Five Ways To Talk To a Mom Friend You Think Has Postpartum Depression

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After battling and surviving postpartum depression, I have received the following question repeatedly: “Jen, I think my friend might be going through something like what you went through. I want to say something to her about it, but I don’t want to upset her. How do I bring up that she isn’t acting like herself lately?” I wish I had a simple answer to this question, but it’s never simple when it comes to postpartum depression, which is not a one size fits all illness. Every mom’s experience with PPD is unique to her. Her risk factors, symptoms, feelings, and length of illness won’t look like that of any other mom suffering. Just like PPD, every mom is different and motherhood is also not one size fits all.

Before you confront a mom and suggest she might be suffering from PPD, here are some factors I think you should consider: How will she react? How receptive would she be to the idea of needing and asking for help? I think you should also ask yourself, “Am I the best person for this conversation or is there someone else that should be having this conversation?”

While you consider all the above, here are my five suggestions for approaching a friend you believe might be showing signs of postpartum depression.

1. Research and prepare a list of local resources.

Before you do anything else, get informed. Educate yourself about everything postpartum depression. Postpartum Support International is a great place to start. If you are going to tell a mom you think she might have PPD, you better go in prepared. Arm yourself with the facts about how common postpartum depression is and how temporary it can be with proper treatment. Make a list of local resources for your friend such as therapists, hospitals, and women’s centers that specialize in postpartum mood disorders so she immediately knows there are places to go to help her figure out what’s going on. Offer to go with her if you think that would help. Make sure she knows she’s not alone.

2. Consider how close you are to this mom.

Are you someone who has had difficult conversations with this mom before? Is your friendship one where you confide in each other about everything? If the answer is yes, you probably already have the comfort level needed to approach mom. Start with a question. “Mom, are you doing okay? You don’t seem like yourself. I know you just had a baby, but it’s more than that. What’s going on with you?”

3. Think about mom’s personality and how she reacts to difficult situations.

It’s important to think about mom’s reaction before you suggest she could be suffering from PPD. Does she like to do everything by herself? Does she struggle admitting when something is hard? Would she rather fake a smile than admit something is wrong? Ask yourself these questions and craft your approach based on how you predict she will respond. Or based on your answers, maybe you know someone better suited to talk to her.

4. Talk to mom’s partner first.

Mom’s partner is a direct link to how she is behaving. Her partner might have noticed some red flags too but has no idea what they mean or what to do about them. First ask yourself the questions above to determine the best way for clueing mom in to the fact that something isn’t right and she might need help. Her partner is a good place to start.

5. There is strength in numbers.

If you don’t think mom will listen to only one person, will she respond to her tribe? Ask your group of mom’s friends and family if they’ve witnessed anything similar. If you’re going to go with the group approach, make sure each person involved is extremely close with mom and not of the judgmental, opinionated kind because you want her to be able to feel like she can talk freely and honestly.

No matter what you decide when it comes to approaching your mom friend, the most important thing to remember is to always come from a place of empathy and acceptance, never one of judgment. Mom is most likely feeling tremendous confusion, guilt, and shame about feeling anything other than connected to her new baby and overwhelmed with the joy of becoming a mother. You want her to feel supported and understood so she feels comfortable and safe admitting to any struggles and symptoms relating to postpartum depression. If she’s not responsive to your conversation, just let her know you’re here to hold space for her. Be patient and check in regularly with mom, her partner, and other members of her tribe.

At some point, all of us will know a new mom suffering from some form of postpartum depression. It’s up to all of us to educate ourselves so no new mom suffers in silence. Click here to receive your free copy of my WTF are Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: The Friends and Family Guide For How to Help, What to Do and What Not to Say.

The Motherhood Edition of The Jewish Holidays

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By Jen Schwartz (The Medicated Mommy) & Rachel Sobel (Whine & Cheez – its)

Early fall is Jewish holiday season. That means going to temple, eating apples and honey in hopes of a sweet year ahead, family dinners filled with equal parts kvelling & kvetching, and a day of starvation fasting that culminates in the annual carb loading frenzy with bagels, lox, noodle kugel, and cookies. Lots of cookies. You know…a “light” meal.

