The 5 Friends All Moms Need

The Rule Breaker

As we become more experienced parents (and sometimes a bit smug in our all-knowingness), we need a mom friend who will confide some wacky, borderline-shocking thing she did with her child (let him eat cookies for breakfast, pee in the bushes, play with -- gasp! -- toy guns). Not only do we gain a sense of perspective from her, we gradually realize that parenting doesn't always have to be done exactly by the book, that a few blips off the chart here and there probably won't cause lasting damage to our children.

When I first met Lisa, her seeming inattention to what I thought were ironclad rules amazed me. She cavalierly bottlefed her baby, even microwaved the bottles! I was such a nursing devotee -- okay, snob -- that I found it hard to believe anyone wouldn't at least try breastfeeding, much less not feel guilty about not doing it. Not only that, but she let her children stay up watching SpongeBob reruns till the ungodly hour of 10 p.m. (actually, they didn't have a bedtime; they just sort of crashed when they were tired). And she sometimes even let the older ones drink Coke.

But guess what? Her three kids were the best-behaved, happiest, healthiest children I have ever encountered --and that includes children from families that got them to bed by 7:30 every night and never let a nonorganic morsel pass their lips. My friendship with Lisa broadened my horizons and let me see firsthand that things aren't always black and white in Mommy Land.

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