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What I Never Expected About Making Mom Friends

Friday, January 30th, 2015

mom-friendsTwo videos have gone viral this week, and both address basically the same thing: how difficult it can be to find your social footing as a mom.

In one video, two Texas women turned Echosmith’s “Cool Kids” into a parody about feeling excluded or inferior when you’re around other mamas. Sample lyrics: “I see them talking in the car line/ With their J. Crew style./ They all have fancy haircuts/ Haven’t done mine in a while…” In the second video, produced by the formula manufacturer Similac, groups of parents hurl stereotypes, barbed comments and judgments (lots and lots of judgments) at each other. (To wit: “Oh, disposable diapers? Apparently we don’t care about the environment.”)

Sure, the videos are a little over the top—good satire usually is—but I’d be lying if I said they didn’t hit home. Who among us hasn’t felt like the odd mama out at the playground, like the lone soul with the greasy hair, chaotic diaper bag, and fussy baby who still won’t sleep through the night? Who hasn’t felt the burning glare from friends, family, and strangers, all of whom have an opinion about the way we parent and aren’t afraid to tell us? It’s maddening, inescapable, and requires a thicker skin and braver face than we can sometimes summon.

For me, the first year of my son’s life was the toughest. I had decided to quit my job and go freelance so I could be home to raise him, which sounds fine in theory but in reality meant that I had to rebuild my entire day-to-day social circle. And let me tell you, it was tough—and not without its share of pitfalls. Here are the four biggest things that surprised me most about striking up friendships with other parents.

You’ll feel like the new kid. Ready to be whisked back to the dreaded first day at a new school? Just head to the nearest playground and try to break into the crowd of moms who all seem to know each other and have no interest in letting a newcomer into the group. It’s a lot like attempting to befriend the cool crowd, except here the inner circle boasts organic DIY homemade baby food instead of great hair. I was floored at how difficult it was to approach other parents, much less keep them talking for any length of time. And to make matters worse, those early days were exactly when I most needed the adult interaction. After all, I could only have so many one-sided conversations about the weather with my babbling baby.

It’s easier to make friends with people who share your parenting style. Variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to your circle of friends. That is, unless that circle involves parents. Then, chances are you’re going to (unconsciously or not) seek out whomever shares your core values. I discovered that where I stood on issues like sleep training, diet, discipline, and potty training heavily influenced who I hung with at the playground. It wasn’t so much that I liked the group think, but it did help to surround myself with other people who approached parenting the same way I was. I was more comfortable bouncing ideas off of them and picking their brains for solutions that worked with their kid.

You realize how judgy you are. For all the flack we give outsiders for hating on us, I realized that we parents do our fair share of dishing out criticism, too. I’ve caught myself tsk-tsking a dear friend who sometimes lets her toddler guzzle ginger ale straight from a two-liter bottle. Or smirking at the so-called “power moms” who zoom by me with their jogging strollers, Spandex pants, and strapped-on pedometers. Yep, just because you gave birth doesn’t mean you stop having opinions. Of course, on the flip side, raising a child also teaches you every day just how fallible you are—and why you should start cutting other people some slack. As my mom friend Meredith likes to say about questionable choices other parents make, “That’s not my thing, but I’m OK with however you want to roll.”

You’ll divulge a lot to each other. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte may have had their sex talk-fueled brunches, but you haven’t lived until you’ve spent an entire playdate talking about poop. Or spit-up. Or cracked nipples. Parenthood is all-consuming, so naturally when you do find your mom or dad friends, you’re more than eager to discuss all the burning issues of your day. And honestly? It’s weirdly refreshing to be able to throw around words like “diarrhea” or “slimy mucus” and no one bats an eye.

But I want to hear from you: Have you had a tough time making mom friends? What has the experience been like for you? What advice would you give a new mom who’s trying to find her social footing?

They grow up fast — make sure you don’t miss a single moment with our Baby Milestone Tracker.

How to Help Your Baby Be More Social
How to Help Your Baby Be More Social
How to Help Your Baby Be More Social

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up.Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Image of two moms courtesy of Shutterstock

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Blizzard Juno “Birthed” These Babies!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

blizzard-babiesUpdate (1/29/15): Since this writing, dozens more blizzard babies were revealed, including ones in Connecticut.

Babies stop for no one — not even Mother Nature. Two Massachusetts women found that out firsthand when they went into labor smack dab in the middle of Monday’s blizzard, ABC News reports.

In Patricia Strickland’s case, it all started with a joke with a friend: What if I had my twins during the storm? At 35 weeks, it seemed like a bit of a longshot. But one hour later, the Worcester woman was in the throes of contractions (and fighting the urge to push) while an ambulance was on its way. Unfortunately, because all roads were closed to non-emergency traffic, Strickland’s husband had to stay home with their 5-year-old daughter.

If the idea of having twins solo wasn’t bad enough, the “scared” mama’s water broke in the back of the ambulance and, moments later, one of her babies, Gabriel, was born. The moment she arrived at the hospital, she was wheeled into the operating room, where daughter Aliyah was born. Though premature, the kiddos are expected to go home in about 10 days. Which considering how much snow Massachusetts received, might be just enough time for all the roads to be cleared.

At the other end of the state, another mom-to-be was plunged in her own delivery room drama. Just as the power flickered out in Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Danielle Smith went into labor. Luckily, the hospital had back-up juice, and the rest of the delivery went off without a hitch. “[Baby] Cayden was born at the height of the blizzard just after the island had lost power, forcing the hospital to rely on its generator for power,” said hospital spokesman Jason Graziadei. As of this writing, most of Nantucket was still without power, but hopefully it will be restored in time for Danielle and Cayden’s trip home.

