“Do you want to meet for coffee sometime?” By the time I got the words out, I was sweating. She hesitated before answering. I was certain she was trying to find a way to decline. But then, she smiled.
“Sure! Do you want to bring the kids or should we get a sitter?” Huge sigh of relief–yet another Mom-Date on the calendar, and my quest for making new friends continued.
I’m the new kid around here, a transplant from the West Coast where I’d lived pretty much my entire life. Yet, I was undaunted at this move to New England. I’m friendly! I’m outgoing! I thought that somehow I’d find my new community if I looked hard enough. A ready-made home team of players to be a part of our new life. They would invite me over, and their kids would love to play with mine. We’d just KNOW we were meant to be BFFs from day one…
Yet, after months of desperate loneliness, I realized that making new friends wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.
Making new friends–building community–requires deliberate action. It takes a willingness to be uncomfortable and endure the awkward, to break through barriers and connect with someone else on a “me, too!” kind of level.
Community isn’t something to find, it’s something to create. Building a new tribe takes moxie.
It takes courage–not the bravery kind of courage that we were made to believe as kids, but the gutsy, whole-hearted, “this is who I really am” kind of courage.
Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.
But, oh, the awkwardness of it all! It’s dating all over again, only this time we’re admiring each other’s diaper bags and jogging strollers. If only we could skip right to the wine dinners and book clubs. I’ve had to develop mommy pick-up lines. I’ve had to get up the nerve to ask for phone numbers and be the one to send the first text. I’ve laid awake at 3 o’clock in the morning and wondered…did I talk too much? Did I over-share?
It’s tempting to just give up, avoiding the risk of rejection. But then, I remember what it was like when our family went through an unexpected crisis back in California just weeks before I gave birth to our first child. My husband tried to move furniture by himself and ended up damaging his spine so badly that his leg was dragging within a week. Emergency surgery and a long recovery meant he wouldn’t be able to help me with my own recovery from a scheduled c-section. I was terrified, but we survived, all because of the love and support of our community.
Raising a family takes a village. Actually, life in general takes a village.
Here in New Hampshire, our family needs a new tribe. I need a new tribe. So, I’m pushing through the embarrassment, throwing out mommy pick-up lines, and searching for the women who will, one day (and hopefully soon) be comfortable enough in my home to help themselves to a glass of water, who will bring their slippers when they come for dinner, and will write my name in the space on their kids’ school forms marked “Emergency Contact.”
In this quest, I’m finding I’m not the only one who’s trying to make new friends. I’m not the only mom who feels alone. Motherhood can be an incredibly lonely place and sometimes I think our tendency is to content ourselves with the isolation and loneliness rather than risk rejection. But, the shortest distance between strangers and friends is a willingness to share our story. To let someone else see that we don’t have it all sorted out, or put together, or under control. I’m friendly, I’m outgoing, but I’m also insecure. I definitely don’t have it all together, and I have a trunk full of baggage in the back pockets of my skinny jeans.
Despite these insecurities (or more importantly, because of them) I need to find a new home team of women to do life with.
Guts on the line, I’m putting on my big-girl pants, butt full of baggage and all, and making new friends how and where I can.
My new tribe is out there, and it’s up to me to find them. Because they need me just as much as I need them.