Not long ago, frustrated that my 3-month-old refused to sleep in his brand-new crib, I posted the following on Facebook: "Patty is wondering why Will hates his crib so very much." Almost instantly, my friend Angela, who had a sleepless 2-month-old of her own at home, sent me several suggestions for getting him to sleep in his crib. One of them actually worked (for a night or two anyway). A few sleep-deprived weeks later, my Facebook status read: "Patty is glad to be home after locking myself and Will out of the house with a dead cell phone." This time, I got some advice from a friend whose son is about a year older than mine: Put a spare key in my diaper bag, as I was bound to lock myself out at least one more time. (Great advice. Maybe I'll actually remember to do that someday soon.)
Having these friends -- one who was going through the same stuff I was and one who had already been through it -- has been a lifesaver to me. I turn to the been-there, done-that gals for parenting advice, my fellow clueless new-mom peers when I need someone to commiserate with, and my pals without kids when I need a night out -- and, let's be real, a cocktail or two. No matter how old our kids are, we moms need our confidantes. These six are lifesavers -- but before you freak out, thinking, "I don't even have six friends," don't worry: One woman might fill several roles, making you one lucky gal.
The Mom in the Same Boat
Why you need her: She gets it. Theresa Heroux of Vernon, NJ, mom of 4-year-old Julia, spends a lot of time with her friend Erin, who's also a single mom. "When my married mom friends want to get together, they don't understand why I can't immediately agree. I have to find a babysitter," she says. "They just don't get it. But Erin does. We always have the kids with us when we get together, and even though it's hectic, it's more relaxed because we don't have to worry about finding, paying, and rushing home to relieve a sitter."
How to keep her: Whether the two of you are stay-at-home moms, working moms, or single moms, try to get some one-on-one time without the kids -- and make it fun, says Amy Kovarick, coauthor of Baby on Board: Becoming a Mother Without Losing Yourself and a mom of four. Yes, you're busy with work, the kids, errands, the house, and other craziness, but the more time away from Chuck E. Cheese, the better. Make a date: You both deserve it -- and probably for the exact same reasons!
The No-Kids Pal
Why you need her: For adult conversation -- and so you can act like you're still cool. "Mother is my favorite role, but not my only one," says Mary Moore of Austin, TX, a stay-at-home mom and an author. "It's so hard to get together with other moms because someone's kid always has to nap or go to school or has some other commitment, and we can never easily agree on a time or place to meet," she says. "With my friends who don't have kids yet, that's not an issue." Another plus: "They're still into the latest restaurants, fashion, and gossip," says Moore. "There are a lot of moms who just say 'Forget it, I'm too crazed,' but that's not me." And perhaps best of all, she adds, "They're a respite from all the mom chatter -- like, say, discussing at length the local preschools years before we need to. My single or non-mom friends are testament that there is life outside of 'cookies versus cupcakes.'"
How to keep her: Put aside all the mommy stuff for an hour or two. Take time to find out what's new with her, and be honest with yourself about her reaction to your kid talk. She may eat up your cute stories -- or she may not be so fascinated by the embarrassing thing your 4-year-old said. As Kovarick puts it, when talking about one of her single friends: "She likes my child and she likes to see him -- kind of like she likes to see my dog." So when the two meet up, they go halfsies. "I send my son to the babysitter for an hour so we can go for a drink at a restaurant," she says, "then it's back to my house -- with my three-year-old running around." Compromise is key, even if your pal adores your kids.