I felt completely alone when I first had my son, and I probably should have. I was an only child raising a child with a disability. With the exception of my own mother, I didn’t feel as though I had many moms to relate to or vent with. I sort of scoffed at the idea of “mommy friends” because I didn’t think I had the time or ability to make any of my own.
Not long after we returned home from the NICU, though, I realized I had to find a “tribe” or lose my mind. Then I acknowledged that I was going to have to put forth a little effort in finding them. Because let’s face it, the best things in life don’t usually just fall into our laps. And I was right. The past five years have brought me some of the best friends I’ve ever known, but I had to be willing to break out of my shell to find them.
Where does one find these “mommy friends” you ask? Let me tell you where I found mine…
1. I JOINED ONLINE COMMUNITIES MADE UP OF MOMS IN SITUATIONS SIMILAR TO MY OWN.
I was stuck in the house with a newborn premie during flu season. As you can imagine, I had quite a bit of time on my hands. This lead me to Facebook…which drew me into spina bifida parenting groups…which introduced me to some of the coolest moms I’ve ever met. Sure we talk about the kids and give each other advice on all things spina bifida. But we also share mildly inappropriate jokes, get into frequent meme wars, and spend hours talking about anything BUT the kids. Even though I only “know” less than a dozen of these moms in person, they all are some of the most cherished members of my tribe.
2. I NOT ONLY KEPT MY HOBBIES AND INTERESTS, I TOOK TIME TO IMMERSE MYSELF IN THEM.
Before I had my son, I loved working out daily. So about a year after he was born, I threw myself back into health and fitness. By taking time for myself, I met other moms who are also into working out and nutrition. I’ve always had a strong sense of faith, so we started attending a church with great children’s programming AND a great network of moms for me to befriend. I enjoy writing, so I reached out to The Pittsburgh Moms Blog. And if you’re a “regular” reader, you know my fellow contributors are some of the coolest, most supportive moms ever. Not giving up my personal identity has allowed me to meet and connect with different types of moms who have interests similar to my own. Many of them have also become truly valued members of my little tribe.
3. MOTHERHOOD HELPED ME TO LET MY GUARD DOWN AROUND THOSE I ALREADY SAW ON THE REGULAR.
Before I had a child, I didn’t really socialize with many of my co-workers outside the workplace. I don’t know why that was. I just never seemed to find time to chat outside the workday. Well let me tell you, all that changed after I had my son. I see my co-workers face to face more than I see any other adults (with the exception of my husband). And you know what? They totally “get” my situation and offer me some of the best parenting advice and support ever.
It’s a definite plus that several of them have grown children. They’ve “been there and done that” as far as child rearing is concerned. A couple of them are even grandmas. Some of their grandchildren are my son’s age, and we swap stories all the time. This may not be the typical “mom tribe” you see in movies, but it is an awesome one.
So if you are a new mom who also feels like there is no “tribe” out there for you, trust me there is. If you get out of your comfort zone and put your true self out there, I promise you’ll find them. And they will be so very worth the effort.