Finding your Mom Clan
One of the hardest things as an adult, at least for me, is making new friends. People that know me would say I'm a social butterfly and someone who can start up a random conversation with just about anyone, but when it comes to actually becoming lasting friends with someone, how do you go about doing that? I mean, being an adult is not like being a kid on the playground who finds friends by sharing the same interest of rubbing dirt all over the slide and from there, holding hands, running off together like they've known each other for years! If only it were that easy! I think, especially for women whose primary "job" is being a mom, it can feel very isolating and lonely trying to find your clan. Sure, if you're a Facebook junkie like me, you can find all kinds of mom groups online who claim to be non judgmental about whether you breastfeed or not, whether you vaccinate or not, etc....but I've often found those groups already have cliques and it can be hard to feel at home if you're the newbie sometimes. Don't get me wrong; there are plenty of groups that I love and find helpful. I'm not trying to bash any mom groups out there, that's for sure! I'm simply talking to the moms who have tried the groups and playdates and haven't had any luck yet. Believe me, you are not alone!
About 18 months ago I moved an hour and a half away, from one end of Atlanta to the other. I joined a gym near our new house, joined our neighborhood mom group along with some local mom groups. I actively sought out friendly faces at the gym since that's where I spent most of my mornings. I'll be honest and share that I didn't really attend any of the mom group outings because for me, sharing time with other moms while 20 wild toddlers are running around screaming, is not my ideal idea of making new mom friends. The neighborhood group allowed me to make a couple cool friends, but at the gym it seemed like the women all had their little groups formed. Not that they weren't friendly, but it just felt weird trying to slide into the conversations they'd already be having by the time I got into class to set up my equipment.
So I pretty much gave up thinking I might find a gym buddy, until a few weeks ago when I finally saw a new face show up in one of the classes I attend. A young lady came in asking about what equipment to set up, so after class I asked her how she liked it and had a short conversation with her. I saw her a couple times after that and through some small talk, I discovered she had recently moved here, much like me. Finally, one day a few weeks after our first chat, as we were passing on our way in and out of class, I stopped her and asked if she wanted to exchange numbers and hang out sometime. I was really hoping she didn't think that was weird, but I thought "Why not...she seems nice, just moved here and looks like she enjoys the gym as much as I do, so we'll at least have that in common as a starting point." We started texting back and forth that same day and set up a night to have dinner together, a couple weeks out. I thought surely by the time the evening had come that she'd end up bailing, but nope, she actually followed up with me first to confirm a couple days before and then last night we had our dinner. Much to my surprise, it went very well, she was so easy to talk to and we have a lot of similarities! We actually talked about a lot of personal stuff...stuff that I'm surprised didn't scare her off on the first "date"! It was very refreshing opening up about my life and not hiding under "the perfect mom and wife umbrella" that we sometimes feel like we need to hold! After talking for almost 3 hours, the restaurant was closing, so it was time to wrap it up. She asked if I wanted to put another evening on the calendar and I silently applauded that she was a planner just like me (and that I didn't scare her off with all my personal issues)! I went home feeling refreshed, with a smile on my face, knowing I had just added another great person to my mom clan.
The more I interact with other moms, I'm discovering human connection, especially for moms, is so important for our well being. I share this brief story to encourage other moms. Go ahead, step out of your comfort zone and say that first hello! Chances are, the mom you've been watching is also feeling isolated and overwhelmed, just like you and doesn't know how to step out of that box herself. We're all scared of rejection or judgement, but you never know what friendship you might be missing out on by not taking the first step to make that connection.
Moms, I encourage you to be real with the other moms in your life. More likely than not, the other moms around you are dying to share their personal struggles with someone, but don't speak up because they're afraid of losing that "perfect mom" look. Don't be afraid to be the real you...that's how you're going to find your true mom clan. Moms just like you who love their kids like crazy, but aren't afraid to admit when they are feeling defeated with motherhood...Moms like you who struggle with anxiety...Moms like you who are sleep deprived, feel like a mess and wear sweat pants all day...Moms like you who question if they're doing a good job...Moms who simply want other mom friends who understand what they are going through.
Moms, share who you truly are with each other. If we all did this more often, maybe we wouldn't feel so alone in this crazy journey we call motherhood!