To the Mommy stuck in Lonelyville,
Usually I’d just write back a personal response, but – LUCKY YOU! – I decided to draw it out and turn your letter into a post because I’m really feeling you right now and I’m sure others are, too.
I’m a new Mom with a 4 month old daughter and I feel really lonely most days. I love spending time with her, but I could really use some adult conversation. I go to the park in my neighborhood, but haven’t met anyone yet who I clicked with to the point that we’d exchange info or anything. How did you meet people when Ryan was born?
I totally feel you and wish I could come over and play right now! Don’t despair – there are people out there – you just haven’t met them yet.
Now I can’t exactly tell if you’re on maternity leave and heading back to work or if you’re at home for the long haul, but it doesn’t really matter because people everywhere are looking for friends – weekday or weekend – you just need to look in the right places (and I will help you find some of those places – and hopefully some commenters will, too!)
One thing I will stress is that when looking for new friends, you have to keep an open mind. The first few people I met didn’t seem like my “usual” kind of friend and I thought all we had in common was that we had babies in the Spring of ’07, but those were the same girls that invited my depressed, lost, cheerless self into their homes and kept forcing me to attend gatherings of human beings and for that I am forever grateful. And surprise, surprise – I am still in contact with them.
All I wanted when I went on my “find a friend”
rampage search was someone who lived close to me. Preferably someone who thought I was worth spending time with. Like, every day. And maybe we would have sleepovers. With wine. And go on vacations together. Perhaps a Mommy BFF who wanted to wear the other half of my heart necklace. Okay but really, I just wanted to meet one freaking person who got me excited about being at home with my kid and made me want to shower and get dressed and get outside. And someone who definitely wanted to chat about more than breastfeeding, napping and poop. Although that would be allowed, of course. A lot of pressure for that one person, but whatever, that would be their problem.
I found two such people. G lived in my apartment building and I met LB in a baby class. They pretty much restored sanity to my life. They both had baby girls born in March and we would take walks, go to the playground and to lunch.
Our first friends - G, LB and their beautiful daughters at our apartment for a BBQ
Eventually, G went back to work but we still hung out at night and on weekends, LB and I met other people through our baby class and a bunch of us joined music and gym classes together, went to lunch and found tons of places to hang out in the area.
With time, our circle of friends expanded. I knew this would be my Mommy support system – I knew there were girls out there that I could depend on if I needed to drop Ryan off in an emergency, if I needed a doctor recommendation or just to talk. To this day, I consider some of them my closest friends. Not all remained – some moved out of the area, others went back to work and naturally some of us simply grew apart, but each one made a profound difference in my life and for that I am so thankful that we crossed paths.
It felt so amazing to create a new life for myself. It was hard work, but it needed to be done. I had gone from having a work schedule, a community of people and a place to go every day to waking up and … well, nothing.
I actually need to work at this again, now that the 4-year-old set is in camp all day and Lexi and I talk openly about how she needs some friends. I’m currently stalking a woman from our MyGym class and begging my neighbor to pop out her 3 month old fetus now so we can hang out. Nevermind that she has a 6 year old and a 4 year old in camp and probably wants to enjoy her quiet summer before she goes back to work. But that doesn’t stop me.
I’m close to printing a sign and hanging it on all of the neighborhood trees with a sad looking picture of Alexa beneath the bold headline “Looking For Friends”, and my contact info on it. For sure someone would contact me immediately. Probably the police, but someone nevertheless.
Okay, I’m sure you’re thrilled that I turned your letter into a post, because in no way have I answered your question and you’ve been reading this for waaayyy too long and you’re annoyed because you could have been out making friends and instead I’m disappointing you.
So here goes…
Meetup is a website where you can find groups of people from Pet Lovers to Singles Over 50 to Lonely Mommies like you. By zip code! So try a search there and be creative with your search terms. Just be careful if you join a group that only has 1 or 2 members. It very well may be a startup, but if the group was founded a year ago and nobody has joined, you’re probably not going to find what you’re looking for.
2. Stroller Strides
Stroller Strides is a way for you to get back into the exercise game, meet other people and use your baby as a dumbbell. Just kidding, sort of. Check it out – they are all over the country and you can take a free trial to see what it’s all about.
3. Music Together
Music Together is an internationally recognized music and movement program for babies through kindergartners and their caregivers. There are tons of music programs out there, and I tried to stay away after something like 5 semesters with Ryan because I was afraid of a growing addiction (I actually started listening to the CDs in the car by myself when I didn’t even have to) but I’m back there again with Alexa and loving it.
4. Search out your local YMCA, library, church, synagogue, other place of worship or community center. You may be surprised at just how many free or low cost classes are offered just minutes away. Especially at the library – you can find everything from Storytime to Zumba to Drivers Ed.
5. Pick up your town’s free parenting magazines. There are lots of community events going on throughout the year and you can get great ideas about where to go (once you’ve made that friend to share your necklace with). Everything from farms to museums to playgrounds to gym classes (The Little Gym, MyGym, Gymboree, etc.) to indoor play spaces can be found inside these little gems.
6. Websites. I have a bunch of sites bookmarked that have great ideas for places to go and things to do in my area. One of these is Mommy Poppins… but obviously do your own search (although I’d love to hang with you!) Online Birth Clubs are another way to meet people. I have friends who have a whole online support system from BabyCenter and BabyZone. There is also the MOMS Club. Play around a bit…
One final thought – treat this like you’re scouring the Mommy Dating Scene. You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Talk to people at Birthday parties, say hello on the street, ask people you know if they know anyone. If you’re like me and give off a stand-offish vibe when you meet a new person and cannot imagine blurting out, “It was great meeting you – let’s get the kids together!”, you’ll have to get over it. Now is the time to be your most outgoing self. Try not to make decisions based on how she carries her baby everywhere in a sling, co-sleeps, breastfeeds exclusively and makes her own baby food while you maybe can’t imagine doing any of that. That doesn’t make you opposites, you just have different parenting styles. The woman who doesn’t seem like your “normal type of friend” may just be the one who helps you out of Lonelyville.
P.S. Anyone else, please comment with suggestions. I am more than confident that I’ve left out other great ways to meet people.