And if your child attends a Jewish preschool/day school, you are basically screwed and they may as well close for the month of October with the amount of days you have off.

That’s right folks, we are currently living in the space between the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) where we ask forgiveness for our sins and hope to make it into the Book of Life for another year.

Lucky for us, Jews get to make New Years’ resolutions twice. You know, if for some reason you bailed on the ones you made in January for the non-secular New Year, here’s a second chance in October. I don’t know about you, but we’re still eating cake, ice cream and half-consumed bags of goldfish and desperately trying to fit into our skinny jeans because even though we get dressed in workout clothes every day, we don’t actually go work out every day. It’s kind of like our uniform for school drop off and the couple hours following. That is until we can pee and shower without a child opening the door a trillion times asking us to change the channel when the remote control is actually in their little sticky hands.

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Thinking about how you want to live in the Jewish New Year is both a blessing and a curse…because as you start to make promises to yourself about the year ahead, you are also going backwards to relive those times this past year you might not be so proud of. And as moms, there are definitely a few that come to mind. So, rather than focus on personal transgressions this year, we are confessing ours sins of motherhood. Let this be our atonement for:

  • Lying to our children (and maybe even setting the clocks forward) to convince them it’s bedtime so you have enough time to shower and settle in before Bachelor in Paradise.
  • Telling them a store is closed (at 3pm on a Thursday) because you just don’t feel like going to buy another pack of shopkins.
  • Having a salad for dinner but then polishing off the abandoned chicken-nuggets your child left on his or her plate.
  • Forgetting to wash a school uniform and digging a dirty one out of the hamper, spraying it with Febreze and sending them on their way.
  • Being so desperate to finish homework that you may have “led the witness” to arrive at the correct answer.
  • Letting your children watch back-to-back (and by back-to-back we mean 10) episodes of their favorite show just so you could put the finishing touches on your contributed article with the looming deadline.
  • Regifting a target gift card for a birthday party because you spaced and forgot to grab a gift.

In light of these confessions, here are our Jewish New Year’s resolutions– what we hope to do better or more of as moms in the coming year. And if we fail or don’t hit them all, January is right around the corner!

  • Telling the truth, as in when we inform our little ones that ice cream is not a dinner food, we also don’t eat ice cream for dinner or in other words, I will fit into those skinny jeans!
  • Not beating ourselves up when we need just one more hour of sleep so, without making any eye contact, we slip the iPad through the cracked door of our kids’ bedrooms.
  • Losing the guilt when our children watch ten episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in one sitting because binge watching is clearly a skill they will need when they get older.
  • Admitting that our kids are assholes sometimes because when they are lying face down on the floor screaming, kicking their legs, and shouting “NO” on repeat because they’re not ready to go to sleep or do anything you ask them to do, they are being assholes!
  • Not stressing about our kids still sleeping in pullups at night because let’s be real, who wants to start their morning cleaning up shit, changing sheets, and doing even more laundry?
  • Understanding that it’s okay to ask our husbands to do parent things like watch the kids, help with homework, feed them dinner, and handle bath time because they aren’t simply babysitters, they are dads and it’s their job too!
  • Realizing motherhood is effing hard and it’s okay to serve cereal for dinner (hey, it’s good enough for breakfast), put ourselves first, ask for what we want, leave the kids with a babysitter, and drink all the wine…because happy mommy equals happy everyone!

This post originally appeared on Suburban Misfit Mom.

Dating For Mom Friends

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Making new mom friends isn’t always easy. Actually, it’s a lot like dating. You fear rejection. You want to have chemistry with that new mom you meet at mommy and me class. You want her to like you. Will her friends like you? What if she’s not looking for something serious? What if she’s not currently on the market for a new friend?  What if she judges you for feeling bored at mommy and me class?

