by Gina Riazi
“She wants company just as much as I do. She will be happy that I’m about to knock on her door and introduce myself.” These are my thoughts as I walk up the hill with my six-week-old snuggled in the baby front pack. I’m not the outgoing type at all. Meeting new people and jumping right into conversations are not easy for me. But I do have one personality trait that is to my advantage—determination. I knew I wanted to be a full-time mother, but I also knew that I couldn’t do it alone. I was not going to make the mistake of allowing myself to become isolated. Deep within, I felt a need for friendship with other mothers.
The walk to this woman’s house is only one block from mine, but I need to repeat my mantra many times to make it all the way there—she’s tired, lonely and wants to talk about her baby just as much as I do. I am nervous. I don’t knock on the doors of strangers just to say hi.
As a young girl, I refused to sell Girl Scout cookies because I was fearful of talking to strangers. I barely made any money delivering newspapers as a teenager because I hated going from door to door to collect the payments. But here I am, on my way to knock on the door of a complete stranger to say hello because we shared something new, something precious and something only we could understand—newborn babies.
I had seen her while taking a walk through the neighborhood with my husband. She and her husband were moving around their car, trying to balance an infant safety seat, diaper bag, stroller and the child. Their newly acquired title of parents was obvious. Her husband spotted us across the street—our newness obvious as well with my baby’s pudgy feet dangling out of the front carrier. “Hey, how old is your baby?” he yelled. “She’s five weeks,” my husband yelled back. “Our boy is about seven weeks,” the other dad proudly responded. We turned the corner and walked home.
I only saw her for a brief moment. We didn’t even speak.I can’t even remember what she looks like and I’m sure she won’t remember our thirty seconds of interaction a week ago, I’m thinking. No! Go away negative thoughts. I repeat the mantra: she’s tired, lonely and wants to talk.
I walk up the steps to her front door. I’m in luck! Her front door is open and I can see the back of her head as she sits on the couch. I cheerfully knock. Oh no! She’s going to hate me! runs through my head as I see what I’ve done. The look on her face and the way she moved made it clear—I’ve awakened her. Great way to start a friendship—wake up the mother of an eight-week-old baby who is finally getting a catnap.
She smiles as she opens the door. A glimmer of hope, I think. Deciding that there is no going back at this point, I stick to the game plan: “Hi, I’m Gina. My husband and I briefly met you and your husband the other day while we were walking by your house. I have a new baby and you have a new baby so I thought you might like to take a walk with me.”
“Oh, I can’t, I have to feed the baby in a few minutes.”
Well, that’s much better than “get lost,” which is what my defeatist side was expecting. We exchange phone numbers and agree to try again soon.
I call Megan a few more times, but we just aren’t able to coordinate our walking and breastfeeding schedules. Meanwhile, I am amazed to find that there are three other mothers on my block with infants. We decide to start a mothers’ group, beginning with lunch at my house. I feel uncertain about whether Megan wants my company, but after a deep breath I call her one more time to invite her to the luncheon. She says that she’d like to come.
Megan and I are not instant best friends, but I like her. After a few weeks of our mothers’ group, we begin to spend more time together. We discover how we share similar personalities, and divergent political views. But as mothers of newborns the basis of our budding friendship easily transcends culture, politics and employment status. Rather it’s the day-to-day reality of our lives—the misery of sleep deprivation and the joy of our babies reaching first-year milestones.
And now, two years later, Megan and I have taken many walks together. We are part of the same playgroup and we babysit each otherπs kids. We work on our scrapbooks, go to moms-night-out dinners, grapple with parenting, and hang out over cups of chocolate chai on a rainy day together. Occasionally we reminisce about the day I knocked on her door. I laugh at how nervous I was. Megan tells me that she was so thankful that I had the nerve to do it. I’m thankful for such a great friend.
© 2012 by Gina Riazi