7 Ways to Make Mom Friends, or Be the Weird Mom

Motherhood can be a lonely endeavor. However fulfilled we are with our children and jobs and families, we are often without meaningful adult conversation for hours or days at a time. The most common complaint I hear from fellow moms is how hard it is to make new and genuine friends—the ones that allow and encourage you to really open up. These moms can be hard to identify at first, but they are around. So when you start to hang around the baristas at Starbucks, asking how they really feel about the new mocha-caramel-peppermint-pumpkin latte, it’s time to work on finding new mom friends with whom you can relate, rejoice, commiserate, and be your frazzled, cranky, delightful self.

These seven tips may not be fool-proof, but at least you’ll be interacting with people who are not paid to have to talk to you. All you have to lose is a little pride and possibly a lot of bottled up confessions about this crazy thing called motherhood.


1. Determine your most important criteria for your new mom friends. Remember that nobody is perfect, so you may have to compromise. Here are my list tops: Did you see last night’s Dateline? and, Is that a bottle of wine stashed in the bottom of your stroller?


2. Approach all potential new mom friends with an intriguing opening line. I have found that “#$@% I was close to putting the kids out on the street with nothing but a bag of Oreos this morning,” weeds out the women who can’t stomach cursing or hyperbole. (This also weeds out moms who will judge your breakfast food choices.)


3. Know how to interpret responses: Is she dialing 911? Best to keep moving. Silence. Don’t give up. She may be recalling the last time she locked herself in the bathroom with a pint of mint chocolate chip. Nervous laugh. This can be a good sign. She hasn’t met anyone like you. (Just ease up now on listing all the places you’d be happy to leave your children.) *&%^ yes, me too! Congratulations, you met your soul mate.


4. Bond over clothing or accessories you have in common. “I have those SAME yoga pants,” works for me. This is similar to recognizing gang colors, I am told. (Hair scrunchies, head bands, and cardigans with pockets are also easy items to spot; you are likely wearing two of these items at any time.) Approach one potential friend at a time. In other words, separate your prey from the pack. Groups of moms are difficult to crack. Wait until one is left behind at the playground. She won’t see you coming.


5. If you are lucky enough to have a child melting down in public, gauge the reactions of the moms around you. The one extending a fist-bump is your gal.


6. Be persistent. If your first attempt leaves you disheartened, try again. Try with ten or twenty women until you find one mom who, like you, is waiting for someone to share embarrassing stories and frustrations and laughs that accompany raising little beings.


7. Give someone an opening to tell you how she dosed the kids with Benadryl after the third sleepless night. Nod if someone tells you she often pretends that tantruming child in the grocery store aisle is not hers. In the meanwhile, enjoy your status as the weird mom who makes everyone a little uncomfortable. Know that all the other moms secretly envy your courage to be honest (and probably your yoga pants).


Posted in Family Life, Humor, It's All About Me, Mental health, New York City Living and Coping, Parenting Moments | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

A Mother’s Story, Told by Daughters

My girls, who are five and seven, found two little books in a bookcase that I was to fill out at some point. The books are similar, each is called A Mother’s Story, and they are meant to be keepsake journals, records from one generation to the next.

Being a procrastinator, a recorder on blogs and social media now more than in journals, I’ve left those little books alone. But the girls were happy to fill in the answers themselves, and as I went through the books with their unfinished statements, clearly meant to record and save a mother’s childhood and personal thoughts for her daughter(s), I laughed and was a little surprised at the places we intersect.

(I didn’t help them with these; I suspect they did them together as only one girl knows how to read well. I have corrected the spelling to spare you the hours of effort.)


Mother: Wendy

Dauther: Ellie


My favorite outfit to wear was….

My mommy bought me a stuffed bunny and she bought me a yoga mat.


My favorite subject in school was…

Art is the best.


My very best friend was…

Santa got me a Stuff Stuffy.


The person I looked up to the most was…

Luna. [Luna is a kindergartner.]


My first job was…

My babysitter bought a toy for me.


The most important lesson I ever learned was…

I love my mom.


The best advice anyone ever gave me…

You can’t say the word Die


Some of my goals were…



When you were a child, a typical day was…

When my kids hit me. [That is not a typical day.]


