When I moved to a new city with my family and my kids started school, I found myself immersed in a whole new gang of friends. These weren’t my old best friends from high school and college though we still stayed close. These were a whole new breed of friends—the mom friends.

At first glance, it was an intimidating mix of volunteers and helicopter parents. They were the women pulling out snacks and water bottles, Band-Aids and sunscreen at the park when I had nothing but an empty bag. They were the ones signing up for room mom and the PTA. As a group, they seemed intense and impressive, perfect and organized.

But on second glance, they’re just regular women doing the best they can to raise their children, just like me. Maybe they’ve learned a few things along the way. 

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My first mom friends were the preschool mom friends. We did a lot of growing together. We talked potty training, preschool drop-off drama, bedtimes, and dinner disasters. It grew from there. Do we want more kids? Where do we belong in the world now that we’ve given up our careers to stay home? And for the working moms, how do you balance your job and the intensity of parenting?

This unexpected deep bond came at the exact right moment.

As we were wobbling our ways through the difficult ages of three and four, we found support where we needed it most. Though none of us had been looking for more friends, that’s exactly what we found. Except when preschool ended, we were thrown back to the wolves. Our preschool kids all went to different elementary schools, and we had to start over again.

And that’s where I found my tribe. The ones who understood EXACTLY what I was going through because we were all going through it together. We had the same teachers, spent every Saturday at soccer together, and had the same exact schedules. Playdates became a lot easier when the kids could just ride home together on the bus. 

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We talked before and after assemblies and curriculum night. We went to the back-to-school carnivals and end-of-the-year picnics. The kids would run off to play, and we were forced to talk, and then we realized how much we liked each other. Our shared trajectory helped us realize our commonality. Our kids became friends. And so did our husbands. Group playdates turned into ladies’ nights, which turned into couples’ nights.

We were there for carpools and last-minute saving. We helped out on those mornings when someone woke up sick and we couldn’t get our oldest to practice. We dropped off Popsicles when someone had the stomach bug. We debated pediatricians, teachers, summer camps, and cell phones. We all realized the first day of school is actually a mom holiday. We celebrated with champagne and first day of school pictures.

And when I went into labor at 10 p.m. with my third, it wasn’t my oldest and dearest friend who I called (because she was 800 miles away), it was my new, superhero mommy friend who was across the street and totally capable of getting my kids to school because hers were going the same place.

Mom friends are very special people.

They don’t know your history if you don’t want to share it with them. They don’t know what you did before you showed up at kindergarten orientation with a 5-year-old and two other babies. As far as they know, you’ve always been a mom driving carpool, focused on homework and sports running smoothly, armed with your never-ending supply of snacks and a first aid kit. They do know who you are now and where you’re headed—because their minivans are headed the same direction.

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Caroline Murray

Caroline is a freelance writer, mama to two young children and one sweet baby.  She loves everything country and tries not to take anything too seriously.  You can see more of her at www.the-othermom.com.