I have never been good at making friends. Ever since I was a little girl, I have found it extremely difficult to do the normal things that people do to talk to people I don’t know, much less try to form a friendship with a perfect stranger. I am, and always have been, a 100% solid introvert. Those who know me now may be shocked by this because I don’t really seem like an introvert. I admit, in recent years I have found it easier to make a connection with people and I attribute that to two things: the first is becoming a lawyer and the second is becoming a mom.
Most (not all, but a great majority) lawyers are pretty much required to mix and mingle on a regular basis as part of their jobs. It’s called “networking” and it’s usually at bars or restaurants with lots of drinks and lots of boring legal conversation. When I was starting out as a “baby lawyer” I had to learn real fast how to play this networking game or I was going to be eaten alive. So, I pretty much “faked it until I made it.” I became an excellent actress playing the part of a cute little associate chatting and laughing and acting interested in the topic of the hour when what I really wanted was to be home in my PJ’s watching a movie or reading a book. Funny thing was, though, the more I pretended to be good at the networking game, the better I truly got. It got easier for me to introduce myself and find something to talk about. I still wasn’t very comfortable doing it, but it was a bit easier. However, as good as I was getting with the act of connecting with colleagues, I still was not really making friends, just acquaintances.
When I had my first baby and became a stay-at-home-mom, I hit a wall of loneliness after about 8 weeks of having zero adult conversation throughout the day and never going anywhere because my baby hated the car more than anything else. I desperately needed to find people I could connect with in order to save my sanity. My wonderful doula suggested that I meet up with a group of girls who called themselves the Booby Buddies (a bunch of breastfeeding mamas offering each other support). Feeling really awkward, I timidly contacted one of the girls in the group and she promptly invited me over for a play date. At first I almost said no because what person takes their 8 week old infant to a play date? But I was desperate to get out and connect and feel like the old me again so I packed up my car-hating kid and high tailed it to my very first play date.
Y’all. It may sound silly, but that play date saved my life. My new friend, Megan, welcomed me into her home like we were the oldest of friends and all the rest of the girls were so warm and friendly. I came back week after week and within two months time I felt like I had found something I had been looking for my whole life.
I found my tribe.
I found my people. I found the friends I had been looking for my whole life. People I could truly connect with, share my heart with, voice my fears and concerns and doubts to without being judged. These girls were the glue that kept me from falling apart that first year of my daughter’s life.
And then we had to move. Not just to another house a few blocks away. No, we had to move 300 miles away to a place where I knew not a soul. I was devestated.
Isn’t that just how God works, though? The minute you get comfortable in your new life or new routine or you finally find a rhythm, God up and changes the scenery on you. I was so mad at Him for a while there. But I prayed and asked that he would give me peace and change my heart about leaving all my friends and everything I knew and loved in the place that I had called home for so very long.
He is faithful, y’all. He did change my heart. He allowed me to see our move as a new adventure. The beginning of a new chapter in my life, if you will. He gave me the peace I needed to get through the process of leaving my old life. But He also revealed something to me. It took me a while to realize what He wanted from me, but slowly I understood.
This time, I needed to be the one to seek out friends and invite them in. I was no longer a brand new mom with barely enough brain power to make a pot of coffee in the morning. My daughter was just over a year old, I was more confident in my mommyhood and I was also more confident in just getting out there and talking to people. My tribe had taught me that. This time, I needed to be the “Megan” to some other lost and lonely new mommies who might be having a hard time connecting with their own tribe.
So that became my mission once we arrived here in Houston. The first thing I did was reach out to mommy-related organizations and churches in the area to begin finding a new place to call home. It didn’t take me long to start connecting and building a network here and any time I met a new mom who looked like she needed a friend, I did my utmost to channel my inner “Megan” and just reach out with open arms. Since moving here a year and a half ago, I have found my new tribe and they are just as wonderful as the amazing girls I had to leave behind. In fact, I wouldn’t even say I lost my old tribe…we are still close friends, we just have to keep in touch in different ways these days.
Mamas, I can’t stress to you how important it is to find your tribe. It can be (as was for me) a lifesaver, especially in those hard days of motherhood. We were not meant to do this mothering thing alone. You know that old saying “it takes a village to raise a child”? There’s so much truth in that! I know how hard finding friends can be, especially when you have one or several little ones that need so much attention. But there are ways, and resources, for helping you find your village. Here are some of the ways I’ve met and connected with some of my tribe members:
- Join a group like MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). This is by far the best way to meet other women in your same season of life. There are groups all around the nation so find one closest to you and check it out!
- Join a life group at church. Often churches will offer Sunday school or small groups geared toward young married couples or new parents.
- Take your kids to a popular playground or splash park in the area. Find other mom’s with kids around your kid’s age and start a conversation.
- Go shopping! I met two great friends while shopping (shout out to Target and HomeGoods!) in the middle of a work day. Go stalk the baby section and look for other frazzled mamas trying to kill time. I promise they’re there.
- Along those same lines, go hit up the mall’s playground in the mid-morning or late afternoon hours. Lots of kiddos there pre- and post-nap!
- Find a local church that has an indoor playground that’s open to the public. Go hang out a few times and start some conversations.
- If you’re still nursing, join a local breastfeeding support group. Even if you don’t have any issues with nursing, I bet you can offer some tips or support to another mama.
Those are just a few ways I’ve had luck meeting some great women who have become a part of my tribe. However you do it, don’t give up in trying to find your tribe. It’s so important not only for your well-being, but also for your kids. They need to see that mommy has friends and they will learn from you how to engage with people! No matter whether you are an extrovert with no problem saying hi to a stranger or an introvert like me who would rather pull out her eyelashes than introduce herself to someone she doesn’t know, the more you practice, the easier it becomes and before you know it, you’ll have at least a handful of new girlfriends you will be happy to call your tribe.
What are some other ways you have found that are good for making new friends as a busy mom?