You might fumble over your words when introducing yourself to a new mom at the at the park for the first time. You hope she looks through Instagram on her iPhone while her kids play, just like you do. You spend hours getting ready for your first playdate. You want everything to be perfect so there will be a second playdate. 

You question and doubt yourself. What will she think of me if the cookies I serve contain gluten? Does she know I sometimes feed my kid too many afternoon snacks when I’m just too exhausted to argue? How soon is too soon to share I had postpartum depression when my son was born? Will she conveniently lose my number if I call my kid an asshole behind his back for not sharing?

You wonder if it will be a match. What if I’m not so crazy about her? What if she’s a card-carrying member of the perfect parents’ parade? Please don’t let her be one of those moms that always smiles. I really can’t handle another afternoon of listening to how magical motherhood is all the time. No more liars. I don’t believe that your child has never bit someone in his three-year existence. Can we please talk about something other than our kids? Can you leave the kids alone so we can talk about adult things that have nothing to do with parenting? They will figure out who gets to play with the firetruck by themselves.    

When dating meeting new moms, I’m not looking for perfect. Perfect is boring. Perfect is exhausting. Perfect doesn’t exist. I don’t care if you have one child or five, how you delivered them, how you chose to feed them, if you work or stay home, or spend hours making Pinterest Valentine’s Day cards for everyone in your child’s class. I just want to meet someone real, who isn’t afraid to be imperfect and admit that being a mom is the hardest job they have ever signed up for—where there are days they feel like mom of the year and others where they think they should be fired. And that while they wouldn’t trade it in for anything, there are days where they have strongly considered it. 

Maybe the best solution would be to walk around with dating profiles stuffed in our diaper bags, attached to our backs, or our kids’ food-stained t-shirts.

Here’s an excerpt from what mine would say:

Perfectly imperfect mom of an adorable, funny, compassionate four-year old boy who thinks he’s the boss of everyone and everything. Postpartum depression survivor, happily medicated, professional TV binge watcher, and definitely not a morning person. While I will never win Pinterest’s mom of the year award, I bake incredible brownies that I sometimes eat for dinner after having told my son, “We don’t eat brownies for dinner.” I believe in self-care, gluten, sugar, drinking responsibly at playdates, hair blow-outs, and hiring babysitters so I can spend time with other adults who don’t want to talk about their children all day long. I can often be found negotiating how many pieces of broccoli my little one has to eat at mealtime or begging him to watch Paw Patrol because I have no more patience to play airport or carwash.

I’m looking for other moms who are also madly in love with their children but aren’t afraid to be real about the rollercoaster of motherhood. If you’re looking for someone who will tell you the truth, make you laugh (and bring the martinis) when you feel like you’re failing or just because you need a martini, always reassure you, you’re not alone, and never judge, I think we could become besties. If you’re a mom-shamer or refuse to admit motherhood is anything but amazing 100 percent of the time, it will never work between us.      

I’m not the only mom who feels the isolation that often accompanies motherhood and the frustration that exists when looking to meet other moms who are your people. Recently, mom and entrepreneur Michelle Kennedy meshed motherhood and dating with the creation of her new app, Peanut, a sort of “Tinder for Moms,” which launched in New York City and is now available nationally. 

Peanut’s mission is one I can easily get behind: We’re on a mission to build a community of women, who happen to be mamas. Because let’s face it, the more women in your life, the better it becomes.

I couldn’t agree more. Women need each other. Moms need other moms. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in doing motherhood by myself. It’s a lot more manageable and fun when you have a tribe of women who have your back and will join you in your closet while you hide from your kids with that martini.

Women need each other. Moms need other moms. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in doing motherhood by myself. It’s a lot more manageable and fun when you have a tribe of women who have your back and will join you in your closet while you hide from your kids with that martini.

This post originally appeared on Motherlucker.

