My family and I moved to the Charleston area in 2013 and all my lifelong friends and family were left in the dust about 10 hours away. Previously a working Mom, I found myself navigating the world of Stay at Home Moms in a brand new city. Being a social creature, I decided to try and find ways to make friends for myself and my little ones. I began trying to “force” friendships and the results were pretty disastrous.
My first few experiences were admittedly awkward and disheartening. One instance involved “meeting up” with a group of Moms I found online who all turned out to be about 10 years younger than me and all the children were babies. Most of the women knew one another from high school and lots of selfies were being taken. I tried to jump into the conversation but I spent most of that encounter pretending to get a really interesting text message. At that point, I still thought a hashtag was a breakfast food, so conversation wasn’t exactly flowing. These were all good Moms and great women but I left there feeling old, confused and lonely.
Another time, I found myself going to a playdate involving conversations about designer handbags and “neighborhood shaming”. On my way back home to our rental condo, I felt so down. I looked up the price of homes in an “acceptable” neighborhood and almost passed out. I grew up in a town where people were thankful to have dinner on the table at night and a roof over their heads. Mommy competitions aren’t my thing. Once again, I was definitely out of my element and it made me feel very insecure.
I missed having a friend to share coffee with and confide in. I had foolishly assumed that becoming a Mom would make everyone nice, non judgmental and friendly. I talked to my husband about this, how lonely I was feeling and I realized what I’d been doing. I was essentially sending myself on blind dates. Blind Mom Dates.
I sat down and thought long and hard about how I’d made friends throughout my life. Most of them had something in common with me, we worked together or we shared another life circumstance. Any other time, I’d never walked up to another stranger and expected to find a new best friend. So, I decided to take a deep breath, step back and stop forcing it. It was then that I started to find “my people”.
I just went where I wanted to go, did what I wanted to do and I met other Moms along the way. But, it did take time. I spoke up and chatted with people without worrying if they would like me or not. Was this always pleasant? No. Did I always agree with their ideas? Heck no. But I did start to appreciate the beauty and true diversity of motherhood. I became the Mom I wanted to find – friendly, accepting and open minded. And through that, I began to make true friends who didn’t judge my parenting style, worn out yoga pants and rental agreement.
Recently, I was playing with my kids at the park and I saw another Mom there, nervously looking at her phone. She was meeting up with a Moms group for the first time and the other Moms weren’t really interacting with her. I walked over, introduced myself and I could see the relief in her eyes. I’ve been the lonely playground Mom and now I’m proud to be the friendly playground Mom.
Being a Mom can often be a very lonely experience. We pour everything we have into our children and being able to connect with someone else sharing in that can be so powerful. We are fortunate to live in an area like Charleston. Every town is filled with intelligent, creative, wonderful women with different backgrounds and interests. This is certainly a great place to connect and find a coffee buddy. How did you find your best “Mom friends?”