I was a mom at 23 and most of the moms I knew or saw in my area were either teenagers or women who were in their 30s with careers of their own. I was a young mom. A crazy young mom. Of course I didn’t feel that way when I was 22 and pregnant or 23 with a new baby and walking down the aisles of Target wondering when I would ever make mom friends. Moms like me! I wanted moms who still wanted to talk about celebrity drug use and ex-boyfriends with gaps in employment histories.
I went out one night after finding a moms meet up online. I remember the women were nice, but distant. They had children of various ages. I said some jokes about how my baby would be eating cut up hot dogs from the microwave and give my boobs a rest and one woman shrieked that it was a choking hazard! I could kill my baby! Then another lady announced she was leaking through her shirt and the others cheered and I fudged a reason to leave and never saw those ladies again. I’m sure they went home to their perfect nurseries and with their pilates classes scheduled, thankful they weren’t that dumb girl with her small brain.
So much about parenting is set up to make me feel stupid, I will never know enough. I will never be the expert even though I’ve been a parent for seven years. I will constantly make bad choices. I am putting my kids at risk for a life of crime because they aren’t in a science discovery camp or because I watched way too much Sopranos while they were in utero. What’s done is done!
Now I see women my age range having kids, these women who look like they could have been my classmates, they would have listened to MTV, watched Who’s Afraid of the Dark the same time I did. Now I spot them in Trader Joe’s walking around with newborns and little babies in strollers way fancier than the ancient Graco that has survived abuse so far, including traveling almost 12K miles to Saipan. It’s so old it’s embarrassing, like I picked it up from a homeless person who had previously used it to ferry knotted plastic bags of cat hair and said, hey you want this because he sensed how much I love free stuff so I took it from his hands without any words, the way I pluck the toothpick samples of teriyaki chicken at the mall food court. I know I’m not going to buy the double meat special, but it’s not going to stop me from nodding eagerly as I’m offered a bite.
And all this to say, at whatever age you have kids, don’t be a jerk mom. If you are at a table of other new moms and there’s an obviously nervous one eating all the free chips and salsa and making stupid jokes because she can’t join in the breast feeding talk due to her low supply, laugh at the jokes, ask for more chips and say, even if you don’t fully mean it, “We should have a play date.”