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From First-Time Moms to First Mitzvahs

From First-Time Moms to First Mitzvahs

I recently spent the afternoon with my six-year-old at the Central Park Children’s Zoo. He is my bonus suburb baby and the only one of my three children who was neither born in nor lived in Manhattan. As I watched him happily play on the spider web for an hour, I was transported to another lifetime. To my other lifetime. To my previous life as a first-time “girl” mom living in Manhattan.

Who was that person? Who was that young, wrinkle-free  chick who had everything she needed Tetris-ed into the bottom of her stroller, prepared for Armageddon – if it was within walking distance?

I swear, I simply no longer remember her.

I used to live in Manhattan. I used to have a kid in Manhattan. I used to walk with her everywhere in a stroller. We used to go to The Met every weekend, pet animals at The Art Farm, go to classes at Jodi’s Gym, and sing with Miss Terri at Music Together. I used to dress my daughter in (hand me down) pinafores. We intimately knew every park in a forty-block radius. I was even that mom who had three phones going the day after Labor Day to land a coveted application for an interview to apply for a coveted spot in an Upper East Side nursery school (yes, all the stories are true. Yes, it’s that insane).

Where has the time gone? Where have the days gone when my life was just walking to the zoo to sit with a friend while our kids played on this very spider web?

Again, I swear, I simply no longer remember.

Since those priceless moments – that felt long but now I see were short – I have brought two more children into this world, moved to the suburbs, and started a suburban life. It’s a good life, but one could argue it’s like leaving Earth and moving to Mars. Yes, we still go into “the city” all the time but it’s not the same. In fact, every time we “go in”, I am reminded that “the Earth” keeps spinning despite us getting off of it.

So where does this leave me? Well at this moment, it leaves me overly sentimental and wistful as I’m approaching said pinafore-wearing girl child’s Bat Mitzvah… while the goats roll their eyes at me.

I miss the days when we all just had our first kids and met in Central Park. The days of new moms’ groups and looking to make new (geographically desirable) friends. I remember thinking it was like freshman year of college, but instead of comparing dorm room posters and modem speeds, we compared large wheeled urban strollers and diaper bags.

We nursed together in the park wearing hooter hiders, or just gave up and embraced it feeling like naughty nudists to appease our hysterical babies. We discussed breast milk vs. formula and homemade baby food vs. jarred food. What is BPA? I don’t know, but I’m told it’s bad…

We walked up and down the Esplanade so our babies would fall asleep praying for the smallest moment of peace in our day or just one simple second so we could go to the bathroom. We thanked our doormen for opening our doors and praised restaurants on 2nd Avenue for outdoor seating, a clean highchair, and a kid’s menus. There were hugs and smiles and happiness. There were fat chubby thighs we’d bite, first foods, first words, first steps. There were moms’ nights out discussing parenting styles and potty training and the stress of being a new mom. Slowly, we all gained our footing and our conversations evolved into apartment size constraints, and if it was that bad to have a cup of coffee while pregnant with our second baby since we were so exhausted from also dealing with a toddler.

Naturally, that led to saying goodbye to our wolf pack as families organically moved to Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, or farther away. These women were my support system. These amazing humans were my newest and yet my closest friends at a time when my world was turned upside down. The upside down only a new mom understands when you’re given this charge, and yet no manual. What would I have done without these women, my first-time mom friends? My g-d – what would I have done without them (I’m not crying, you’re crying).

We have shared in each other’s triumphs, moves, family expansions, and more since the beginning of our becoming families. We’ve shared over a decade of Time-Hops on Facebook of Halloween pictures and park playdates. We’ve commented on the size of said babies now with whom we sang The Hello song for nine semesters. We all still look the same (minus wrinkles and grey hair) but these fat little babies have grown up.

It means the world to me that I am still in touch with so many of these moms whom I consider “being in the trenches with” a lifetime ago. The moms whose shoulders I cried on and who cried on mine as we discussed when our babies would sleep through the night or when teething would end. Every little thing seemed so big back then – because it was to us.

But we are no longer pushing each other’s babies on swings. We are now dancing at their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

What a gift to have friends like this where thirteen years have gone by, and we’ve watched each other’s beautiful children grow up. We’ve watched them grow into big versions of the little babies they once were. These friends whom I used to sit with on this exact bench at the Central Park Zoo – while our babies played on the very same spider web as my son, a lifetime later.

Stacey Wallenstein is the founder of the parenting & lifestyle blog The Mint Chip Mama. Visit her website at and find her across all socials at @themintchipmama

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