Thursday, May 5, 2011

Making Mommy Friends

It's no secret that being a stay-at-home mom can be an incredibly isolating experience.  I traded in a life and career outside my home for one spent almost entirely within it.  But I didn't think about any of that at the outset.  In my ignorance I actually thought I would be that super-cute momma meeting her many cute-momma friends at the playground every day.  The one with the designer jeans and the rockin' body from all that free time spent at the gym.  (Note: the truth is not so cute. First of all, when you don’t work, you don’t have money. Hence, no designer jeans. Or any clothes that haven’t been spit on, pooped on, or bled on. I have actually worn stained clothing in the vain hope that people who notice will assume the stain happened that morning, not two weeks ago. Another truth: when you stay at home, you don’t have “free time.” You might even forget what free time is. In fact, all your time is spent caring for a tiny, screaming person who just wants to spend all his free time making your nipples hurt.)
One more truth of staying at home: it is hard to make friends. For me, it only happened after my baby turned six months old and we moved from our uptown condo to our house in the ‘burbs. For the first six months of my baby’s life I paced my 1,100 square feet and lived for the hour when he would sleep and I could watch reruns of “Will and Grace.”
But even in a family-oriented neighborhood I had trouble making friends. I definitely have had a few rough experiences with moms who came over to play, said they’d call me “next week” to play again, and then promptly fell off the edge of the planet. I just kept thinking, “What is wrong with me? Did I say the wrong thing? Am I stinky or something?” It feels like dating, and I thought I was done with that. Then there are the cliques, and that’s another thing I was over like 15 years ago. I spent some time when my oldest was just toddling at Tiny Gym (not its real name). And, while a lot of women there were sweeties, others couldn’t even spare you a look, so busy were they chatting up their friends. In the span of a year I went from knowing hundreds of people in my line of work to knowing almost no one, even when I was surrounded by other moms! I’ll admit, I had a bit of a self-confidence crisis for a while there and felt like staying at home was clearly not for me.
But here I am, four years later, and happy to report that it gets better. We started preschool, and that has made a world of difference–you have a built-in peer group of children…with moms to match! And one of my bestest buddies came from…you guessed it…”Tiny Gym.” Turns out, I had to meet the right people, but I also had to put out “available for friendship” signals too. Again, sadly, just like dating.
At some point I also took a hard look at myself, and realized I haven’t consistently been the best friend in the world either. I have failed to call moms back, failed to get back to people about playdates in a timely way too. Turns out, it wasn’t about that other mom at all (and none of them were even a little bit stinky). It was about being a busy and scatter-brained new mommy. Someone who is busy adopting a new identity and maybe making a few mistakes along the way. Someone who, like all of us, needs a friend or two.

This post was originally published at Mom Favorites!  Click through to check out more thoughts from other moms.


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