Secret Moms Club

By Shannon E. Franklin

When my son was around eight weeks old, I had to go to a site visit and committee meeting for an event in which I was volunteering. It was the first time I’d left the house without my baby, but it was also the first time I realized the significance (or the existence) of the “mom” community.

Some of the women on the committee had recently worked with my partner, and they had heard all about our new baby. They asked about him, and cooed and giggled and gushed over his photos. He’s pretty much the cutest baby ever, so I expected this kind of reaction, but I was not prepared for how sweet, caring and concerned they were toward me.

“You’re doing great!”

“Good job, mama!”

“It gets better!”

They cheered me on as I smiled incredulously.

Another woman who I perceived as a little cold at our first introduction warmed up. “You’re a mom?” she asked, suddenly showing interest and smiling. She started to tell me about her 9-year-old and how much she missed his days as an infant.

As we got ready to part, the whole group chatted casually about our availability over the upcoming months. Two women, decked out in athleisure and baseball caps, let us know that contacting one of them was like reaching out to both of them, that they would split work between them because they were close friends but more importantly, super-busy because –– they looked at each other, faces beaming as they said proudly –– “we’re moms.”

‘Wow wow wow,’ I thought. I had received many phone calls and texts congratulating us on our new addition and welcoming me to motherhood, but I had no idea that I had just been granted instant entry into a special club where the only requirement for entry was a child. I knew that motherhood was personally meaningful, but I hadn’t really considered its value in the broader context of society.

Motherhood changed me, suddenly and unexpectedly, beyond everything obvious that comes from being responsible for a new human life.

After all, women get mixed messages about motherhood all the time, starting from before the child is even born. Pregnancy –– depending on your age, ethnicity and status –– isn’t always celebrated. Prenatal care can be laughable, and once you have the baby, maternity leave in the US is a joke unless you work for an amazing company.

If you don’t have the desire to be a mom, there’s something wrong with you. If you want kids but don’t or can’t have them for whatever reason, there’s something wrong with you. If you work and have kids, you better be ready to give up your career. If you stay at home with your kids, why aren’t you aspiring to do more?

Motherhood changed me, suddenly and unexpectedly, beyond everything obvious that comes from being responsible for a new human life.

Waking up in the middle of the night for feedings, plodding through the work day but barely making it through my exhaustion while still trying to fulfill my other household responsibilities? Hard. Maintain a relationship with a partner? How do I even do that?

I felt lonely and isolated, and being away from all my family and friends, I found myself craving connection in a way I never have before.

I’ve never wanted my own mommy as an adult more than I have in the past year since my son was born. I needed the support, but I also wanted the company and the comfort of someone who’d done it all before.

But then something wonderful happened.

A new level of friendship opened with my close friends who had become moms before me because of this new, shared thing we have in common.

And then I started becoming more outgoing, reaching out to strangers on Instagram, asking questions, offering advice, attending meet-ups, just because our kids are the same age or we’re experiencing the same issue at the moment. I joined a local moms group on Facebook and signed up for meet-ups through another social site.

As someone who’s always been kind of a loner, I have to admit that I am enjoying this newfound sense of community and connection.

Recently I noticed my son’s classmate sitting outside of a restaurant with his mom, whom I’d never met. I started to walk toward my car, but then I turned around, walked up and introduced myself.

“Hi, I’m ‘S’’s mom. He and ‘A’ love each other!”

She instantly broke into a smile. “Oh, yes, they do! I’m so glad you came to introduce yourself! We have lunch here every Friday.”

She shared how they’d just moved from the town she grew up in and was looking to meet friends and make connections.

“Maybe next week we can join you?” I asked.

She looked relieved. “I would really love that.”

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