By Leah Campbell
Your house is a mess, you had an awful day at work, your husband is out of town, and your kids are acting like tiny terrorists. Whom do you call? Well of course, you call on your network of mommy friends.
In fact, nine times out of ten, the best answer here is going to be one of your closest mom friends—preferably one with an understanding husband who will agree to let her come over with a bottle of wine while he stays home with their kids. Because sometimes, what we really need is another woman who understands exactly what we are going through. Someone we can vent to, laugh with, and bounce ideas off of for things like potty training and handling a picky eater.
Your female friendships have always been important to you, but never more so than when you have little ones running around and need that unity of motherhood.
What if you don’t have any mom friends, though? Maybe you are the first in your group of friends to start having kids, or perhaps you’ve recently moved and don’t know anyone nearby. The problem is that unlike college, when you had plenty of time to devote to socializing, making friends after motherhood is much harder. How do you make those connections when your life otherwise seems so ruled by bedtimes and runny noses?
Get Out There
If you want to make some new mom friends, you have to first get out of the house. Mommy and me groups can be a great place to start, and there are usually plenty of options. From music classes to gymnastics, you can find ways to get your kids excited about an activity while also meeting other moms with children who are the same age. Local Meetups are another great idea, and there are often groups dedicated to walking with the kids, hiking, or just starting a book club.
If your kids are a little older, you may want to consider volunteering at the school. This can be a great opportunity for you to meet other like-minded volunteers who have kids in your child’s class.
Meeting other moms is only half the battle. Just as with dating, making new friends requires you to take risks and put yourself out there. You may have to make the first move in asking a potential mom friend to coffee or attempting to organize a play date with your kids. And sometimes, you may have to try more than once in order to facilitate schedules.
This can be scary, and the sad truth is, not every other mom is looking for new friends. So you may find yourself making an effort where no effort is being made in return. But the only way to make new friends is to remember not to take things personally, and to keep trying until you meet someone who seems like they are open to expanding their connections as well.
True friendship goes beyond superficial commonalities like having children in the same class. There is an intimacy involved in creating lasting connections that requires you to dig deeper and really open yourself up, while also spending time learning about who this person is as well. That doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t something you can force. But if you find yourself really enjoying the time you spend talking to another mom at your child’s ballet class, try to make plans outside the class so that you can really get to know each other.
The key is to share pieces of who you are, but to also show a genuine interest in finding out more about her as well. The more we open up to others, the more connected we become. Friendship is a give and take, but it is worth the effort in the long run.
Every once in a while, you may find yourself in a situation where making new friends organically just doesn’t seem to be working. Perhaps you live in a small town where options for new friends are limited. Or maybe you are in the midst of some major life changes that make it difficult for you to commit time to getting to know other people outside your home.
No one ever said that great mom friends have to be women you meet at the park. There are so many mom’s online looking for connections and validation that they are not alone in their experiences. From blogs to social networking sites like SocialJane.com, there are absolutely connections to be made online. And sometimes, those online friendships can be even stronger than the ones you have forged in real life, because they allow you to seek out and connect with women who share similar experiences to you. For instance, if you are going through a divorce and feel alone in your group of happily married friends, there are certainly women online who can share in your grief and help you to realize that you are not the only mom navigating these newly single waters.
No matter what stage of life you are in, those mom friends can be invaluable to helping you not only celebrate the good times, but also work through the bad. We all need that support from time to time, and women who get us and what we are going through. So start taking some risks and reaching out to other potential mom friends. You may be surprised by how many moms are out there hoping to make a new friend as well!