I’m a naturally quiet person––content being alone, reading a book in public, going places solo. And it’s worked well for me for most of my life, being the confident person that I am. So you can imagine the shock when I became a mother, never to be left alone ever again, only to wind up feeling the dreaded L word––lonely.
It always seemed easier for everyone else to have mom friends. I’d show up to the playground or park, and clusters of moms would already be there. Being on the quieter side, I never felt comfortable injecting myself into the conversation, and my attentions were always drawn to making sure my toddler didn’t fall off the play structure and break something.
Being a mom is hard. It’s lonely, and it’s draining and it’s frustrating. The younger years are the hardest, which I can say now that I’m on the verge of sending my 5-year-old off to kindergarten. It gets better, and here’s why.
The longer you’re a mom, the more opportunities you have to gain friends, but you have to work for it.
That’s what makes the early years of being a mom so hard––you are barely holding on to what it means to be a parent, much less make new friends. Your baby (and then young toddler) can make it super difficult for outings, and meltdowns end play dates, stat. You don’t have a ton of time under your belt to meet friends in a variety of situations. And frankly, it’s just too exhausting.
If you’re a naturally shy person, this could be where it gets difficult. I personally, am comfortable being alone for most of the time so I have to force myself to get out of the house. Trust me–– this will also change the older your child gets because newsflash, they are going to start driving you crazy and you’ll NEED to get out. In the meantime, get creative with hooking up with moms in the same stage of life as you.
Join Gymboree, MOPS, a Bible study, go play in the neighborhood. Get outside. Go to playdates when you don’t want and text the friend you say you’re too tired to hang out with. Even if you only meet up with moms once a month, you will start to develop friendships that turn into more.
Every year that passes, you have another layer of friends that add up to more mama pals that meet so many different needs. You’ll end up with school friends, spiritual friends, moms night out friends, sports friends and gym friends.
Before you even realize, you’ll be dropping your kiddos off at school and be running into T-Ball moms. You’ll be out at the grocery store and see neighbors there, too. Trips to the gym means you could run into a friend from MOPS or just a friend you’ve made from always sweating it out next to the same mama every week. As a person who naturally had few friends, no one was more shocked than I was to find myself in the midst of an amazing tribe of mothers.
I’m now that mom who knows someone almost everywhere I go, despite being the mom who once looked on from the sidelines.
Am I now a social butterfly? No, not really. I’m still the same person who tends to crave being alone more than surrounding myself with people. Every day, I have to find the motivation to reach out to someone, to get a connection that I sometimes don’t even know I needed.
But I know one thing: if I can do it, so can you.