All moms, especially new ones, need someone in whom they can confide, someone to answer their ridiculous questions, someone who understands what they’re going through. So how do you select your mom mentor?
First of all, pick someone you’re already close to. You want to be comfortable sharing all of your stories, whether it’s a pressing puke question, a confession that you have yet to clean up your potty mouth, or a worry that your child isn’t hitting her milestones as quickly as What to Expect… had let you to expect. In my case, my two cousins, who between them have five girls under five, have proven to be the perfect sounding boards for all of my woes. About a month after my son came home from the hospital, we went out to brunch, and I practically drowned them in a deluge of questions and mommy guilt. They answered every one and assured me that feeling worried and inadequate was totally normal. By the end of brunch, I felt full of pancakes and fully reassured.
You’ll want to be sure that your Mommy Mentor shares your parenting philosophy. Trying to practice Attachment Parenting? Don’t select a fervent Ferber mom as your mentor. Or, if you want to talk about sleep training, you’re not going to want to do so with someone who thinks you should bring the baby to bed with you. But a philosophical difference doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot from your friends who choose to parent in another style; it just means they might not be your go-to gal for urgent parenting advice or an open ear. Even better than a mentor whose style exactly mirrors your own is a mom who realizes that everyone has their own parenting approach and who isn’t going to try to foist her views on you.
Schedule time to see, talk to, or email your mentor at least twice a month. It’s easy to get swept up in your new responsibilities as a mom. Finding time to shower can be hard enough! But it’s important to share (and vent) about the joys and stresses of new motherhood with another mom who knows just what you’re going through. Consider a standing coffee or dessert date, or even a weekly video G-chat. You’ll actually feel less fatigued after talking to someone who understands why you’re so exhausted.
Your mommy mentor should be someone to whom you can talk about anything, but some problems are too serious for friends. Yes, your social network can be powerful (see this article by a woman whose son was diagnosed via Facebook), but you want to bring your medical questions straight to your pediatrician. A good mentor, in fact, will tell you there is no such thing as calling your pediatrician too often, no concern too small to broach with a doctor. So if your little one spikes a little temp, go to the doctor first, and then call your friend for a dose of stress relief.
People often talk about how isolating becoming a mother can be, but if you reach out to the right group of women, you’ll find that you’ve grown even closer to a fiercely loyal tribe. That bond will help keep you sane, thereby making you a better mom. And then when a dear friend becomes a mom for the first time, you’ll be ready to be her guide on life’s most magical journey.