Luckily, upon a baby’s arrival, a new cast of characters enters your life along with him. These women are the other mothers: the mom next door, the mothers at the first playgroup, at the first visit to the pediatrician, during the first foray to the park. These women pushing strollers, chasing toddlers, bearing goldfish crackers – they will be magnets for you.
There will be the mother you met in Lamaze whom you spend New Year’s Eve with when your babies are three weeks old. You will prop your newborns up on the couch cushions like swaddled Cabbage Patch dolls and clink glasses of apple cider with your husbands and discuss breast milk and pooping regularity or lack thereof. You will sit on the floor with these new friends of eight weeks and feel a familiarity not unlike family. This will be the mother who will one day take you out for your birthday every year and have the waiter bring out a cupcake with a lit candle, who will brave your house when you and your entire family are ill, bearing ginger ale and soda crackers, who will encourage you and build you up in exactly the way you don’t even know you need, saying: you can do this, I know you can.
There will be the mom at the new mothers’ support group that you leave hastily from with your squalling four-week old baby. She will come after you as you move toward the door, lugging your diaper bag and your infant car seat, tears threatening to roll down your sleep-deprived face. She will say, wait, it’s OK, they all cry. You don’t have to leave. And even though you do leave, you are grateful to know you are not alone, that someone understands your strange new world.
There will be the mothers who smile at you sympathetically in Target when your child is throwing himself down on the floor over a Power Ranger. There will be countless moms over the years that lend you wipes, an extra snack for your child and a listening ear for you, you who wonders daily if you are any good at this at all. Other mothers quickly become the voice you often need to hear most – on the phone, the email exchange, the Facebook post; they are the ones that say you are doing a great job and I have felt exactly the same way.
Other mothers are the reason why we can breathe easier when we can’t make it to the cookie sale, the field trip, the soccer practice. We know they will be looking out for our kids, the same way that we look out for theirs. These other mothers ultimately become simply mothers, family: rushing in and saving the day, wiping the tears, bringing the meal, driving the carpool, attending the funeral.
Other mothers are the gift you didn’t even know to expect with motherhood, the bonus prize. Thank goodness for all of you.