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The Moms We Meet and Why They Matter

When I was expecting my first baby, my husband developed a funny habit. If we passed another pregnant woman—on the street, in a coffee shop, at the movies—he'd give me a nudge with his elbow and ask, "Do you know her?"

I'd pretend to roll my eyes in annoyance, then laugh and say, "This is how I know you're ready to be a dad: That's an awful joke."

Getting pregnant is like buying a new car. As soon as you decide to go for it, you notice bumps and babies everywhere. And once you're a mom, you become a magnet for other moms. You'll meet them at the park, the doctor's office, and all places in between. If you're like me, you'll find yourself asking and answering questions about topics you never imagined you'd discuss with strangers.

That's what I love about the moms I meet. A simple interaction in the morning can energize me for time with my toddler in the afternoon. Meeting other moms allows me to learn, grow, encourage, and be encouraged. So I'm always on the lookout for these types of moms as I go about my day with my toddler in tow:

1. The experienced mom

This is the gal with kids of any age, as long as they're older than mine. I'm not picky, okay? I'll gather advice on potty training from the mama of a 3-year old and perspective on big-picture stuff from the one with young teens. If you're an experienced parent, I want to know what you know, and after observing you and your kids, I might just do what you do.

2. The new mom

New motherhood is a great equalizer. There's something about the tired eyes of a woman holding a months-old baby that warms my heart. Because I remember. When I meet a new mom, I instantly want to do three things: 1) gush over her baby; 2) ask—without condescension or smirk—how it's going; and 3) tell her just how much better it gets.

3. The working mom

This lady is a beast of a woman, is she not? I worked full-time until my son turned 18 months old, and while I'm grateful to now write as a freelancer, I gotta say it's the working ones who often inspire me most. I love the unabashed drive and the feeling that it's okay to do something that's just for you. And I'm reminded that my time home is temporary. Soon enough, I plan to rejoin their ranks. In the meantime? I'll join a gym.

4. The stay-at-home mom

Nearly a year in, and I'm still getting the hang of this hang-all-day with my kid thing. So when I meet another at-homer, I'm all ears. What do you do? Where do you go? When can we get together again? In this way, I'm realizing very slowly that we moms need a village. And those midday park moms regularly show me one thing: how to be bold in building relationships.

5. The mom who disagrees with my parenting views

When it comes to the big issues of motherhood, this is how I roll: the questions of breast or bottle; cry-it-out or co-sleep; and positive reinforcement or strict discipline were easy for me to answer. But I tend to keep my opinions to myself. So it can be a tad unnerving to land in a conversation with a mama who—without knowing it—totally and fearlessly disagrees with me. Still, my takeaway from every encounter like this is the same. Grace. Grace for her, grace for me. A little more patience with my son. A bit more open-mindedness and the feeling that maybe, just maybe, I might learn something new. And usually, I do.