Of all the changes that happen when you have a baby (and there are A LOT, like the never-ending stream of mysterious wet spots that regularly appear on you, your baby and your home that you quickly learn to stop questioning in order to preserve your sanity), perhaps one of the biggest is the way it changes your relationship to your partner.
Some of these are good changes. Watching someone you used to do tequila shots with now napping with a newborn on their naked chest brings about such a flood of love hormones that you almost can’t stand it. Which helps when 30 seconds later the baby pukes all over said naked chest and you are always inevitably out of baby wipes and clean burp cloths.
Some of these changes are bad. Trying to have a conversation about money while both of you are going on only two hours of sleep and attempting to talk over a screaming, teething 8-month-old brings a whole new level to the word “patience” and the phrase “not murdering everyone with a hatchet.”
And some are completely unexpected. Take, for instance, the fact that I’ve discovered my husband is an excellent wingman.
Ever since we had our son, he has been chatting up other moms at the park and on the playground and in every child-friendly bar we have circled on a map of the tri-county area. He just swoops in, pure confidence and swagger, asking them all about their kids and what is up with those breast-feeding Nazis shaming poor mothers, the nerve of them, and then just as quickly swoops out while giving me a gentle yet firm push forward so I can continue the conversation and hopefully not ruin all his hard work with my awkward jokes about murdering my whole family with a hatchet.
And I often do ruin all his hard work. Because I am just the worst at first impressions. The worst. I’m awkward and I laugh too loud and I wear scary dark lipstick that makes me look like I’m ready for a vampire rave at any given moment.
Luckily, I am amazing at third impressions. You accidentally run into me a third time, I’m bound to charm you once you realize that all that black eye-liner is just a part of my quirkiness and not because I want to sacrifice your newborn to my coven.
Unluckily, however, I rarely get that chance. And if I do ever get that rare third chance meeting, I always forget to ask for the digits and seal the deal because I was never a horny 19-year-old frat brother. I firmly believe that men and women are equals, but men most definitely have a jumpstart on the whole awkward information exchange follow-through.
But none of this stops my husband. He never gives up, no matter how hopelessly I bungle these situations. Because he knows that deep down, underneath my spectacular ability to either insult the home state of whomever I happen to be talking to (how the hell was I supposed to know she grew up in Utah?) or make fun of moms who name their daughters Chanel to the woman who, as it turns out, named her son Chanel, I need mom friends.
Raising young children is a lonely business. Whether you stay home, or work, or some combination of the two, it’s hard to maintain a social life. And it’s damn near impossible to start one when you didn’t have any friends who were already parents by the time you got knocked up.
Because even if I finally do tentatively befriend another parent that puts up with me and our kids get along and don’t try to kill each other with sticks or whatever else is handy, there’s always differing nap schedules and quick trips to the store that end up taking three hours and someone always has an ear infection because children collect ear infections like old people collect sugar packets.
But just like emergency purse crackers and singing toys that have an off button, having mom friends is vital to your mental health once you spurt out offspring. You need other people in your life as interested as you are in poop frequency and consistency and who can reassure you they too don’t bat an eye when their child dumps all the cheddar goldfish crackers on the dirty playground and proceeds to sit down and eat them all.
Which is why I’m happy to report that all that groundwork he laid is finally paying off. I officially have two numbers and an email address in my phone now. And even after meeting up once or twice, I have yet to alienate and/or terrify any of these women. At least not to the point where they have run off verbally screaming.
But no matter what happens, when a gal has that kind of wingman by her side looking out for her, really, what more could she ask for?