You made me laugh when…

When I did silly dances.


You surprise me most when…

When you wear a wig.


You remind me of myself when…

I was a baby.


Mother: Wendy

Daughter: Molly


My earliest childhood memory is….

My sister. She was a baby. She was sitting on my lap.


The happiest time in my childhood was…

When we went to Disney World.


As a child, people would describe me as…

A beautiful girl and sunshine sun.


When I was growing up, I wanted to become a…

Police woman because so I can help the world not get hurt and in trouble.


My most mischievous moment was…

When I was born.


When I was little, I liked to spend time…

With my family.


My favorite outfit to wear was…

A shirt and shorts or leggings or jeans or pants.


My favorite subject in school was…

Art and computer and music and library and Spanish.


The person I looked up to the most was…

Caroline. [Caroline is a second grader.]


My first job was…

Table cleaner.


The most important lesson I ever learned was…



The best advice anyone ever gave me…

You should always look both sides.


Some of my goals were…

Do a good job.

What I consider romantic…

Always make friends. [She asked me what “romantic” meant. I told her it meant what you like to do.]


How our family began…

I was born in my mommy’s tummy then my brother came along then my sister came long that is why my brother is a little bigger than my sister.


When I saw you for the first time…

I was so happy and surprised.


As a new mom, my biggest fear was…

Take care of my children.


After you were born, my life changed in lots of ways like…

Getting older.


When you were a child, a typical day was…

Getting born.


You remind me of myself when…

I was a baby.


The best advice to share about being a mother is…



Inside my handbag, you’ll always find…

My life.


A family recipe I cherish…

We have Thanksgiving.


My idea of a perfect day is…



A pet peeve of mine is…



My wish for you in life…

Because I have someone to love.


This was first published on Appleseeds blog


Posted in Family Life, Humor, It's All About Me, New York City Living and Coping, Parenting Moments | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

When the Mask Falls Off

Last night, I received an email, and then a note outside my apartment door. Each made me a little weepy and a whole lot grateful to know even in the ugliest moments when all the masks come off, I am not alone.

But I will back up to yesterday morning.

My son, Henry, has a double ear infection and has to take antibiotics for the next two weeks. We were on day two; the night before had been a bought of screaming, begging, threatening, promising, crying, cursing, and finally my wrestling him to the ground and squirting the chalky pineapple-ish liquid through his clenched teeth. My apartment floors, rugs, and walls are covered in hardened white spots like a post-modern painting gone wrong.

Yesterday morning’s dose was not any better. And my husband and I were trying, at the same time, to get the three kids ready for school. When I say we were a mess, I am leaving out the animal sounds, the throwing of toys, and my husband calling me “demonic.” A “mess” would have been way preferable to what we were.

Finally, bit by bit, Henry downed his tiny dosage and I wiped off all the excess from his hair, face, hands, and feet.

We grabbed backpacks, tossed shoes into the hallway, and the five of us were on our way to school.

When we got into the elevator, I pressed the button for the lobby floor, and—of course—Henry freaked out. I will never learn. Henry grabbed his glasses off his head, screamed at the top of his lungs, and snapped his frames so that one of the lenses fell to the elevator floor.

There were two other families on the elevator with us. My family already looked as if we’d traveled 48 hours without rest or water to make it onto that elevator.

I had not one thought or ounce of self control left.

“DAMMIT!” I screamed when I saw Henry had broken his glasses.

There were three children who were not mine in the elevator, along with the three that are, and two other mothers, neither of whom I know well.

I spent the day—even though that is far from the worst thing I have said in public or private in front of children—feeling ashamed. As a mother of three who spends a great deal of time alone with my children, shame, guilt, and regret are not unfamiliar to me. But it isn’t often I have to apologize to children other than my own for losing my barely-cool-to-begin-with.

When we were back in our apartment in the evening, after another dose was fought over, covering me, and finally in Henry’s stomach, I sent an email to one of the mothers. I left a note outside the other mother’s door. I apologized to both and to their children for getting upset and using that word (which is not such a big deal in my apartment obviously, but I imagine other people are teaching their kids better values) in front of their children.

The one mother emailed back to tell me not to worry about it, of course. The other left a note of understanding and empathy. Both told me I wasn’t alone.

