When I was in college, I was traveling around with some future lifelong friends. During our travels, we encountered another group of young women who thought it might be fun to join forces during our adventures. That evening when we were reflecting on the experience, one of us sighed and said, "Sometimes, I don't want to make new friends."
We all laughed at my friend's comment--and continue to tease her today--but there was a nugget of truth behind her words. Making new friends takes a lot of time and effort, and it's so much easier to hunker down with that core group of people that you've known forever.
But what happens when you've entered a new season of life and you find yourself drifting along without those nearest and dearest to you?
This message is for you, new mama.
Finding "mom friends" is absolutely essential to your survival, especially in those early weeks and months of caring for a newborn. At some point, your partner will return to work, your extended family will go home, and that meal train will dry up...that is, if you have been fortunate enough to have any of those things in the first place.
So, what to do when you're home all alone with an adorable yet demanding (and untalkative) roommate?
Get out of the house, mama! Go to the park, to the library, to the zoo...anywhere that might have moms and kiddos. Even better is if you can go to a regular meeting or group. When my eldest was a baby and I was struggling to find my way, I discovered the new mom support group at the hospital where she was born. It. Was. A. Lifesaver.
You see, I had plenty of friends who had kids, but I didn't know anyone who lived in the same state that had babies the same age. My husband and I had moved to Memphis a few years before our daughter was born, but our friend group consisted primarily of folks from his work, and none of them had kids at all.
I needed moms who were in the trenches like me, without a clue about what they were doing. I needed to talk about sleep schedules (or lack thereof), sore nipples, and every new mom's favorite topic: labor and delivery. I needed to vent and complain, while at the same time marvel in amazement at this tiny human before me. I found all of those things--plus some extremely sweet and super-helpful nurses--at the baby group, and I am forever grateful to those women who were in my life when I needed them the most.
At this point, you may be expecting me to say that these women are now my tribe or my village or whatever term is floating around these days. But, no, not so much. While I do keep in touch with a couple of the moms (love you, ladies!), most of us have drifted apart, geographically or otherwise. And that's totally okay because we were there for each other when we needed to be.
I encountered this phenomenon of "right now friends" when my husband was active duty in the military. Since everyone was coming and going all the time, it was imperative to make connections quickly. I met some wonderful people during that phase of life, but there was also an unspoken understanding that no one was going to take the place of anyone's "forever friends."
Mom friends, especially new mom friends, are like that, too. If you're lucky, maybe some of those mom friends will make the leap into forever territory, but if not, that's okay. You need someone right now to meet up for a walk at the park or a outing to a coffeeshop. Someone else with dark circles under her eyes who is also wearing the same clothes from the day before (bonus points if they're yoga pants).
So, please, new mama, do yourself a favor and get out there. Yes, it might be scary, but I promise you won't regret it. Check out a group at your church or the new mom support group at the hospital. Beautiful Bundles at Baptist East (still virtual) meets every Thursday and MOMS at Methodist Germantown meets the first Tuesday of every month. If you like to exercise or even just move your body at all, allow me to put in a shameless plug for Fit4Mom Memphis & Germantown. Go for the workouts and stay for the community. There are also several groups on various social media platforms but try to attend an in-person meet-up if you can. Memphis Moms has even begun hosting monthly meet-ups at various locations and times for this very purpose.