A Mother Manifesto: Be More Than Kind. Embrace Other Mothers.
When I first moved to Florida from New York, it was overwhelming. Everywhere I went, I searched for familiar faces but of course there were none. A few weeks in, I was talking to another mom in my twins’ preschool class. It turned out we both had older girls too. She seemed nice. This was promising! “Maybe we could do a playdate one afternoon,” I said.
“I can’t. My girls have gymnastics every afternoon. Our schedule is packed,” she responded.
And that was it. She said nothing more. And I didn’t really know how to respond other than to say, “Ok” and go cry in my car. Yes, I really cried in my car.
I’m not the only one to have this kind of experience. Another new mom I know tried to up a playdate and was told, “My kids have all the friends they need.” But of course that wasn’t really the point. This was a mom who was just trying to make some friends. A playdate was just a way to hopefully get there.
Making new friends is not for the weak. It’s completely exhausting. You get constant flashbacks to junior high and the intense desire to fit in and be liked. And it’s very lonely at times.
I think as moms we can do better when it comes to reaching out, supporting and embracing new moms in our communities. Yes, it’s wonderful to introduce yourself and say hi. But you can do more. And it doesn’t take much effort. Planning a girls night out with your girlfriends? Invite the new mom. Meeting a bunch of moms at the playground? Invite the new mom. Having a birthday lunch for someone? Invite the new mom. It just gives her an opportunity to start meeting people, making connections and finding her community. And it might turn out you really love hanging out with her too.
It’s easy once you get settled in your life to just coast. I’ve been there. You’re busy. You have your friends. But put some extra positive energy into the world and embrace some moms who are probably crying in their cars right now.
And if you’re new, keep reaching out and trying too. You can’t just sit back and wait for the invitations to roll in. Because they just might not. And it’s not necessarily personal. It’s just that people are living their lives.
Every few weeks, I try to invite one mom over with her kids for a playdate/ pizza dinner. Because who doesn’t like to be invited over for a playdate where your kids get fed and you don’t have to do any of the clean up?!
If it’s not a love connection, we both move on. It’s like suburban dating in the comfort of my home.
I’ve now been in Florida a year and I have definitely made some friends. I don’t feel a sense of community yet. It doesn’t feel like home. I still feel lonely at times. But it does feel a little bit better.
And that mom who shut me down because of her children’s packed gymnastics schedule? She ended up inviting me over to her pool and we’ve hung out several times since. I really like her and it looks like we became friends after all.