds.
In real life, too, I found mom-friend support as we began running into neighbors with kids at the park. We stood 6 feet apart, watching our kids ride their bikes in circles around each other, and felt for a few moments that the world was OK. We drank cocktails on the stoops of our buildings and decided it was better than going to a PTA meeting, but not as good as, you know, a real bar.
I am all too aware that there are people suffering in this world right now, from COVID-19, from economic disaster, from decades of racial oppression. I don’t need to burden anyone with my relatively petty troubles of not being able to focus on work while also conducting a large-scale war over a first-grade creative-writing assignment. That is what we have friends for. We need to have space where we can share our troubles, major and minor. We need people who will listen to us without judgment. OK, maybe with a little judgment — our friends can give us enough so that we can be shaped by more thoughts than the ones in our isolated brains.
As a total introvert, I’m not always aware of how much I need my friends, and I often forget to lean on them. I’m an unreliable narrator on this front. That’s why to make my point, I reached out to some bloggers to tell me what having mom friends has meant to them during the last four months. Here are some of their beautiful responses:
“One of my mom friends called me just to see how I was surviving. I was able to have a purely good cry. We both needed that moment to reassure ourselves that all of our wine moments weren’t in vain. We had to let each other know that we were badasses in our own right and that we could keep our babies (kids) safe!” — Latoi Storr, ToiTime.org
“Finding out that there are other moms out there who are experiencing the same as you is comforting in a way. Having said group of moms text you memes and inspirational quotes to cheer you up daily is priceless. We are together in this, and sometimes a simple word of encouragement goes a long way.” — Mia, ReadExploreRepeat.com
“I have a group of three other mom friends who met when our now second-graders were in kindergarten, and they have all been a big help for my mental state during all this crazy pandemic time! My husband affectionately named us ‘Mom Squad,’ a phrase we now use, and I even branded on matching slim can drink cozies. We are not party moms, by any means, but having a socially distant White Claw drink together in someone’s driveway is our only ‘going out’ these days.” — Tara Nehil, spotofteadesigns.com
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Throwing it back to the neighborhood block party I styled one summer for absolutely no one! (where my party stylists at! 😂) . This fruit garland is still one of my favorite paper plate creations made with the help of my @officialcricut! . . . . . #spotofteadesigns #blockparty #neighborhood #stayhome #sotdlovespaperplates #paperplate #lightbox #partystylist #partyideas #desserttable #partydecor #partyblogger #craftyblogger #instaparty #partyideasgroup #catchmyparty #Cricutmade #cricutcreated #featuremyparty#cricutcrafts #makersgonnamake #calledtobecreative #creativelifehappylife #cricutcreated #handmademovement #cricutlife #cricutmademedoit #cricutlove #craftersgonnacraft #karaspartyideas #creativelifehappylife #calledtobecreative #prettymyparty #makersgonnamake https://spotofteadesigns.com/10-paper-plate-party-decor-ideas/
“With baby number three on the way, running a full-time design-and-build interior residential remodeling company and DIY home improvement blog, managing a team, and having two littles at home, mom friends have been the only things that have kept me moving forward. They have noticed without me crying for help when things are slipping and they call to not be a shoulder to cry on, but to say, ‘This is what we’re going to do, and this is how I’m going to help.’ Strategizing, stepping in, and helping me push forward and continue to be successful without letting any of the balls drop.” — Morgan Molitor, Construction2style.com
“While all my mom friends have made it better, there are two that stand out the most. The first was virtually meeting another mom whose family story is so much like mine. It was amazing to just chat and relate to another mom of four, whose three youngest have autism just like my three youngest. Having someone else in the world that is going through the same journey to talk to gave me more energy to keep pushing through. The second was a mom who I met through Instagram that stayed up all night talking with me when my daughter had a severe anaphylactic reaction that put her in the PICU. It was both isolating and terrifying being at a hospital, especially during COVID. We couldn’t have visitors and my husband had to be home with the other three children. Having someone to talk to that understood the scariness of the hospital, allergic reactions, and special needs are what got me through.” — Alicia Trautwein, TheMomKind.com
“My group of mom girlfriends had a standing Google Meets happy hour at 5 pm every single night. … Sometimes they went on for two hours, and I could talk and cry with my friends. Then when I came back to town and the weather got nicer we started doing nightly social-distancing wine/skateboarding (for the kids) and basically formed our own pod. We only hung out with each other and eventually the masks came off. We still aren’t hugging but we are together all the time and have grown even closer during this time. They are now my best friends, and our kids have even become very close as a result. I don’t know if I would have been able to get through this time without them. I have new found love and appreciation for my mom friends. It is the one positive of the pandemic.” — Lauren Dimet Waters, Fountainof30.com
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Yesterday was tough. Matthew and I officially cancelled the “party” part of our wedding next month. After waiting for such a long time to tie the knot, being physically surrounded in person by the people we love was such an important part of our wedding day, and we are feeling some big emotions over not having that. Yesterday was also when I was supposed to have my bachelorette bash with my girls, and let me tell you: even though we couldn’t be together in person, my people SHOWED UP in such a huge way to make it happen virtually. From breaking into our house while we were out to decorate (after spraying themselves down with Lysol haha), to dropping off surprises (while maintaining a safe distance) to flooding our mailbox with packages all week, these amazing gals made me feel so loved ❤️ We dressed up, grabbed drinks and had a hilarious @zoom_video_communications call filled with so much laughter and fun. I’m so lucky to call these women my friends. While they may not be able to be there on our big day, what I do know is that our crew will have the BEST time celebrating in person when we can! #coronabride #coronabrides #coronawedding #coronaweddings #coronacouples #quarantinelife #loveinatimeofcoronavirus
” The last four months have made me even more grateful for our friendship. My husband and I had delayed our wedding after getting pregnant with our miracle baby, planning instead to get married this May in the big wedding of our dreams… but then COVID hit. When we decided to elope in our backyard, my girls knew how hard of a decision that was. They refused to let it rain on our big day, and organized the most incredible drive by wedding reception!” — Siobhán Alvarez, MimosasandMotherhood.com
“I have gotten back to good old-fashioned phone calls. I don’t love talking on the phone, but given the extra time in a day that there seems to be these days, phone calls have been a great way to support and feel supported.” — Carrie Boyer, fitnfunforthelongrun.com
“I would feel so alone and empty without my girlfriends! They help put things into perspective and we all (without judgment) are there for one another, I love it so much. My mom grew up in a time where you just didn’t chat about everything that we talk about now. More than ever, I value each and every mom friend I have!” — Heather Sears, AWellPacedLife.com
Connect with your mom friends this summer while you set your kids up with these camp alternatives.