Happy Valentines Day! #ThisIsLove Is All Of This

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Love is my close mom friend putting me in bed, rubbing lotion on my feet, and staying until I fall asleep after the exhaustion of postpartum depression and anxiety have set in for the day. Love is my mom who always answered the phone each morning so I could walk laps around my neighborhood, sobbing to her that I would never get better.

Love is my husband coming to therapy with me so he could better understand what was I was going through and how to support me.

Love is my husband sending me flowers just to tell me he is proud of the fight I am putting up.

Love is my sister crying on the phone to me because she is worried and just wants ME to be okay.

Love is my sister holding my hand in person and from afar because she knows what it’s like to feel how I feel.

Love is my best friends talking and emailing behind my back because they want me to get healthy and happy.

Love is my best friend celebrating when she realizes the old Jen is back.

Love is speaking out, asking for help, and accepting treatment so I can be the best possible mom to my son.

Love is overwhelming when I think of how much I have of it for him.

Love is when he kisses my lips, tells me he loves me, that I’m pretty, his best friend, and melts me into mush.

Love is what fills my heart every night I watch him sleeping.

Love is your friends who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth, call you out on your bullshit, even when it’s hard, even if I want to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Love is the same friends who accept you as you are and never judge or shame.

Love is my dad telling me have big balls because I’m not afraid to ask for what I want and need.

Love is being able to save a friend’s life by just being there to listen and tell her she’s not alone.

Love is my husband knowing what I’m going to do before I even do it.

Love is sometimes not having to say anything at all.

Love is a weekend girls trip to reminisce, catch up, and take some time off from adulting.

Love is the connection I feel to the incredible tribe of Campowerment women.

Love is my husband sharing me often with these fabulous women.

Love is my husband taking our son to Chuck E. Cheese so I can sleep late (and because I hate Chuck E. Cheese).

Love is when he lets me have the last sushi roll and piece of chocolate cake.

Love is wandering the streets of New York City and Paris.

Love is the Soul Cycle class that ends with me crying.

Love is Peter Lugers steak dinner for 2 with hash browns and creamed spinach.

Love is a 2 AM pizza delivery because…I drank too much.

Love is an endless bowl of pasta.

Love is a warm chocolate chip cookie with coffee ice cream on top.

Love is treating myself with respect, compassion, and kindness.

Love Is learning to put my happiness first and how to live in authenticity.

Love is learning how to pay it forward.

Love is being a trench buddy for other moms.

Love is all those moments from the entire movie of your life you wish you could bottle, hold on to, and remember forever—the friends who always show up, never judge, always support, and never out your skeletons. The family members that love you unconditionally and the men who lift us up and make us better women, and our children who show us the world all over again from a unique perspective of wonder and lots of silliness.

This post originally appeared on Mogul.

Written For Suburban Misfit Mom: Five Moms That Just Aren’t My Type

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All moms are different. We find what works for us. We do what we have to do. We parent in our own unique ways, but the stuff of motherhood makes us all part of the same tribe. We all carry life. We all bring that life into the world by destroying our vaginas or cutting open our stomachs. We sacrifice our tits to be food sources. We give up the privilege of full nights of sleep, daily showers, and the right to pee or poop in privacy. We rock our scars and battle wounds with pride. We sport our children’s leftovers, spit up, vomit, even poop that somehow made it on to our clothing without us noticing. We love and give and teach. We juggle and schlep and sacrifice, fight for, and would die for our children. We should all be able to admit that some days we represent the picture of perfect parenthood while other days we epically fail. I’m not here to tell you what kind of mom to be, but some of you ruin it for the rest of us when you refuse to admit the clusterfuck of contradicting emotions and daily ups and downs you experience as mothers, just like the rest of us. So if you fall into one of these categories, we probably won’t end up becoming best mom friends. And that’s okay.

