Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me: Finding Your Mom Tribe Is Harder Than Dating

Thirty-something/Female/Palo Alto.
Seeking other amateur, irreverent new mom who walks the line between reading every study about how to develop your newborn's optimal gut flora and just NGAF.
Bonus points if your dog's on Instagram.

"Mom tribe" is this term that people have been using around me ever since I got pregnant. "You'll need a mom tribe," friends would insist. "I'd DIE without my tribe," others would admit.

Your what? Your tribe? Why would I need "other" friends than the ones I already had? Plenty of my pals have kiddos. Granted, they live hundreds if not thousands of miles away, but I didn't see the need in replacing them or shoving them down to the bottom of the list to make space for fresh meat.

I nodded, though, accepting that these people — these experienced moms who had advice to give — knew a thing or two. And if they said I needed a tribe of moms, then I needed to find one. But where?

The hunt started while I was pregnant. I went to local baby stores in my town and asked the cute salesgirls where other moms hung out; I signed up for several prenatal yoga classes (even though I dislike yoga) and lurked after class to see if anyone was, say, taking their sugar test soon and wanted to connect over how gross the drink was. I even posted on the neighborhood social network site Nextdoor, a posting that I nervously edited several times for fear of looking desperate. By the time it went up, I'd whittled it down to essentially nothing: "Mom-to-be here, what's up?" I found no one at the yoga classes, and my Nextdoor message went unanswered.

From there I pushed harder, joining several Facebook mom groups and interacting with other people's postings. Finally, I read that someone was looking for other moms. I screamed at the screen. Me too!

This woman was new to the neighborhood and looking to meet other new moms or moms-to-be. I messaged her, we exchanged surface-level information, and we agreed to meet up. But then, like it happens in the dating world, she canceled on me. Something came up.

The quest continued, forcing me to respond to even more messages. I even joined a mom matchmaking app! Finally, after I had my baby, I found some momentum. A handful of moms who'd recently delivered were meeting for coffee in my neighborhood. I laced up my shoes and went. The experience was a perfect mix of helpful and odd. As a new mom, you're sort of fast-tracked to a level of intimacy that would ordinarily take months to get to. Things got honest very quickly.

I get it now. I get the concept of the mom tribe. These mothers are going through things only I can understand. And because our babies are so close in age, we can talk about the most boring of things, like sleep sacks with Velcro and tummy time. And even if I'm not everything they hoped for in their mom friend, at the very least, I'm in their zip code. So I have that going for me.

But if you're in a similar situation and searching for your group, here's everything I learned, because no one told me it would be this hard.

It's supposed to be awkward.

Just own it. It's basically blind dating.

It's fine if you forget their name . . . or their kid's name.

No matter what you forget about your new friend, you can blame it on the new mom fog (which is very much a real thing).

It's super easy to cancel. So don't.

It's understandable that you might not have had a good night's sleep. You're probably tired. Whatever it is, it's SO easy to cancel, and no one would sympathize more than another new mom. Which is why you have to force yourself to go sometimes. It's worth it.

Offer someone something.

The tribe isn't only about you. I remember the first time a new mom friend offered me an old diaper bag to use on a walk because I didn't have anything to hold my milk bottle in (I'd been sticking them in various pockets like a boss). I was touched because we really didn't know each other. But it meant so much. Weeks later when she mentioned she needed some formula, I rushed to offer to give her extra. It felt rewarding taking a walk to her house and dropping it on her doorstep.

It's OK to talk about nonmom stuff.

You don't have to just talk about poop and pacifiers. Talk about your careers, your families, the weird things people are posting on Nextdoor!

You're not married. You can cheat on your mom tribe if you want.

I have to accept that my mom friends might be cheating on me. At this very moment. I may not fulfill everything they need, and that's perfectly fine. As long as they keep responding to my texts every now and then and are available for stroller walks, I'm just happy to be there.