Before I became pregnant with my first child, I had a close-knit group of girlfriends. We spent a lot of time together as couples and just us girls. We went to concerts, dinner dates, ballgames and spent Sunday hosting brunches at each of our homes. My friends and I spoke regularly on the phone making plans, discussing life events and frustrations. As our lives began to shift from fun loving newly-wed married couples, to becoming young families, I was excited to experience motherhood along with my close friends and experience them transition into my mom friends.
There were a few attempts to get together with our new families after my daughter was born. It wasn’t long after a few kid friendly playdates, that my friends of six years started becoming more distant. Being in the thick of new motherhood, I didn’t notice at first, that texts started becoming unanswered and the invites were becoming less frequent. I was confused and hurt that my friends of almost a decade were drifting away from me and that we were not “mom friends” for each other. I didn’t understand how our lives could be in a similar place of navigating toddlers, yet we could not find ways to fulfill the genuine connection that we once organically had.
I felt lonely for some time as I tried to process the realization that my friendships were slipping away. I wondered if the grief from losing our carefree and fun-loving life, overwhelmed the ability to see each other in a mature chapter of adulthood. I started to question, are we refusing to be vulnerable and discuss the difficulties of our changing lives becoming parents because that would require recognition that our once confident kid-free life was no more? I sadly came to the conclusion, that once the vulnerability left my friendships, it was difficult to maintain a genuine connection with them as a mom.
Once the genuine connection of friendship dissipated into thin air, I struggled to fill the void. I hadn’t made new friends in almost a decade. Where would I start? Being introverted and not a very approachable person by nature, the thought of approaching random strangers at the park asking if they would be my friend caused me anxiety. I feared being rejected. I started searching online, thinking there had to be other moms out there like me, trying to find a connection.
I found a local mom’s group that took me in immediately and made me feel welcomed. Meeting new moms that were open to discussing the hard and ugly truths of motherhood was a relief. I slowly built friendships with women that were understanding and also a wealth of knowledge. My daughter began having regular play dates and I started enjoying adult conversations again. The void of losing my friends began to close as I made new mom connections.
The mom’s group boosted my confidence enough to put myself out of my comfort zone, talking to other moms I didn’t know, to build a connection. I started talking to neighbors and other preschool moms. I found that not everyone was someone that I wanted to connect with on a deep level, but that my cup felt full when I had conversations with other moms. The women I have a deeper connections with are the women that speak openly and listen to potty training issues, breastfeeding woes and fights with husbands. I learned, having a trusted, non-judgmental sounding board is instrumental to being a happy mom.
Because it’s tough to make new mom friends, here are a few of my suggestions on how to find a genuine connection with other moms:
- Search for a mom’s group near you. Facebook is a great resource or even a Google search may lead you to a group near you.
- Consider joining a book club. Or, any other club of interest. There are many on Facebook to search and it is not difficult to find one that meets in person locally or nationwide virtually, that may be a good fit.
- If you are struggling with postpartum mental health, like so many of us do, there is a great forum on Facebook called Poem Interactive that may be a soft stepping stone to relating with other moms.
- Is there a unique aspect of your family life that others may have in common with you? Try searching for a group that may relate to you. For example, my husband is an airline pilot and travels a lot. There are a few groups that I am connected with that have been supportive in my unique situation.
- Make acquaintances where you can. At the park while your kids play, chat up the mom next to you. If your child is enrolled in classes or sports, make an effort to talk to the other parents. Get to know your neighbors by welcoming new ones and making an effort to talk to existing neighbors when you are out and about.
- Strike up the nerve to make the first move. If your child is playing well with another child, ask the child’s mom if they would be interested in a play date and exchange contact info. Chances are, the child’s mom is seeking a connection just as you are.
Finding new connections as a mom is difficult and nerve wrecking. But, it is worth putting yourself out there once you realize the importance of experiencing life’s chapters with friends that get you.