  1. The Martyr

Why make yourself extra miserable when there is so much built in misery that comes with this job —shitty sleepers, picky eaters, the tantrums, the nagging, and the obsessive neediness. Stop breastfeeding if it makes you seriously unhappy. Don’t refuse to ask for help if you need it. Quit ignoring the fact that you’re miserable in the first place. If you want to stay stuck like that, that’s your choice, but don’t make me feel like I need to join you. Don’t act like you’re better than me because you’re sticking it out. You don’t get a medal for being a martyr. I stopped breastfeeding after five days because it made me miserable and I chose to take care of my health so I could take care of my baby. I’m not interested in hanging out with any mom who would try to make me feel guilty for any of my parenting choices. And I’m definitely not interested in being the company to your misery.  

  1. The Doer

You know those moms who literally do it all, smile, and look like they love every minute of it? (I’m sure they are dying a little inside). They volunteer on the PTA, attend every meeting, sign up to be classroom mom, go on every field trip, never bring store bought anything, go to the playground every day and make you feel bad about yourself if you don’t? Well I don’t really like to spend most of my free time volunteering or monitoring my son on the playground. I won’t be the first mom signing up to be class parent or field trip chaperone. It’s MY time! I want to be friends with the mom who wants to come over and sit her child in front of the TV next to mine for a Mickey Mouse binge-watching session while sipping on some Sauvignon Blanc.

  1. The Every-mom

The every-mom is friends with every mom. When she hosts a party, she invites every mom she knows–close friends, acquaintances, moms she doesn’t even like that much. Why? Why don’t you just invite the people you actually want be with? And how can you invite someone to a party when you were badmouthing them yesterday? How do I know you weren’t gossiping about me before I got the invite to your party this weekend? No one expects you to be friends with everyone. I get being inclusive when it comes to children and parties, but when it’s just the adults? I favor small groups activities. I despise small talk. I prefer intimate conversations. Keep it small. Keep it real!

  1. The Pretender 

I do not believe in pretending when it comes to motherhood. Moms who pretend everything is perfect all the time make the rest of us who don’t, think there is something wrong with us. If you are a mom who repeatedly uses the word amazing, then I say you’re most likely full of shit. Be honest. You’re having sex at least three times a week? You cook a homemade, organic meal every night for your kids? Your child would never hit someone? You don’t believe in iPads, ever? You don’t imagine running away even just for a few hours? You’ve never hidden in your closet, crying, eating chocolate ice cream in secret? I don’t buy any of it. No one has it all together all the time. Fall apart. Cry. Yell. Confess that you fed your kid cereal for dinner last night or that he hasn’t had a proper bath in almost a week. Admit that it took you much longer than you expected to bond with your child. I want to be around other moms who aren’t afraid to embrace these common feelings. Moms who have no issues calling their children assholes when they are in fact, being assholes.

  1. The Helicopter 

I want to sit back and let my kid be. Let him figure out how to take turns, work out his own disagreements. Tell him to shake it off when he falls down. Not run to him or give him what he wants immediately when he wants it and screams for it. Most importantly, I want to have adult time and conversation, but how can we when all you do is hover over and tend to every single one of your child’s needs. How can we go out for a drink after the kids go to sleep when you won’t let anyone else watch them? How can we take a girls’ trip when you refuse to leave your little ones for even a few hours? How dare you try to make me feel like a bad mom because I do all those things. I will never agree with you that your kids should have been invited to that wedding. It’s an adult party and you probably need to dance your face off more than you realize. Get a friggin’ babysitter. Drop the kids off at Grandma’s. Teach your kids to be independent. Train them to be less dependent on you. I promise you will thank me for it later when you finally agree to meet me for that drink.

This post originally appeared on Suburban Misfit Mom.

Mom Friends vs. Friends

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Is there a difference between having friends who are moms and friends who are not moms? I use the term mom friend a lot when I write. I think it’s me subconsciously needing to specify the difference between a friend who has children and one who doesn’t. I don’t even know why I do this because I don’t care if you have zero, one, or five children. It’s not part of my friendship criteria. I like my friends with a sense of humor, a little bit of crazy, and edgy with a side of brutal honesty. If you don’t fit those credentials, we might not end up getting along. Or you might not like me that much and we might just say hi and make small talk on the playground. That’s okay. I don’t feel like I need to be liked and accepted by everyone. You can’t win them all!

