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Mom Talk: Navigating Friendships In Motherhood

Written by Hayley Collins Feldman

Photography by Photograph Courtesy Of Tyler Branch

We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life, to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Hayley Collins Feldman talks the importance of making new mom friends, while nurturing relationships with individuals who may not be at that stage in life yet. -JKM

I’m sitting cross-legged on a picnic blanket. A spread of thoughtfully considered food is prepared before me: a nut-cheese, a pack of gluten-free crackers, and an artisanal loaf of bread. No diet-preference left behind. I think to myself, “Why am I nervous?” Though I haven’t dated in six years, it unnervingly feels like a first date.

I fidget between keeping my sunglasses on and off and scrolling through my phone to pass the time, but it feels so trite. My three-month-old daughter seems blissfully unaware of my strange behavior, and I decide to nurse her. That’s when she walks up, or strolls up, I should say, because she’s with her daughter, too. We exchange pleasantries and start getting to know one another. She shares her birth story and I wax poetic on my daughter’s sleep schedule. Our children are too young to interact with one another, but for once, it’s not (exactly) about them. It’s about two women, who used to be strangers, finding common ground over the shared experience of motherhood.

When I found out I was pregnant, my circle of friends included one or two moms. I didn’t think much of it, but by the time my daughter, Loulou, came into our lives, I realized just how important it was to surround myself with like-minded mothers. In fact, I didn’t just need to meet other moms; I needed to meet mothers of babies who were as close to my daughter’s age as possible. The disparity between six months (or even three) can be pretty drastic. And, let’s be honest: the first few months are as foggy as a coastal cloud cover. I soon realized that I needed to be able to relate in real time. Our challenges as parents are ever-changing, and although I’m less than a year in, I imagine that they always will be. In this moment, the dialogue with my “mom friends” revolves around coping with teething, the introduction of solid foods, and baby-proofing the coffee table.

For me, this community of friends who are mothers has always been critical to establish. It started with my doula. She was the one person who connected me with the prenatal yoga classes, which led to the mommy meet-ups, and ultimately resulted in a handful of truly meaningful, new friendships.

While these relationships are vital to my new role as a mother, other friendships have changed, and not always for the better. I suspect that any big life change (marriage, a child) shifts the dynamic of most friendships, whether we like it or not. Out of necessity, I’ve become hyper-focused on identifying truth in friendship. That means saying “no” to brunches, dinners, and events that I would have gladly signed up for in the past. Sure, I can stretch myself thin to find the time. I could ask my husband to babysit, or recruit our nanny for an evening shift. But, the selectivity I’m forced to embrace has forced (nay, allowed) me to focus on the relationships that provide support—something I need now more than ever.

However, this also means taking time to nurture the relationships with my childless-friends. I find myself making a greater effort than ever before. I may have added a descriptive (mom) to my title, but I’m still an individual and these friendships remind me of this in a healthy way. We often meet up with my daughter, but also one-on-one. After all, it’s easier to listen (for both of us) when there aren’t forks flying off the table.

So, it’s the end of a balmy, summer day. I brief the nanny and head down the coast. The music is turned up, because I’m alone, but not for long. There she is, a bottle of rosé chilled and a crudité ready for my arrival. She’s been one of my oldest friends for more than a decade. We’ve been there for each other through unfulfilling jobs and broken relationships. I listen intently as she tells me the story of her day. I tell her stories of mine, but not the ones I typically discuss with my other mom friends. We talk about our new businesses and our husbands—the stories that don’t revolve around diaper subscriptions and nap time. The ones that are essential to maintaining my individuality. The sun sets behind the Santa Monica mountains, and we laugh until the sky fades to black.

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