As I thumbed through all of those sunny pregnancy magazines, absorbing the upbeat stories of "stroller-size" and the blissful sorority I was about to join, I thought for sure that with the birth of our twins, I'd also connect with a cool new circle of friends. Oh, and that was regardless of whether I went back to work or not. I just assumed that the bond of motherhood would instantly forge meaningful lifelong friendships with a whole new group of people. I couldn't wait! But what I found is that new motherhood is like freshman orientation ALL over again. On the one hand, there are so many new people to meet. But you are in a totally foreign world. Plus, with an infant (or two) in tow, it's really hard to click with other people when your attention is divided between say, having an adult conversation...and changing a diaper or heading off a tantrum. Not to mention that sleep deprivation doesn't do much to show off your sparkling personality.
So, in my Well Mom pursuit of advice for fellow new moms, I recently reached out to relationship expert Dr. Jenn Berman for her take on the friend front. The mother of twins told me, "Join the club."
"We're changing and we're shell-shocked, especially in the beginning. And it takes a while for moms to find their sea legs with motherhood and to reconnect with who they are...so the person you meet in Mommy and Me is probably sleep-deprived and a shell of her former self," she explains. In other words, the person you think may be your new best friend when you first meet in Baby Yoga class may not be your type at all in six months.
"It is exactly like dating," Berman says of meeting new mom friends. "And much like dating, you may meet some moms who you think are great and then you go out and you find out they are duds."
It's all part of the process. But the first step she says is making sure that you DO schedule time to socialize away from the babies. And that goes for longtime friends, as well.
Once you have that one-on-one coffee date or hike with a potential new friend in your calendar, Dr. Berman encourages fellow moms to let your guard down a bit.
"We women tend to sniff each other out. And sometimes it takes taking risk, sharing something about yourself to make a deeper connection to open up a meaningful friendship," advises the Los Angeles -based family therapist and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids.
And of course, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. So you move on. But most of all, now that you're a mom, remember that your time is more precious than ever. "You don't have time to be around people you don't enjoy," Berman says. And just like dating, there are plenty of fish in the sea.