I’ll admit, sometimes it’s easier to hang out with other moms. Maybe that’s why I’m always making the distinction. We all have our issues, children or not, but moms get each other’s particular type and level of crazy. They usually don’t care if you’re late because your child swore fifty times that he didn’t have to go potty and then the minute you got out the door, he decided he needed to go potty. They don’t get offended if you forget to call. They would much rather text than talk anyway because most days that just takes way too much effort. They always apologize for their house being messy when it looks way more put together than yours. And real mom friends let you come over to hang out and don’t get angry when you decide to take a nap on their couch because…no child for a few hours.

I also really enjoy hanging out with friends who don’t have kids. Because the honest truth is that sometimes I don’t really want to be a mom.  When I hang out with these friends, I get to be more than Mason’s mom. I get to be the care-free, fun, still too honest girl I was before motherhood. I don’t spend the entire time talking about my kid or the color and texture of his latest poop. I don’t vent about how exhausted I am or how alone I sometimes feel. It’s almost like escaping from reality sometimes. Not that we don’t talk about my son at all or these friends don’t ask how he’s doing, but it’s also really nice to have some drinks, eat some nachos, play some trivia and talk about things that have nothing to do with motherhood, like how we can possibly wait a whole year until season 7 of Game of Thrones.

When I went to Campowerment last March, I met so many women who chose not to have children, women I now consider to be close friends. Sometimes women who don’t have any kids are constantly bombarded by the same questions and statements as women with only one child. When are you going to have a (another) baby? Are you sure you don’t want any (another) one? I’m sure you will change your mind. What do you parents think about that? And our responses are always the same too. “No, no, no I won’t, and I don’t give a fuck what other people think. It’s my decision.”  All these women who I met never felt the need to apologize for their choices and I found that so empowering and refreshing. I was able to be myself and more than just Mason’s mom with them.

I have both types of friends, but my inner circle of close girlfriends all just happen to be moms. These are moms who I knew before they were moms—who I went to college with and have seen at their best and worst moments. We all knew each other before motherhood jacked our lives and daily sanity and gave us this new normal where sometimes we go weeks or months without seeing each other. It’s also amazing to be embark on the journey of motherhood together, watch our children grow up, continue to be there for each other’s best and worst, and celebrate each other’s milestones during this stage of life.

I’m definitely not the girl who has millions of friends. I’m not so sure big group activities are even my scene. Intimate gatherings seem to be more my thing these days. And who really cares if someone has a child or not. I just want to be around women who support and celebrate one another and build each other up. I want my friends to “get me.” My close friends, moms or not, love me for me, that girl who “only just said out loud what you know you were thinking in your head at that moment.” That girl who isn’t afraid to put all her shit out there for everyone to read and see. I mean, duh! I have a blog, don’t I? I’m their medicated mommy friend who is imperfectly perfect, deeply flawed, gives zero fucks, and not ashamed to admit any of it.

I’m always looking for new members to add to my tribe. And it’s not always so easy to find your people. Or you find them and then they move away (which leaves me with conflicting emotions of “I totally understand why you left,” and “I’m so jealous you got to leave and go to a better place.”). So if you come with a kickass sense of humor, possess a pretty sharp edge, aren’t afraid to show your cray or tell me the awful truth, I think we might be destined to best friends (mom or non-mom, it doesn’t matter). And if we happen to meet on the playground, I’ll most likely be that mom sitting on the bench with the resting bitch face texting another mom friend how much I don’t enjoy the playground.   Yep, that’s me—silently cursing my child for only wanting to play in the nasty-ass, germ-infested sandbox (when there are 8 different kinds of slides), while I count the minutes until I can go home, pour a glass of wine, and convince my child that watching Doc McStuffins is so much more fun than playing airplane with mommy…because It’s been a long day and mommy is exhausted from sitting on the bench.

