We met at a local breastfeeding support group, where we bonded over sore nipples, engorged breasts, all-night nurse-a-thons, and the profound joy of your baby smiling up at you while nursing. But it was much more than breastfeeding that drew us together—we were all brand-new moms, riding out this wild, crazy, often terrifying thing called parenting together.
Eventually, we started meeting for weekly playdates on our own, where we watched our babies transform into unruly, adorable toddlers. And we began sharing more than just parenting: Our conversations delved into marriage, our careers and even the state of the world.
It was the height of the recession of the late 2000s and several of our spouses lost their jobs. Many of us were trying to figure out how to balance motherhood with work, or how to eventually return to our careers and stay sane. For a few of us, our marriages were starting to break apart.
One friend left an abusive relationship, fleeing to the other side of the country late one night. We all pitched in keeping her safe—donating toys, car entertainment and gas money to send her on her way. It was bittersweet to watch her go and it felt like the end of an era. But it was the right thing for her, and the fact that we all had her backs was part of the reason she felt like she could make such a brave move.
As the years ticked on, I came to realize that these women—the ones whom I blossomed into motherhood with—were among my deepest, most cherished friends. Starting a family for the first time is a huge transition, one rife with stresses and full of triggers—and the people who wholeheartedly support you through this become your lifelong friends, your sisters.
You and your first mom friends found your voices together as parents.
Your first mom friends shared something with you that your other mom friends don’t quite get. They shared the startling uncertainty that defined new motherhood. The extreme sleep deprivation. The feeling like you are unsure if you’re going to raise decent humans or total hellions. They loved you through all the doubts, embarrassments and moment of low confidence.
They loved you without judgment because they were right there, living through it, too.
You and your first mom friends found your voices together as parents. You parenting styles may have been influenced by each other in some ways. You may have even made totally different choices along the way, but you saw that each choice the other made was shaped by specific life circumstances—and sometimes choices that were beyond control.
You could love your first mom friends unconditionally because you were intimate with all the nuanced differences that make each of our lives unique and beautiful.
And let’s not forget that your first mom friends love your first babies with a fierce loyalty as well. They love them as if they were their own. My first mom friends gets my eldest like no one else does. They saw his willfulness, his braininess and his sensitivity even as a young toddler. I know I can still ask for advice about how to handle his personality now, almost a decade later.
That’s the thing: Even when those toddler playdates and midnight texting sessions die away for the most part—even after years and years—your first mom friends will be there for you. Most of my early mom friends have moved away from the area where we first met but we stay in good touch, despite the fact that we almost all are ten times more busy than we were back when we only had one kid and a more flexible schedule.
And even when we’ve been out of touch for a few months, reconnecting is simple and easy. We can mention something about one of our kids, our spouses or our feelings and opinions about anything, and our first mom friends will just get it. They will nod along in agreement. They will still be able to meet us right where we are at, as parents and as women.
The kind of loyalty you build up with those friends can last a lifetime and any of us who have friends like these are truly lucky beyond measure.