Young doctors and their families live a somewhat nomadic life during the long training period in the first phase of their career. We’ve been lucky and only had to move twice during the past 5 years – once during my husband’s training and then once for him to begin at his attending position. Others in his class had to move across the country for fellowship positions of a year, only to be moving again for their permanent position. This type of frequent moving is quite common among professions and one thing is clear: Moving Sucks.
The most recent move from Minneapolis to Columbus was especially traumatic, as it was after my twins were born and meant saying goodbye to the village of mom friends that I had cultivated. Since moving to this new city last year, I’ve spent less time at HomeGoods finding knick-knacks and more time building my tribe and I’m better off for it. I went from knowing nobody in a new big city to having a great and loving group of friends who give me love and encouragement and allow my kids to become busy and socialized. Here are some lessons that I’ve learned along the way:
Do your research and figure out where the other mommies are. During the month before we moved, I spent hours of nap time researching playgrounds, music classes and other activities to enroll my kids in – partially for their benefit but mostly so that I could go find other mommies. It took effort to get out of the house every day but it was worth it for me to become acclimated in the new community and meet new people.
It’s pretty easy to spot a potential mom friend target: she’s the one clutching on to her Starbucks while being pulled by a toddler and wearing a baby. Sometimes you find these targets at children-centric events like music class, but you are just as likely to run into them at Target or the grocery store. While shyness and etiquette might compel you to merely smile and walk by, resist the urge and break out of your shell and reach out. Strike up a conversation with an “oh; I’ve been there” or even tell a visibly exhausted momma that she is doing a great job. Chances are you are both stuck wherever you are for the next 15-20 minutes – long enough to determine if you are compatible mom friends. If you find somebody that you want to hang out with, get out your phone and connect with them immediately, whether it be through Facebook, Snapchat or old fashioned text message.
Don’t sugar coat your life while getting to know another potential mom friend. People want to be friends with real people – not Pinterest robots. So many women are afraid to host a play date because their house isn’t 100% put together, but toddlers can have a lot of fun with a bunch of empty moving boxes and fruit snacks. Open up your doors and let go of preconceived notions of “hosting”.
More importantly, recognize that we all have struggles in our lives that are made easier by venting to a good friend. Tell your potential mom friend about these issues. By opening up about your own stuff, you signal to your new mom friend that you are there to listen to what’s going on in her life and lend support. Misery loves company, and the misery of a toddler rearing or newborn sleep deprivation is no exception.
This was the hardest one for me, but the most rewarding. When you are suffering (and we all suffer from time to time) let your new friends help you. Less than a year after moving here, I had to ask my new friends to make themselves available to come and stay with my twin toddlers when I went into labor. I was so worried that I was putting these new mom friends out and being a burden in their lives, but in reality, everyone was so excited to be able to be there to help. I felt even more bonded to my new mom tribe after leaning on them for support. Turns out, people feel good when they help other people.
Most importantly, be kind to the new women in your life and tell them how much they mean to you. Love on your tribe and show them your gratitude each time you are with them. Mom friends are forever and should be celebrated.