Let’s face it: making friends as an adult can be HARD. When you were a child, it was simple, since you spent your days in a classroom with a bunch of little people just like you, who were interested in roughly the same things, and were all equally eager to find someone to play with. But when you get older, it gets tougher: “As people approach midlife, the days of youthful exploration, when life felt like one big blind date, are fading. Schedules compress, priorities change and people often become pickier in what they want in their friends.”
It’s the transitions in life that can truly expose the fact that you really need more pals to lean on, and having a baby is the ultimate transition of your adult life. If you’re the first in your circle of friends to have a baby, you can feel pretty isolated, because your existing friends won’t necessarily understand what you’re going through, or know how to support you.
This is where that old Girl Scout song, “Make new friends, but keep the old” comes in: while juggling the needs of your new babe and your old social life, it’s important to bring in reinforcements if you can. As Marla Paul, author of The Friendship Crisis, writes:
“It’s so important as a new mom to make friends with other new moms who are going through the same thing you’re experiencing. Having a baby can be extremely isolating because you’re just trying to get your baby fed, and figure out how to breastfeed, and how to give her a bath, and you’re not thinking about your social life. Plus, a lot of women come from this incredibly rich social environment of working to being home alone with a crying baby. It’s like a double-whammy. You’re in the place where you live, but if you’ve been working you haven’t invested a lot of energy into becoming friends with your neighbors — you feel like a stranger in your own neighborhood. When you have a new baby you have a new job, which is making new friends.”
Trying to meet other moms can feel like being back in the world of dating, or being back in high school, so while many lists online will claim that it can be “easy,” it can be a little intimidating. That’s why I think messageboards and mom-friend-matchmaking services like HelloMamas.com and Stay-At-Home Moms Meetups are so key: if you’re an internet-savvy kind of gal (and I am), getting to know people online before you meet them face-to-face can be way less scary. Meetup.com is also loaded with mom groups: I just typed “mom” into the search box on my screen and came up with 15 possibilities within 5 miles of me!
Ultimately, while it can be devastating when what looks like a great mommy-match doesn’t work out, it’s important to remember: it’s not you, it’s them. Think about how busy and unpredictable your days of baby-wrangling are – your first priority is your family, and your social life has to come second, just by default. (Or, really, it comes third, after sleep!) Remember that if a new mom-friend blows you off, it’s because she has the same priorities and problems as you do. So don’t take it as an insult: give her a call!
And keep trying. Because there are thousands upon thousands of other mamas out there like you, and at least one of them is just dying to talk to you.