Two women talking over coffee and muffins

The Magical Mom Friend: Sometimes You Only Really Need One

I found out I was pregnant our very first day overseas, in the base hotel bathroom in Stuttgart, Germany. Every mom I knew, including my own mother, was 6,000 miles away. Thrilled and slightly panicked, I dove right in. I knew I needed mom-friends – a magical group of women who could show me the ropes, tell me what to do and offer world-class advice. I took every single parenting class on base: baby wearing, breast feeding, and getting a passport for baby. I parked myself at the New Parent Support office. I went on a hospital tour that was conducted entirely in German. (Pro-tip: “nurse” in German is Krankenschwester – which means literally “sick sister.”)

I tried to make small talk, or at least eye contact, with moms I saw at the commissary, on the duty bus, and in my infant CPR class. But small talk is not my strong suit. Six months in, I was very alone. My husband’s confidence that I would be a good mother was flattering, but I was convinced he was mistaken – I couldn’t even make mom-friends!

Then I met a woman in my birthing class who was chatty enough to make up for my lack of small-talk skills and who offered to drive me to the prenatal yoga class she was taking on the economy since I didn’t have a car. That was it. All we needed to build a lasting connection were the basics; we were both first-time mothers about to pop out a new human without an English-speaking delivery team (“push” in German? pressen).

It took some time, but eventually we were able to share the most basic of fears with each other; we were worried we might not be “enough” – strong enough, smart enough, resilient enough, good enough – for our daughters, who were born two weeks apart.

Of course, our new-parent doubt manifested itself in different ways. For me, the most obvious problem was our balcony. I became convinced I might trip and accidentally toss my beautiful baby over the four-foot barrier Monty Python-style. Silly? You bet. But my friend didn’t laugh. There was no magical world-class mom-advice passed between us – neither of us had any to give, but she didn’t tell me I was crazy or paranoid, or make me feel ashamed. She just kept showing up. And I did the same for her.

Surprise, surprise. Turns out my friend and I are more than enough for our girls. There hasn’t been anything we couldn’t handle. And no one went over the balcony.

The realities of military life mean that my friend is now 20 states away, and we are raising preschoolers who wouldn’t recognize each other. But her friendship has imparted a lesson I’ll never forget: it’s not that hard to support each other, and it doesn’t take a gaggle of women or a wealth of experience to do it. For me, it took just one person – a fellow newbie who took me to yoga, did not make me feel silly, and occasionally told me my hair looked nice.

The true magic of the mom-friend is that it’s not magic at all.

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