When my son was about 8 weeks old, I had a sleep-deprived meltdown of epic proportions. I had lots of women in my life I could talk to, lots of friends and family who loved me and could offer advice, but they had all been through the new mom thing too long ago. Sure, they remembered not sleeping for more than an hour at a time. They had experienced the panic of a screaming baby whose needs had all (presumably) been met. They recalled not showering for days.
But what I wanted—no, needed—was to talk to someone who currently knew the exquisite agony and elation that is new parenthood. Someone who had spit-up and/or poop on them right now.
First, I befriended my neighbor whose son was born three weeks earlier than mine, and then I recruited her to enroll in a Mommy and Me class with me. After our second class, she returned the favor by volunteering me as the group’s “social chair.” I was to help get everyone together outside of our scheduled Thursday morning meet-ups so we could all get to know one another better.
I planned a simple walk at a local park. But since coordinating plans with 10 new moms is like herding cats in the rain at a dog park, I also put all 10 ladies on a group text. “Hey Mamas!” I said, “I thought it would be helpful to have a group text going so people can reach out for our extracurricular gatherings—if you’re late/lost/need help, etc. See everyone next week!”
That was the goal: scheduling and easier access to one another. But that group text evolved into so much more than that. And here are 13 reasons why you’ll want one, too.
1. When you’re up for a 3 a.m. feeding and fighting to stay awake, at least one or two other moms will be up at the same time to commiserate with you.
2. When it’s 4:30 in the afternoon and you’re still in your pajamas, you haven’t managed to shower, two loads of laundry sit unwashed, and the only thing you accomplished was emptying the dishwasher, one of the other moms will not have even managed to load her dishwasher and you’ll feel a teensy bit better about yourself.
3. When your baby who used to nap like clockwork decides to not do that ever again, several other moms whose babies have gone through the same phase will promise you unequivocally that it will only last three days and you definitely will not die.
4. When you’re up for a 3 a.m. feeding and your baby vomits in your hair, at least one or two other moms will be up at the same time to commiserate with you.
5. When you don’t want to be that parent calling your pediatrician at 11 p.m. because you’re mostly sure that your baby just has Eczema (and not Scabies or Impetigo or some other scary thing the internet told you about), the mommies will talk you down and recommend a cream.
6. When you try on your pre-pregnancy clothes for the first time, at least one or two other moms will also be fighting the urge to light her entire closet on fire.
7. When your breast-fed baby is having tummy trouble and the pediatrician tells you to eliminate dairy/soy/gluten/nuts/eggs/flavor/joy from your diet, at least one or two other moms will be going through the same thing. She’ll totally get how you spooned half a jar of sunflower seed butter into your mouth while standing over the kitchen sink just to feel sated enough to keep at it for another day.
8. When your baby wakes up wailing for the 3 a.m. feeding and your partner has somehow gone temporarily deaf in his sleep, at least one or two other moms will be up at the same time to commiserate with you.
9. When your mother-in-law tells you how she “didn’t do it that way” when raising the baby’s father, several moms will be near their phones, providing a forum in which you can type all the snarky retorts that must be expressed before your head explodes.
10. When you’re sleep training your baby and sitting outside her room sobbing in solidarity, the other moms will rally around you via text while also typing emojis of alcoholic beverages, as this is the only way a group of breastfeeding new moms who fall asleep on the couch at 7 p.m. can share a cocktail.
11. When your baby screams his head off during tummy time, the mommies will provide 10 different things to try in five minutes, and suddenly you’re not worried that you’ll end up raising a flat-headed child with no core strength.
12. When you get up for a 3 a.m. feeding and your baby doesn’t, at least one other mom will also be wide awake and watching everyone in her house sleep with the same envy bordering on seething anger.
13. Because it’s hard to make new friends as an adult and it’s equally as difficult to get out of the house with a new baby to meet up with said friends. So, text.
This post is part of the Here.Now series, which seeks to destigmatize mental health,
and is made possible by UJA-Federation of New York and The Jewish Board.
You can find other educational mental health resources here.