The Tribeless Mama: Making Friends After Kids
Making friends - it’s never been the easiest thing for me to do. I’ve always been a pretty shy person and I am okay to claim “introvert” as a title that describes me. From my early school days, I remember the anxiety and nerves that came about with putting myself out there. Though life experiences and a few servings of grace have helped the anxiety fade over the years, I still wish that the process of putting myself out there was less stressful and more organic.
Nonetheless, when I became pregnant, I was excited to make “mom friends.” My husband and I were the first to get married out of our group of friends, and we were the first to get pregnant as well. All of a sudden, it seemed as though our lives were foreign to our friends’ lives. They didn’t understand how much our lives changed, and in the same breath, their lives seemed foreign to us too. My husband was just finishing up law school and I worked from home, so my pregnancy was spent pretty much alone. We moved halfway through my second trimester to a new city, and when we got settled in our new town, I was so ready for community.
I immediately joined La Leche League. I was probably 30 weeks along at the time. My mom was incredibly involved with this wonderful organization when my brother and I were young, and she recommended that I join even before my baby was due. I waddled on into the first meeting and was greeted by several happy faces. All of the mothers in the league were incredibly lovely, tending to their babies and supporting each other. However, for me, it was like the first day of high school all over again where I didn’t know anyone and kept struggling to make conversation. When the meeting was over, I headed back to my car, feeling somewhat depleted.
In a way, part of me was expecting to be sprinkled with pixie dust and given an invisible “mom squad” crown in the meeting. But of course life doesn’t exactly work that way, and I realized that making friends during this phase would also have its challenges. Before adulthood takes over, you have so much more time to curate friendships, right? In college for instance, you can go after a lecture and sit and discuss what you’re learning and how you want to change the world over a latte on the quad with your friends. When you have a job and a spouse and a house and bills and responsibility, and then kids, your friendship making time seems to slip away.
Then came mom life. With a difficult postpartum recovery and learning how to be a mother, I was at home all the time. Although I deeply cherish this period of life with my first born, part of it was a little bittersweet. I wanted friends, and better yet, I felt a yearning in my heart to give friendship to others. It was at this moment that I realized that I needed to put my big girl panties (postpartum panties to be more specific) on, get out there, and create a community myself. I didn’t know how long that would take, and I still don’t, but I realized that if I could create a human, then stepping into situations that would have scared me off before had the potential to be small potatoes.
After a move up the state and some mothering under my belt, I began to say yes more. I began to reach out, as well. It’s been a beautiful thing to see a community grow from places I never expected. For example, I reconnected with a friend from high school. Our first play date with our kids was awkwardly painful - I mean, we hadn’t seen each other since high school graduation but now, I truly could not imagine my life without her. I also started an Instagram page and have met some of the most beautiful souls through that medium. Pre mama me would never have done that, yet, I chucked my fears at the door, initiated kindness, and now I am thrilled to have a good friends all over the country. I met one of the most amazing mamas who lives up in Buffalo on the gram. Though several states separate us, our hearts and experiences as moms have brought us together. I have also met some lovely ladies through Bible study, days at the park with my kids, and even on a walk around my neighborhood - seriously, I saw a woman who had a child the same age as my second son, walked up to her and asked if she’d like to be my friend, and now we are. These friendships all sprouted from pushing myself to step forward when I’d usually recluse.
I have seen God’s hand in each of the friendships that I have made thus far. It’s not necessarily how I thought I’d find my tribe, but I am so humbled by and happy with the journey. I share my experience to say this: fellow mamas, you are not alone. You deserve friendship. You deserve someone to walk through this beautiful, messy, stressful, wonderful, frustrating, hilarious season of life with. Even if you feel silly, reach out your hand and ask someone to be your friend. I guarantee you won’t regret it.