Once you become a parent, the world no longer revolves around you—and rightfully so. Your kiddo needs to be fed, bathed, clothed, snuggled, and loved. There are first steps (and first falls) to record, words to teach, scrapes to kiss, and stories to read. The list is endless. And that’s all the more reason that you shouldn’t have to go through motherhood alone.
“Friendship is key to all women, especially once you become a mom,” explains Nora de Hoyos Comstock, Ph.D., an American of Mexican heritage and the founder of Las Comadres Para las Americas, a social networking group for Latinas. “While you’re raising a family, you need friends you can talk to and count on and who’ll also tell you when you’re going in the wrong direction,” says Dr. Comstock, who wrote Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships.
It can be tough to find mom friends you connect with and who understand you, especially when there’s less time and energy to devote to them. But, as Bricia Lopez, a restaurateur in L.A., has found, it can be done. Over the years, she’s amassed a tight-knit group of amigas.
They have their own parenting styles, kids who vary in age from 1 to 22 years old, and different careers. Still, when they randomly met, they clicked. “They’re all women I want to be like and who inspire me,” says Bricia. “Something about each of them feeds me emotionally and spiritually.”
We can all learn from the rules of friendship her mom squad lives by.
Bricia and her friends have similar backgrounds—each is Latina, and they are daughters of hardworking immigrants from Mexico who came to America in search of a better life. (And of course, motherhood is a common bond too.) But it’s really their differences that the women cherish.
Linda Garcia, a publicist, is “a spiritual person, who does what her intuition says,” explains Bricia. Patty Rodriguez, a senior producer for Ryan Seacrest, is passionate about current events. Writer Betsy Aimee Cardenas, is “the color-coder and organizer.” And Bricia’s sister and business partner, Paulina Lopez-Velasquez, goes with the flow.
Bricia herself is known as an expert on pretty much everything. “If I say, ‘I’m pregnant and my legs hurt,’ ” notes Paulina, “Bricia will Google it and tell me what’s going on. She’ll go deep when she wants to know something.”
Therein lies the solid foundation for their friendship: “We each have a very different approach to life, which helps us grow,” Paulina says. And because everyone brings something valuable to the table, “it’s like having my own advisory board,” she adds. “These women have my back.”
You don’t need to meet in person to stay close. Although all the women live within half an hour of one another in L.A., each has a unique—and hectic—schedule. “If we want to see one another, we have to plan it out weeks, even months, in advance,” Bricia says. A get-together is often dinner at a nice restaurant, but sometimes that falls through at the last minute. (And when it does, it’s no big deal.)
In between their infrequent in-person meet-ups, the squad keeps in touch with emails and occasional phone calls, but their favorite way to communicate, by far, is group texts. While there’s plenty on expected mom topics such as favorite baby shampoos, remedies for cracked nipples, and potty training, they also share book recommendations, news bites, business advice, and inspirational quotes (not to mention weighing in on Chrissy Teigen’s latest outfit). “Technology is indispensable to our friendship,” Bricia says. “As a mom, sometimes you don’t have the time to talk on the phone or even a free hand to hold it,” she says.
“Know-it-all” isn’t at the top of anyone’s wish list for a friend. If all you needed were instructions on how to do something, look no further than a YouTube video. A richer commodity in a pal? Emotional support. Only your girls IRL can talk you through a rough patch.
A few months ago, Patty started panicking before a talk she was going to give to over 200 women. “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it,” she says. “I called Linda and she told me, ‘Don’t worry, you’ve got this. You were born to do this!’ ”
It was just what Patty needed to hear. She got on stage and killed it. “I didn’t need to know ‘how’ to give my speech,” she explains, “just the reassurance that I could.”
That wish for support doesn’t apply only to the women’s careers, but also to how they parent. When Linda got swept up in planning a big blowout for her son’s first birthday, Bricia calmly reminded her that whatever activities and guests she decided on would be great. This encouragement came even though Bricia doesn’t believe in birthday parties and has yet to throw one for her son.
“We understand what’s important to one another and don’t impose our opinions,” Bricia says. “Just because I do something doesn’t mean that everyone else should do it too.”
Every mom knows what she’s doing wrong—whether it’s parenting too much or too little. And when those moments of self-doubt arise, it can feel as if all eyes—and opinions—are on you. “Motherhood can be a really lonely place,” admits Paulina. “It’s easy to feel judged all the time.”
With that in mind, a hard-and-fast rule of this mami squad is “never talk bad about another person.” In short: Even if you disagree with something your friend did (or didn’t do), you respect her enough to not churn it into gossip.
For instance, Bricia recently encouraged Linda to go away for a long-overdue romantic night with her partner. Linda agreed, but when the time came to leave her 1-year-old in the care of her mother-in-law, she just couldn’t do it. “He nurses five times in a night, doesn’t take a bottle, and refuses breast milk through a sippy cup,” she says. “It pained me to think of spending the night away while my son might look for me.”
But instead of chiding Linda’s decision or privately rolling her eyes, Bricia didn’t take it personally. “That’s the point of the squad,” Linda says. “If you find yourselves with a mommy squad that judges you, you’re not really a squad.”
Patty agrees. “We all want to be the best we can—the best mom, the best partner, the best woman. To do that, we have to be kind and support one another.”
Sometimes what our friends need to hear about most isn’t our successes but our struggles. After her first daughter was born, Paulina fell into postpartum depression. Therapy helped, but she couldn’t bring herself to tell her parents she was seeing a therapist. “In their generation, therapy isn’t accepted,” Paulina says. “You go only if you’re crazy.” Needing to talk about it with someone, she confided in Betsy, who opened up about her own struggle with depression—and success with therapy. And when Paulina also told Patty how insecure she felt as a mom, Patty confessed, “I’m scared every single day.”
Those candid talks “made me feel normal,” Paulina says. “When they opened up to me, I thought, ‘Okay, I can do this.’ ”
Sometimes when you become a mom, “you only see one another as that,” says Paulina. “It’s hard to move past talking about anything besides your kids.”
The squad has an unspoken understanding that their “personal growth doesn’t stop” because they have children, Betsy says. Thanks to the sacrifices their parents made as immigrants, “we all dream bigger and think bigger—we want to leave a better world for our kids,” she says.
It’s no wonder these women became friends. “They're successful and fearless,” Bricia says. “I look at what they’ve achieved—switching careers, launching businesses—and think ‘If she can do it, I can too.’ ”
The lasting connection between them isn’t based on motherhood, adds Linda. “It has to do with who they are as people,” she says. “I’m grateful to have them in my life.”