As a first time mom, I have been acutely aware of the “firsts” we’ve experienced: the first time I held Emmy close after delivering her; the first time I heard Emmy laugh; the first time she slept through the night. What has been harder to keep track of have been the “lasts”: the last time Emmy would nap in my arms; the last time she would fit into my favorite pink leopard-print onesie; the last time she would want a bottle in the middle of the night. These moments slip by unnoticed and sometimes weeks will pass before I realize how much things have changed. So, now when I see a “last” coming I can’t help but imbue it with all the bittersweet feelings and nostalgia I haven’t been able to relish for all of the other things…
Emmy and I recently attended our last Mommy and Me class.
When Emmy and I first started making the weekly 30 minute trek from Westchester to Redondo Beach, she was only about 8 or 9 weeks old. Meaning, I had only been a mom for 8 or 9 weeks, and at that point, had only driven my precious cargo within a 2 mile radius of home because anything further than that absolutely filled me with terror. But, with Alex back at work, and how easy it was to hide in the comfort of our home, I knew if I didn’t start getting out more I would turn into a weird hermit mom that never wore real pants, had crazy hair and haunted the aisles of the local supermarkets 6 days a week. So, I signed up for a Mommy and Me class that made the most sense to me time-wise and had the best parking situation (seriously) – which happened to be at Mother Nurture Network in Redondo Beach.
What I didn’t know walking into my first class was how little the next 90 minutes would actually be for the babies. Yes, we sang lots of songs to our babies, we discussed a pre-designated parenting topic, and a penguin-shaped bubble machine made an appearance at the end – but the actual meat of the class was focused on letting each mom share whatever she wanted to with the group. So, as you can imagine, we had a couple of awkward silences in those early sessions together.
For at least the first few weeks of class, I was convinced Emmy and I would do the initial 6 week series and probably not continue with the year-long curriculum. But, the turning point for me came when one mama in our group – Taylor – emailed me out of the blue and invited me out to lunch after class one week. We invited two more moms, Lori and Nikki, to join us as we walked out of class that day. Over an El Torito lunch of salads, we exchanged phone numbers and emails, we talked about who we were pre-babies, and how desperately tired and overwhelmed we were. We also marveled at the fact that we were managing to have lunch in a restaurant with babies in tow. At that moment I understood what Mommy and Me was really about. The next week we invited more moms to join us for lunch after class.
Emmy is 46 weeks old now (aka 10.5 months for those of you that don’t compute the passage of time in weekly increments) and it is hard to believe just how much things have changed. The wonderful, unintended side-effect of pushing ourselves to be out of the house for 3-4 hours once a week was finding out that I knew how to be a mother in more situations than just in the comfort of our home. It also helped me see that Emmy is an incredibly adaptable and resilient baby – despite how protective I can be about her schedule most days. And that 30 minute drive? No longer terror-inducing, just sometimes mildly stressful.
Looking back now, just a few months shy of completing the year-long Mommy and Me curriculum, I don’t know how I would have survived these 10 months of motherhood without the incredible women I’ve met in class. Sure, everyone’s heard the saying, “it takes a village,” but now I understand how that saying manifests itself in real life – it’s having an entire WhatsApp thread of women to turn to in the middle of the afternoon, when I’m home alone and crying after Emmy had an upsetting doctor’s appointment. It’s celebrating victories and milestones together that we never thought we would reach (most recently, it’s babies taking their first steps!). It’s finding opportunities to meet outside of class – whether it’s with our husbands in tow, or without babies and over bottomless mimosas. It’s watching these amazing babies grow and develop side by side.
To my mom tribe – Thank you for helping me thrive in ways I didn’t think I could. You’ve each helped me be a better mother to Emmy, and for that I will always be grateful. We’ll miss seeing you every week, but we know that friendships are not confined to the walls of a classroom. Here’s to many more milestones and victories together.