Congratulations to these brave mamas!

Tell us: Was your labor relatively smooth, or did you run into any snags?

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up.Follow her on TwitterPinterest, and Google+

Birth Stories:
Birth Stories:
Birth Stories: "My Water Broke..."

Have questions about your baby? We have answers — just check out our comprehensive Baby Q&A.

Image of pregnant woman courtesy of Shutterstock

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Why Ryan Reynolds Is (Almost) the Perfect New Dad

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

ryan-reynoldsHe’s absurdly handsome, was the best thing about Green Lantern, and looks killer in a suit. Is there anything Ryan Reynolds can’t do?

As it turns out, there is: The man can’t breastfeed his baby to save his life.

The new dad — wife Blake Lively gave birth to a daughter over the holidays — jokingly fessed up about his shortcoming while promoting his new movie, Mississippi Grind, at Sundance. “I gotta jump in and do all those sorts of things,” he told People.com. “I mean, I’ve even tried breastfeeding.

“It’s frustrating for the baby and frankly, disturbing for me…not well is the answer,” he quipped.

Obvious supply issues aside, it sounds like the new parents are settling into parenthood quite nicely and Reynolds is (naturally) killing it as a hands-on dad. He called parenthood “amazing” and said their baby had him wrapped around her finger “well before she was even born.” (Well done, kiddo!)

Of course, that doesn’t mean People’s Sexiest Man Alive 2010 has been spared the most classic new parent affliction: sleep deprivation. During the press junket, he spoke in equal measures about his joy over being a new parent and his utter exhaustion after long nights on daddy duty. “It’s amazing how you can be so happy and then so exhausted in the same moment. It’s like cocaine without the dark alleys of shame,” he told USA Today. (P.S. Are you this eloquent when you’re sleep deprived? Yeah, me neither.)

Now it’s your turn: How has your partner taken to parenthood so far?

Find out what big changes are next for your infant by signing up for our Development Tracker.

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Baby Sleep: Get the Facts
Baby Sleep: Get the Facts
Baby Sleep: Get the Facts

Image of Ryan Reynolds courtesy of Shutterstock

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These Photos of #BoltBabies Will Make Your ENTIRE Day

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

bolt-babyNeed a little pick-me-up before you head into the weekend? Look no further than the Twitter feed of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. This week, the fastest man in the world became an accidental viral sensation after retweeting some photos of babies pulling his famous “lightning bolt” pose. Naturally, it didn’t take long before parents began flooding him with pics of their kiddos doing the one-arm-up stance.

Ever the good sport, Bolt has been offering thoughtful commentary on each of them. His words of wisdom have ranged from the ultra flattering (“Epic” and “Future star”) to the gently encouraging (“Practice makes perfect” and “Almost there.. Little more practice.. Lol”).

That last comment was reserved for the photo Jonathan Mulkeen posted of daughter Amelie doing her lightning bolt (pictured at right). While most of us parents bristle when anyone says anything less than complimentary about our babes, it seems criticism is a little easier to swallow when it comes from someone famous. Or is it? Mulkeen told Today.com, “It was great that Bolt took time to respond to the picture, even though he did say that my daughter’s pose could do with a little more practice. I should screen grab Bolt’s tweet and the media coverage it has been getting so that I can show my daughter in years to come — but it would be just my luck that she isn’t into sport whatsoever and her reaction would be, ‘Usain who?’” (Burn!)

Zingers aside, the Olympian’s gig as a one-man judge is winning him a lot of fans — and a ton of attention. News outlets here and around the world are reporting on the phenomenon, and just this morning, the runner declared it the week #BoltBabies. One look at those sweet faces and I couldn’t agree with him more. Now it’s your turn: Have you seen your baby do the lightning bolt? What are some of the crazy poses you’ve seen so far?

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Playing With Baby: Get Moving
Playing With Baby: Get Moving
Playing With Baby: Get Moving

Image of Amelie courtesy of Jonathan Mulkeen via Twitter

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OMG! The New Gerber Baby Is the Cutest Ever

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

I’m a sucker for a sweet face, but I have to be honest, the 2015 Gerber baby winnerclassic Gerber baby always seemed a little too perfect to me. Like one good snuggly hug from me would forever flatten the little curled-up hairs above her ears. Still, when I heard the company named its spokesbaby of 2015, I was eager to see the winner.

Be still my heart!

Meet 7-month-old Grace, from East Petersburg, PA, whose mom, Gabrielle, took this ridiculously cute photo and submitted it for the company’s fifth-annual Photo Search contest. It ended up beating out entries from more than 180,000 other too-cute kiddos. While I can’t imagine choosing just one winner here, I can see why baby Grace won over the judges: The soft downy hair, the sweetest smile imaginable, the adorable rolls here there and everywhere — what’s not to love about this picture? (Gerber’s marketing specialist Cassie Savage chalked up the W to Grace’s “captivating charm [that] stole the judges’ hearts.”)

Even more amazing? This was only the fifth photo Gabrielle had taken of her daughter that day. She explained in a press release, “She must have taken her hands out of her mouth and posed them like that for a split second, because I didn’t even realize how cute she was posing until after I was completely done taking pictures and looking back at what I had just taken!”

As the 2015 spokesbaby, she receives $50,000, a year of Gerber baby food, and the chance to appear in an ad for the company. The cutie is also probably responsible for any spontaneous oohs and aahs you hear today. Congratulations, Grace!

Want to make a record of your baby’s exciting first year? Get the scoop on how to create a memorable baby photo book.

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Playing With Baby: Tummy Time
Playing With Baby: Tummy Time
Playing With Baby: Tummy Time

Image of Grace courtesy of Gerber

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