At about this time last year, there was a near-constant stream of birth and pregnancy announcements in my social circle. I found out I was pregnant with my third baby, just as some of my best friends were starting their own families. Even though I was anxious about the transition from two to three kids, I was very excited to finally get to share in motherhood with my childhood best friends. To be going through the baby phase yet again, but this time right alongside them in their own journeys – well, that was sure to be awesome.
I had dreamed up this idyllic thought that we would be getting together with our little ones whenever everyone was home. We’d be sitting on a big blanket in a park with babies all around and coffee in hand. My bigger kids would be loving on all of the babies and I’d probably have to constantly remind them that they couldn’t kiss other people’s babies without asking. They’d do it anyway, though. We’d be laughing together, sharing in our joys and challenges, and hitting milestones at similar times, just like we did when we were younger. We haven’t had those sorts of shared experiences in a while. This would be so good for our friendship. It would be the normal experience for a mom when her friends become moms, too.
Now we’re here in these weird times, when we refer to normalcy as “the before times.” We all have babies, ranging from newborn to just under a year old. Some of the babies have met each other, but it’s been over Houseparty and Zoom. We’ve caught up a bit over the phone and we have a group text going strong with baby photos and funny little stories about our days, but it’s not the same.
I’m sad for my friends, having these beautiful new babies in their lives, who they can’t share with anyone in a normal way. I so badly wanted to be present for them. I remember wishing I had friends going through it all with me when I had my first baby, and so I wanted to be for them what I couldn’t have at the time. They need their village! Where is the village in a virtual world, though?
In pondering that question, I’m realizing that we’re all sharing a unique experience together that we wouldn’t have shared otherwise. Under normal circumstances, I would be a third time mom celebrating my first time mom friends. We’d have shared experiences, but we would also be seeing them through different lenses. This, though, is something new for all of us. We all have new babies in a very changed world and we’re doing it all together in a virtual space as we socially distance ourselves. That’s kind of neat, actually. If I squint hard enough, I can see the silver linings in this bizarre story of friendship and motherhood during a pandemic.
For one, we’re all sharing in the bittersweet mixed feelings of wanting visitors and wanting to get out in the world, while relishing the fact that our separation means we’re forced to slow down and rest. Without ever openly admitting it, I think we all know that we see each other struggling in ways we can’t fully put into words, but we know that our togetherness is carrying us through.
For another, we’re seeing each other more often than we probably would have. We’re all feeling isolated and taking whatever kind of socializing we can get. So be it if it happens to be this way. The distance between Massachusetts and California doesn’t feel as big as it is when this is how we’re seeing people who live both near and far. With all sorts of organizations now moving their programs online, we’ve also been able to get together in places like my local breastfeeding support group, which wouldn’t have been possible if it only met in person. I suppose, in a way, the village no longer has geographical barriers.
It’s a strange time to have friends joining me in this motherhood journey, most definitely, but those silver linings are definitely there. We’ve found our village, and despite the many miles that separate us, I feel closer to them than ever before.