Q & A With Elizabeth Isadora Gold, Author of The Mommy Group (Cont...)

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I'm back with Elizabeth Isadora Gold, author of The Mommy Group: Freaking Out, Finding Friends, and Surviving the Happiest Times of Our Lives Today she talks  more about motherhood, why we as moms need to advocate for ourselves, and the best ways to find your mommy group. The Mom Of An Only Child

I’m an only child, and I didn’t think I would have just the one. But here we are. It is what it is. I’m a writer, we live in New York City, I’m turning 42, and I had postpartum mental illness. We are not financially, emotionally, or physically prepared to have another child. Sometimes I feel quite sad about that, and sometimes I’m good with it. The main thing is to make Clara feel that she has friends-as-family, both in terms of her kid friends and with other grownups. My mommy group has continued to be such a wonderful source of support and love for our family.

Advocating For Yourself As A Mother

Well, no one’s gonna do it for you, at least not yet. It’s feminism, it’s politics, it’s life. If we don't organize as women and as mothers, nothing will change. The United States has (say it with me) the worst parental leave and benefits for parents in the developed world. This is a shame in all sense of the word. Advocate. Vote. Fight.

The Best Time To Find A Mommy Group

I was very happy that we started as a pregnancy group. It meant that we got to know each other before our worlds exploded.

The Best Places To Find Your Mommy Group

Wherever there are mothers, there are mommy groups. For initial organization, social media and neighborhood listservs are great. But really: just walk up to the lady who has a baby or a pregnant stomach, introduce yourself, and make a plan to meet up. And when you do, talk. Not just about cloth versus disposable diapers, but about how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking. It’s the only way to get real – you have to be brave enough to go first.

Keeping Up With The Mommy Group

Yes. We don’t all meet all together, but everyone in the group still knows each other, and several of the members are still in close touch. The fact that I wrote a book about us has affected the dynamic for sure (in that I keep everyone in touch with each other, at least somewhat).

Joining New Mommy Groups

I haven’t joined any other mommy group, but I’ve made good friends at her preschool and kindergarten. I do have a writing group which happens to be all moms, so I guess that ends up being a de facto mommy group. But our kids don’t come.

Worst Parenting Moment

Having postpartum anxiety and wondering if I’d be able to care for my child.

Best Parenting Moment

Last night I took Clara to a friend’s novel reading at a bookstore. She actually sat on my lap and was quiet and respectful, and sort of heard the story. She also learned the word “filibuster” last night and wants to write to Obama about gun control. If you’d asked me a week or a month or year ago, I probably would have told you what had happened in the last twenty-four hours. There’s always a best moment.

Keeping The Spark Alive In Your Relationship 

Just be friends and be nice to each other. And make each other laugh. My husband and I went to the movies twice last week (we were done teaching and decided to treat ourselves to movies during the day). That was great.

Reading List

I just finished my friend Emily Barton’s wonderful novel, The Book of Esther. I’m also reading Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me. I’m perpetually attempting to catch up on my pile of New Yorker magazines. I’m reading a lot of political blogs and sites these days as well.

More Writing

I’ll be publishing an interview with Emily Barton (the novelist mentioned above) in Salon this month. I’m still in a bit of book PR mode, but the summer will bring (I hope) a few essays and some more imaginative writing. It’s just started so I’m not sure yet. More books to come, I hope.

I want to thank Elizabeth for taking the time out of her busy schedule to chat with me so openly and honestly. For more information about Elizabeth and her writing, go here. And don't forget to pick up a copy of The Mommy Group: Freaking Out, Finding Friends, and Surviving the Happiest Times of Our Lives

Written For Suburban Misfit Mom - Two Moms, Polar Opposites, Best Friends—How Does That Work?

