I lived in a new state of insanity as a new mom. I’ve felt crazy before, but this was on another level. Sleep deprivation combined with so much uncertainty, anxiety, and a responsibility to keep my tiny, perfect human alive left me spinning for the first month or so. I didn’t have time to think about anything else besides my child.
About two months in, I came up for air and the loneliness set in. As any mom might tell you, staying at home with a newborn is a different type of isolation. I craved companionship although I wasn’t technically alone. My husband was working long hours in the building stage of his career. We recently moved to Flagstaff and I didn’t know a lot of people, let alone anyone who had a baby. I wasn’t “working” for the first time since age 16, which felt both nice and disconcerting at the same time. My sense of self and purpose had dramatically shifted. I was terrified.
I wanted Mom friends.
I’ll admit that I’m not the best at initiating friendships. I’ve heard many people say that making Mom friends is more difficult than dating, and I wholeheartedly agree. When I find someone I think I want to be friends with, my childhood shyness rears its ugly head. I find myself ridiculously afraid of rejection (“Should I ask for her number? Is it weird to friend her on Facebook this early?”) and I hope that I didn’t come across as a desperate lunatic.
Although I struggle at times, I’m happy to say that I now have a wonderful, supportive group of friends, perhaps thanks in part to what I’ve learned about Mom friendships along the way:
A Rather Introverted Guide to Initiating and Maintaining “Mom” Friendships:
- Be Open-Minded: High school was simple. I was a dancer and a cheerleader. Most of my friends were dancers and cheerleaders. We shared a love of dance, cheer, and partying with football players. Adult relationships are more complex. Yes, I love reading, Barre 3 and Vanderpump Rules, but I don’t need to find a carbon copy of myself in order to connect. The differing interests of my friends inspire me to try new things and spurs some intriguing conversations.
- Join A Group: Just the thought of a “Mom’s Group” scared me. It sounded torturous and odd to make small talk about diapers or whatever with a group of strangers only thrown together by their ability to procreate. However, when my loneliness overpowered my judgmental attitude, I did some research and joined a local Mom’s group. After the initial awkwardness, it was the best decision I made in the early years of baby and toddlerhood. Those playgroups saved my sanity and introduced me to a fantastic group of women, many of whom are still very much a part of my life.
- Be Optimistic: Flagstaff is a rather transient town. I’ve lost many a good friend to a move to a different city. I talked myself out of getting close to people for fear of losing them. I’ve hesitated to befriend people based on their age or the age of their children (“She’s so young, I probably seem like a dinosaur to her” or “Oh no, her kids are too old to play with mine. We can’t be friends!”) I realize this is self-sabotage. I’ve learned to give people and situations a fighting chance before concocting doom in my head.
- Reciprocity: Obviously, in order to get a good friend, you have to be a good friend. Sometimes life and the needs of family hinders friendship. Play dates get canceled due to sick kids, a traveling husband and no babysitter can be the downfall of a Girl’s Night. However, nothing can break a heart like the realization that a friendship is not reciprocal. I am forever grateful to those friends who have shown me unconditional kindness and who go out of their way to nurture the relationship. I try to reflect that friendship back to them: I show up, I return favors, I introduce them to other moms, I host playdates, I make plans, I make time.
- Hold on to Good Friends: Acquaintances are easy. Good friends are hard to find. I consider mine my family, and I’m never letting them go. I’d find them, anyway. Flagstaff isn’t that big.