Things are about to get real in here. Really, really real.
Sadly, I can attest to how lonely life feels when you don’t have a solid group of friends. Introverts unite! This is totally from an introvert’s perspective. I’m sure finding your tribe is much easier when you’re extroverted, but I wouldn’t know that. I’m here to say that it’s possible, fellow introverts!
So here’s the deal: friendships change when you have kids. I’ve been lucky to maintain friendships since having kids, but some have fallen away. I’m here to tell you: that’s OKAY! Trust me, it happens throughout your entire life. Instead of exerting energy fretting over those who have moved on, pour that energy into building new friendships with those who are in a similar season as you.
Find yourself. I’m a believer in that to find those people you want to surround yourself with, you must first find yourself. You must first discover who you are and what you need out of relationships. I think one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in trying to build relationships is putting everything I have in and not wanting/expecting anything in return. Then I grew resentful when the relationship seemed too one-sided. Don’t do this, just don’t. This is called relationship burnout, and it hurts. Friendships should be equal parts pouring into each other.
Knowing who you are gives you an idea of the sort of people you will mix with and the sort of people you will clash with. Let’s not spend any time in a fantasy world where all 7 billion people in the world can sit around campfires singing Kumbaya. There will always be people whom you clash with. It will be okay; everyone will survive. But in order to thrive in relationships, you need to be able to be genuine with each other. In order to do that, you must trust and love the people you are building relationships with.
Be intentional. This is the hardest part for a lot of us, especially busy and overbooked moms. I get it, believe me. It wasn’t until I reached my breaking point of loneliness that I realized I wasn’t being intentional about this at all. So when I became a stay-at-mom I vowed to place relationships high, high, high on my priority list. Then we moved away from the small town we both grew up in where most people knew our names to a city where we knew exactly zero people our age. God used this situation to force me to put on my big girl pants and become intentional about my friendships.
My husband and I are the worst at retreating into our comfort zones. We are both introverts by definition, so stepping out and initiating friendships is pretty much equivalent to singing the national anthem in front of thousands of people. I’m still not sure how we ever built the courage to even talk to each other. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t as smooth as I like to remember it. But I’m happy to say that I have done it. In four short months, I have made some lifetime mom friends who I am proud to call mine.
MOPS or Mothers of Preschoolers has been my saving grace since leaving my job with adults to spend my entire day, everyday with a baby who I can’t even understand most of the time. My specific chapter meets every first and third Friday morning, and they provide childcare for our children during the 2.5 hour meeting. Can you say Godsend? Building relationships is all about these beautiful opportunities for fellowship. I am able to confide in these ladies when I feel lost. I am able to provide my own God-given gifts to these ladies when they need a pick-me-up. I am able to laugh and cry with these ladies when we share stories about motherhood. I feel safe with these women; that’s the sign of a solid relationship. If you’re struggling in the mom world or just want to meet other moms in a structured environment, you can find a MOPS group near you.
Small groups within our church have provided us with more opportunities for fellowship. I am so grateful of the women (and their husbands) whom God placed in our lives via activities we have participated in at our new church. I joined a women’s weekly Bible study, which also changed my life. I was sure to get us plugged into a small group that meets twice a month, and those people have become new and fast friends. If you have a church home, but you’re not plugged in you’re missing out on a key component of fellowship.
Local Facebook Groups or Meetup.com are both really good ways to find moms in your area who are looking for other moms to spend time with. I’m all about using the Internet (safely) to meet people these days. It is the way life is now; we live in a digital world, and that’s okay. I am a member of a lot of local online playgroups. When my son seems bored, I search the boards on these groups and find a playgroup nearby. This is how I found the library’s weekly toddler time that we faithfully attend every Wednesday.
I’m a big fan of [City Moms Blog Network]c(http://citymomsblog.com/). This might or might not be the reason I began blogging- to become a contributor for my CMBNetwork. Please notice me ACMB! But ANYWAY, this is a really good resource if you’re looking for a network of moms in a large city near you. I have attended some of their events. My favourite was the Costco happy hour where Costco opened an hour early just for moms to shop without the craziness that is Costco every hour of the day.
Blogging has been this introvert’s dream of building relationships. I’ve said it before, but I began this blog as a platform to connect with other mothers. I wanted it to be relatable enough so that other moms would reach out to me and each other to share the highs and lows of motherhood. I guess you could say that I wanted to build a tribe with Internet moms. After six weeks of blogging (yes, only 6 weeks!), I have already began building genuine relationships with other mothers. Please, please interact with me! My love languages are words of affirmation and quality time, so it is safe to say that I really, really cherish relationships and interactions with people I appreciate. And readers, I appreciate each one of you.
Originally written for themotherblog.com.