Family

You’ve Had a Baby. Great. Now Make Some Friends.

Finding new mom pals is more of a challenge than people think

Shortly after I became a mom, I realized I needed new friends. Mom friends.

It was true. As the isolation of maternity leave sunk in, I recognized I was a loner in the mom world. Most of my friends and my husband’s friends didn’t have any kids yet, and the other moms I knew lived far away from our home in Portland, Oregon.

Turned off by a moms’ support group at the hospital, I signed up for Gymboree classes, hoping I’d meet some nice moms. I was glad to have something positive to do with my new baby girl. But all the other moms seemed to be happily settled with other friendships as they made plans for stroller walks or latte runs.

My new up-all-night nursing stints were starting to wear on me. I didn’t look like my old self either. What happened to the professional who was good at her job and (mostly) put together?  I tried to be friendly, tried to look presentable in case a new friend presented herself. I’d chat about random baby activities or pretty much anything to strike up a conversation.

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This is how I eventually met a mom named Julie Smith (not her real name). Our daughters were in the same class, and I thought she seemed like someone I’d be friends with. After a couple of weeks of small talk, I went out on a limb and said, “We should get together sometime.” I was immensely relieved when she said yes and we exchanged numbers.

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Then came the next phase of my insecurity as a new mom: Were we compatible? Would her parenting style mesh with mine?

My days of trying to impress people were long gone. I needed friends I could be myself with. We got together the first time at a neutral location (I think it was a park or library) with an easy exit strategy. I knew I’d found a real friend when she wrapped a few extra cookies in a napkin after lunch one day, slipped them onto my kitchen counter out of sight of little eyes, and said, “These are just for Mom.”

That was nearly five years ago. We’ve seen our share of toddler meltdowns and potty accidents since then.

I’ve met many other moms along the way, some from my church group, some perfect strangers at prenatal aqua aerobics class. Some become friends; others just weren’t meant to be.

For anyone else feeling a little uneasy about searching for new mom friends, consider the following:

  • Start with small talk. Then ask a little about the other person to see if you’d be a good match. You’ve got nothing to lose. You need friends!
  • Be yourself and trust your gut. If the friendship isn’t meant to be, don’t worry. There are plenty more fish in the sea. If your gut tells you to share your cellphone number, do it. Who cares if she never texts? A new friendship can’t start unless someone takes a first step.
  • Leave the house. You will not meet new mom friends at home feeling sorry for yourself. Consider joining a moms’ group. When someone says, “Hey, I remember you from music class,” you know you’re getting good at this.
  • Consider the dads. Julie’s husband likes boats and fishing, just as my husband does. Dads are probably less likely to go out of their way to make new friends, so when meeting new moms, find out about their husbands, too. Host a family BBQ when you’re comfortable. Take the plunge.

No one should go this parenting road alone. We’ve had some great dinners and adventures with other families we’ve only recently met. We met a new family at daycare not long ago. We thought they seemed cool and invited them out for a pub night. Now, a few birthday parties later, we’re planning a summer camping trip together.

When you’re up all night and new at this, making new mom friends can seem daunting. But it will get easier, and finding the humor in these exhausting years can be a great way to start lasting friendships.

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