Motherhood creates wells of vulnerability. At least it has for me. I am often not the person or mother I want to be in a given moment. Sometimes I can’t even pretend to be nice or patient or normal. There is nothing more human or merciful than to see the worst in another person and to be able to say, “You’re okay.” Even or especially when the behavior was not; I wish I hadn’t screamed in the elevator. I wish I wouldn’t yell the way I do at my kids a lot of the time. Perhaps there are things you do that you that feel horrible about, and are working to change. Maybe you are embarrassed, like me, when your mask falls off. If we can remove the shame from the behaviors we need to fix, and know that people are supporting and standing with us, it is much easier to move forward and show our faces.

This post originally appeared on Appleseeds blog.

Posted in Family Life, It's All About Me, Mental health, New York City Living and Coping, Parenting Moments | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments


(The following in italics is from a memoir project.)

I sit in the kids’ room as they sleep and I think that a bottle of pills and a glass of wine might do the trick. I have plenty of both. But the kids could find me. I could call 911, and unlock the door. Maybe they would get there in time… 

Depression and addiction are terrifying, and hearing of someone’s suicide hits so many of us unwilling warriors in this battle at the bone because we know how the illnesses lie unfailingly and viciously. And the lies they tell–of our worth, our future, our failures, our past–are in our own familiar, trusted voices. Or they are the voices that have resided in our heads so long, we can’t remember when they weren’t there. They sound and feel true. We’re smart; we have no reason to disbelieve.

Just imagine the colossus of pain one would have to be in to leave his or her beloved family. We all love our families. But the lies distract us. The illnesses become stronger over time–as we begin to recognize their subtleties, they are able to morph just enough to fool us again: I thought I was doing better; I really am a horrible, despicable mother. Nothing changed. I’ll never change. I hate my life. The lies don’t announce themselves; they sneak in among our normal thoughts, among our efforts to live in the light. Why can’t I be nicer? What’s wrong with me? Nothing ever works out. They feed on the moments our defenses are weakened by an argument, or a doubt, or perhaps a day with too many clouds, or too much sunshine.

I know only from my experience, and from talking with others, that isolation is what the darkness wants. It wants to get us alone, and, worse, it tells us we want to be alone.

It is a long fight. Its brutality can be measured in years and reappearances: “Unholy ghost,/you are certain to come again,” from Having it Out with Melancholy by Jane Kenyon. If you are fighting, you are brave enough to have looked the darkness down. Do not continue to fight alone.

And many people respond to treatment. Even just enough better for just a little while has often been a victory. And then there are different treatments to try. And others still. For most people, something will work.

I have loved these lines describing a respite from depression, from Jane Kenyon, since I first read her poem twenty-something years ago:

“…and I am overcome/by ordinary contentment.//What hurt me so terribly/all my life until this moment?”

And this is why we beg our friends who are suffering, or seem to be, to get help, to confide in someone, why we push ourselves each day to do the impossible, why we write to unseen strangers–because on the other side, whether it be for a moment or a year or a decade, is the merciful promise of being washed in ordinary contentment.



Posted in addiction, Family Life, It's All About Me, Mental health, New York City Living and Coping, Parenting Moments, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t Say This To My Five Year Old

I have always wanted to write a “What Not to Say” piece–“What Not to Say to Pregnant Women,” “…to New Mothers,” etc. I figured being a mother of twins was my best shot. (I’ve also drafted “10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Fans of the Band Rush.” No one seems interested in this one.)

Who knew that my five-year-old daughter would do most of the work for me, and give me my much-needed blog post.

From her reactions this week, I’ve compiled a list of seven things one is better off not saying to a five-year-old girl. In August. In or near my apartment. You’ve been warned.

Don’t say: “Hi princess!”

Because: Mommy, everyone at camp is calling me a princess! This is the worstest day of my life. (Note: She was wearing a tiara.)


Don’t say: Song lyrics of any kind within one foot of her head.

Because: Mommy, Rider, that little boy in camp, was singing in my FACE! This is the worstest day for me.


Don’t say: “You don’t need to compare drawings with your sister’s. There is no ‘best.’ I love them both.”



Don’t say: “Where’s Ellie?”

