Do you ever find yourself at the local park scoping out the moms like you’re desperate and single again? If so, don’t worry that you are going all Fatal Attraction and check yourself into a support group. New motherhood is a time of great wonder, but also great stress, and women thrive on friendships and the validation of close friends.
Why You Need a Playdate Too
Don’t worry. You aren’t cheating on your old friends. But if your bestie doesn’t have kids of her own, she simply can’t relate when you tell her that you almost strangled your husband with a Bob the Builder tool belt this morning because he casually asked you why there were so many toys on the floor.
Patricia O’Brien and Ellen Goodman, authors of I Know Just What You Mean: The Power of Friendship in Women’s Lives (Simon & Shuster, 2000), acknowledge the very female need to be understood and validated in our daily lives. “Without intimates, without the people who ‘get us,’ life would be unbearably lonely.”
Friendships Keep Us Healthy
Many studies have shown that human health is directly tied to relationship success. If we feel satisfied and happy in our relationships, we are less likely to fall ill or suffer from chronic diseases. Carl Charnetski, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and co-author of Feeling Good Is Good for You: How Pleasure Can Boost Your Immune System and Lengthen Your Life (Rodale, 2001), says, “Chronic loneliness, experienced by millions, can actually be a health risk. The absence of friends is associated with higher instances of illness and a great likelihood for death. However, loving and living within a social network of friends and family improves your health and your chances of recovering from illness.”
Forging a New Identity
The first few months of motherhood can be very lonely. Despite the amazing joy that your new baby brings, you may feel like you’ve fallen into a black hole while your former identity disappears into a pile of unwashed laundry and dirty burp cloths.
Although I was completely enraptured by my precious newborn, I simultaneously found myself feeling isolated as I spent my days making deeper and deeper butt-impressions on the couch while communicating solely with someone whose linguistic triumphs included burping and blowing spit bubbles.
Overcome Your Fears and Make New Friends
Fortunately, I was not afraid to stalk other moms at the local play areas and soon enough I was surrounded by a group of women who not only understood exactly what I was going through, but were living it themselves. Play dates became my saving grace. Not because my cross-eyed and drooling three-month-old really needed a friend, but because I needed one.
>>Where do you start? Check out Playdates for parents: Why a support network is vital, and where to find one.
So, if you are a new mom and find yourself struggling with loneliness, don’t be afraid to pull a Fatal Attraction on that cute mom you spotted across the playground, who just so happens to be wearing the very same yoga pants as you. If she doesn’t call the cops on you, you might find yourself wearing matching BFF bracelets and showing each other your stretch marks before the afternoon is over.