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My introduction to motherhood was through my best friend, the first friend I made when I moved South almost nine years ago. She and I were set up in true Jewish match-making fashion—by our parents. I walked away from dinner that night taking comfort in her recognizable brand of jeans and cute black top. Maybe I would be okay in the South after all. It wasn’t until later that I realized she saved the Lilly Pulitzer for more special occasions, like Saturdays and birthday parties. She was my first friend to become a mother, long before I ever decided I wanted to get pregnant and pop a tiny human out of my vagina, or in my case, evict him from my belly with major surgery. Although both boys, her first baby has four years on mine and she had her second before my husband even knocked me up. Clearly I took the slower, more scenic route to motherhood. And the differences don’t stop there.

She breastfed her first born for 17 months. I breastfed (if you can even call it that) mine for five days. I chose formula, something her son will never know the taste of. I had a night nurse for two months, and basically never woke up in the middle of the night with my son, who was sleep trained by two months. She did it all that by herself. She crafted every decoration and baked every dessert herself for her son’s first birthday. I paid someone on Etsy to do it for me. She would labor as long as possible without the epidural and avoid a C-section at all costs. I would scream “DRUGS” the minute I got to the hospital and schedule my C-section if I were to have another baby. She went on to have two more children, making her a mom of three. I’m still a mom of one and plan to stay that way forever. She would never call her child an asshole. I dedicate entire blog posts to calling mine that. She cooks. I make reservations. She is up early in the morning to feel productive. I’m lucky if I can get out of bed and my child to preschool on time. Sometimes I go back to sleep after drop-off.

The real truth is, none of this matters when it comes to our friendship, the love we have for each other, and the respect and support we give to each other as women and moms. We are there for each other no matter what. My best friend took to motherhood right away. It took me almost a year because of postpartum depression. And she was there for me every step of the way. She always accepted me for who I was, especially in motherhood, which was the complete opposite of her. We celebrate each other’s professional and personal accomplishments, and milestones of our children. We grieve together at the loss of loved ones. We text each other all day everyday. We constantly laugh at ourselves and each other.

I always joke with this friend that she’s the reason for my failure at breastfeeding, my unnecessary long labor, and basically motherhood for the first six months of my son’s life. This is obviously not the truth, but everything I thought I wanted and knew, I learned from watching her and her uncanny abilities as both a superhero Pinterest mom and champion breastfeeder. As a result, I thought I would have my baby the old-fashioned way and miraculously fall in love with motherhood while transforming into supermom, professional crafter, breastfeeding enthusiast, and all around domestic goddess.

What I failed to realize before having my son, is that no woman has any clue about the mother they will be until they actually become one. I didn’t become any of those things and it started it with laboring for 24 hours, pushing for two of those, and then having a C-section. My friend probably didn’t even know what kind of mother she would be. And even though I like to think that she always has it together, I know my friend has experienced sleepless nights, feeding struggles, toddler tantrums and other stresses of motherhood. She just happens to be an incredibly strong woman who somehow always seems to handle it with grace. It’s one of the qualities I admire most about her. And having a type-A personality doesn’t hurt either. That’s another difference we share as I consider myself to be more type B+.

What I love most about my friend is her honesty and willingness to help out other moms. She is always happy to share what works for her but gives zero fucks if you don’t take her advice. There is no guilting, no shaming, no judging. She understands that motherhood is not one size fits all. What works for her might not work for you. I ask her for advice all the time, and even though I don’t always follow it, she is the best human and friend I know, and again, we couldn’t be more different as parents.

At the end of the day, moms are moms, no matter what their choices and parenting styles might be. And motherhood is incredible and rewarding, scary and hard, and a shit show 90 percent of the time. We all have that universal experience of motherhood in common. It binds and bonds us all together and we need each other to survive it. We need to rely on each other to survive it. My best friend is part of my tribe, the village it takes to allow me to be a happy mom raising a happy child. We are two women who couldn’t be more different when it comes to motherhood, but we love each other, learn from each other, support each other, and build one another up everyday.

This article was originally published at Suburban Misfit Mom. on June 16, 2016.