In my four-and-a-half years of momming, one of the more difficult aspects of this new season has been the same exact thing that was difficult for me in sixth grade: finding new friends. While I would definitely call myself an extrovert, the vulnerability and anxiety that accompany putting yourself out there on the friend market is not my forte.
It's not that I didn’t have friends before I had children; I did. There were work friends, church friends, and college friends. The common denominator in these groups was the luxury of quantity time which, as life would have it, was not an option for me once my son arrived. Quantity time in this season involved a lot of me sitting on my couch in sweats staring at my baby, lamenting my lack of adult interaction.
Quantity time with any given group of people, be it colleagues, coworkers, or classmates, allows the luxury of weeding out those with which we have fewer affinities; allows the opportunity for the closet conspiracy theorists to accidentally out themselves; allows the capacity to form a lasting friendship without seeming too desperate.
So, with quantity time out the window, I found it was up to me to be proactive and intentional by seeking out quality time and accepting that some of it might be spent with women that may not lead to friendships. It also involved accepting that those hours spent with women that I felt might be wasted were not, in fact, a waste of time but rather an opportunity for me to practice this new and very necessary skill of finding friends and being a good friend. So, dear mothers in need of comradery in the trenches of parenting, here is what I have for you:
- Show up. You will NOT meet someone staying at home. Show up. Go to the baby storytime at the library. Find the local moms group on Facebook and show up at their events.
- Speak up. Be brave. Although I’ve said I’m an extrovert, being the one to say hi, introduce myself, and ask to schedule a play date, is still scary every time. And sometimes it leads to friendships, and sometimes it leads to one play date.
- Open up. Don’t be afraid to be real. You don’t have to put your best self forward. We all just want to feel safe to be ourselves and, sometimes, we have to be the ones to make this possible.