Because: Mommy, in computers, the counselor asked ‘where’s Ellie?’ and EVERYONE TURNED AROUND TO LOOK AT ME! This is the worstest day of my life.


Don’t say: “What do you want for lunch tomorrow? Turkey?”

Because: You never listen to me! OOOOH! I can’t take this anymore.


Don’t say: “I think you’re just tired and it’s time for bed.”

Because: You are the worst mother ever and you’re never nice to me! YOU DON’T EVEN LOVE ME! This is the worstest day!


Please don’t say: “Well, tomorrow’s another day!”




This post originally appeared on Appleseeds blog.

Posted in Family Life, Humor, It's All About Me, New York City Living and Coping, Parenting Moments | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

6 Reasons Camp and Math Don’t Mix

1. I have three children in camp this summer. For six weeks each. That costs one million dollars.

2. My children buy lunch every day at camp. We give each child 10 dollars in the morning. Each comes home in the afternoon with 12 to 37 cents.

3. There is a vending machine at camp that takes “I don’t know how much money,” according to my six year old.

4. We go through 15 towels a week for swimming at camp. How many towels do I own? Nine.

5. One of my children is sometimes chosen “Camper of the Day” and gets a prize for being extra nice to everyone that day. I have two other children who spend four hours trying to beat that child up and take his or her prize.

6. We have three weeks of camp left. But five weeks before school starts. That leaves a difference of three months in “I’m-bored-what-are-we-doing-today-can-we-go-someplace-fun-I-want-my-iPad” time.





Posted in Family Life, Humor, New York City Living and Coping, Parenting Moments | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Education of a Vacation

“You’re not getting food until the pillow is back on the couch.” My husband stands at the refrigerator in our beach rental.


My husband looks back at me, working on my laptop in the dining room.

“YOU ARE STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!” We are three weeks into our vacation; this is the third leg, third hotel or house. Everyone is staying up late, watching an endless loop of cartoons, and eating sugar by the pound. My son is brinking on another meltdown, lying on the kitchen floor.

He is probably right—we may be out of our minds for having the kids away from home for this long: two weeks in Florida, one day at home so the oldest could finish first grade, and off to the Hamptons for another week. A sort of madness surrounds us like the constant sunshine.

The whining quickly reached a fever pitch. Too much stimulation, excessive Florida heat, and ubiquitous gift shops turned my children into grabbing, saucer-eyed creatures unable to handle “no” or “not now.” Their capacity to consume is dizzying. And we gave up—but not without many fights.

Before our trip, we gave in to buying the three kids iPad Minis so that they would be entertained at the airport and on the plane, and in the car. We thought we were overindulgent and a bit weak for this, rolling our eyes at our own lack of creative solutions–but we saw the necessity. By the time we left Florida, we had acquired extra luggage just for transporting their new toys, princess shoes, character mugs, and (licensed) stuffed animals.

It is very difficult to know what is too much or why with children. Our “quiet” vacation out east was supposed to be decompression from the energy level of theme parks. And it has been that. Until one morning when we went into town for a little shopping and lunch.

The kids all got something they want or need—mostly want—but by the time we headed back to the car, everyone had a loud complaint about how she got fewer items than he did and he didn’t get the one teddy bear he really wanted and she didn’t get shoes when her sister got shoes. My husband threatened to leave them all on the South Fork while we drove back to the city.

I say it is difficult to know what or why is too much because even though my husband and I were horrified at their behavior—which we called “bratty” to their faces—within five minutes in the car they were all asleep, and it was clear how overtired each was.

Even I have reached my limit and miss more familiar surroundings and the comfort of my own things. I don’t know how to use this coffee machine correctly, and my cell phone doesn’t work here. I’ve been grumpy all day this last day, nagging my husband to get out of the hot tub, and complaining about the kids making crumbs and too much noise outside. Outside.

It’s a tremendous undertaking to ask small children to adjust to travel without a few bumps or fits of outrage. It’s unreasonable to expect them to fully understand and always remember their good fortune in being able to vacation at all. It’s even sillier to ask them to do something of which we grownups are incapable.


This was originally published on Appleseeds blog.


Posted in Family Life, It's All About Me, Mental health, New York City Living and Coping, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments