A few years ago, I was sitting on my therapist’s couch, crying that I couldn’t find “my tribe.” You know, the one everyone talks about. One of my very good friends had just moved to a different town, and it may as well have been a different country. I was sinking even before she moved, and that just added to the weight on my chest. My therapist, who I truly do adore and respect, kept giving me suggestions that seemed impossible. “Put yourself out there! Take a class! Join a group!”
I felt like I had no time, and I was so lost I couldn’t imagine I would be good company for anyone.
I did try to “put myself out there” once and went to a mommy meet-up. It was a disaster. Pretty much everyone knew each other and didn’t even look my way. One kind mom did strike up a conversation, and we hung out for most of the hour. I thought I had finally found a little success until, as we parted, she gave me her business card. You see, in the course of the conversation, I mentioned where I worked, and she thought we could do business together.
Maybe it was her way of being friendly, but in the mental state I was in, it made me feel like I was nothing more than a work connection, and it shattered me.
It was a while before I put myself out there again, but then I did, and this time it clicked. I joined my local mom’s club. I started attending PTO meetings and volunteering at my daughter’s elementary school. You never know where or when you’ll find your people. The ones that will pick your kids up at a moment’s notice, who will forgo nights out to days in at your house because they know you don’t like to dress up and want to go to bed early. The ones you can call from your car Bluetooth and just say, “Keep me company on the ride home from work, I had a bad day.” And the ones that just know when you need something.
Recently, on some random Thursday, one of my friends texted, asking me to come to a dinner meet-up. I didn’t even remember it was happening because things in my life had been so crazy. She noticed I didn’t RSVP and took that extra minute to think of me and let me know someone wanted me somewhere.
Making new friends as an adult is hard. Making new friends while trying to balance your life, your marriage, and your kids is even harder.
But if you put yourself out there (fine, my therapist was right), you really will find people who will come into your life and make it better. So no, this isn’t your typical love letter. This is a love letter to my girls at work who can take one look at my face or read one text and know I’m going to need a little more kindness that day. To my “adventure babes” who generously always come to my house because who really wants to change out of sweats? To the moms I’ve met through my daughter’s school, who are there to back me up when I’m in a bind and care about her as if she’s one of their own. To my mom’s club mamas who embrace my crazy work schedule and never make me feel like an outsider when I can FINALLY attend an event, and to my fellow contributors, most of whom I’ve just met or are still meeting, for expanding my knowledge of what a mom looks like, what challenges we face, and how to evolve in the ever-changing world of parenthood.
There’s so much chaos in this world, both good and bad, so find your friends and love them hard.
And if you’re having trouble connecting, follow the advice I was given. Find a way to put yourself in the mix and interact with new people in new places. Trust me, I’ve been there and back, and I promise, it’s worth the effort, and life (and motherhood) is sweeter on the other side of loneliness.