How To Make New Mom Friends
Dearest ever Wise and Wonderful Amalah,
My little guy is four months old and I don’t know how to talk to other moms. We’ve been going to Baby and Me Yoga for about two months now and it’s the same group of women pretty much every week. I’ve started going to story time at the library and I see the same moms again. I think we all want to be friends, but we’re all really awkward, like it’s the first day of high school and we’re smiling shyly at each other, but are too scared to say anything. I’ve pulled out a couple topics to try to get things started, but they’ve all fallen pretty flat.
I’ve tried asking about their kids, because everybody loves to talk about their kids, right? But what are you supposed to say… is he crawling yet? Obviously not, I see the baby right there. I tried TV, but none of them watch “The Bachelor”, so what am I supposed to do with that? I don’t watch any other super dramatic shows that warrant discussion every week. I’ve asked about the cute outfits their babies wear, but it doesn’t go further than that. I get the feeling they want to chat too, but are just as awkward because we all hang around after these things sort of half smiling at each other.
I moved here about three years ago and haven’t made too many friends yet, and I was really hoping these mom and baby things would get things rolling in the friend department. I don’t want this opportunity to get away from me, because they’re going to have to go back to work soon and then where will I be? FRIENDLESS FOREVER!
So, dear Wise and Wonderful, any advice on how to talk to these ladies? How have I gotten this far in life and still don’t know how to make friends?
Ah, the mom friends dilemma. Or the lack of mom friends dilemma. We’ve all been there. I’m sure many of us still are, or feel that way sometimes.
It’s admittedly really hard to force these things — to build a solid social circle based solely on the fact that you are all moms who have shown up to the same activity. Or whose children attend the same school or program. These connections aren’t usually enough, in my experience, to build lasting friendships that continue once you and/or your children move on past whatever brought you together in the first place. I’ve cycled through a few mom-friend groups that despite all of our best efforts, drifted apart once our kids’ activity/school situation changed. A couple emails, a couple attempts at organizing reunion playdates, followed by a birthday party invite where their child is greeted by yours with a “Who is that? I don’t remember him.” and then…sigh.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. The opposite of that. Ignore my Debbie Downer intro and definitely keeping trying. Because you might connect with someone — maybe not all of them — on a deeper level beyond just “WE BOTH HAVE BABIES.” And that’s the kind of friendship you really want, and that’s the kind that will last even if she goes back to work and you stay home and you both kinda get bored of Baby and Me Yoga and would rather leave the babies at home and go to happy hour together instead. You never know when or where you’ll meet that friend, but they are definitely worth searching for.
Here’s what I would try: I’d invite them to go somewhere with me. If the yoga or story time isn’t immediately followed up by naptime for all the babies, go ahead and put an invite out during the awkward sitting-around-smiling-at-each-other period. “So I think I’m going to grab coffee/snack/lunch at X. Anybody want to join us?” If even one person accepts, that’s definitely a sign that she, too, wants to make an effort to make friends but isn’t sure how.
If you live close by, you can invite them over to your house. That one might be a bit premature, given that your babies are so young and non-mobile. I typically invited people over once our babies/toddlers were more “playdate” aged. Then it seems more about the babies’ need for social/peer interaction rather than your own DESPERATE NEED FOR A GROWN-UP TO TALK TO.
If they don’t seem like the spontaneous types, or everybody typically has to go home for naps after the activity, try asking if you can get email addresses. Or phone numbers if they all text a lot. Then you can plan a group get-together at your home, or suggest a trip to a park or open play at a baby-friendly gym or…something, anything. This might push everybody past that “oh god I want to talk and be friends but I don’t know how oh god it’s so awkward” phase because EFFORT. LET’S MAKE AN EFFORT TO MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN.
Just be prepared for more awkward small talk, and possibly the realization that maybe you actually don’t have anything in common with these ladies beyond the “WE HAVE BABIES” thing. It happens. It happens a lot and it can be kinda disappointing. But it doesn’t mean FRIENDLESS FOREVER. It just means not yet, not with these people. And then you sign up for something else and you try all over again.
I think it gets easier as your kids get older — they seek out their own playmates and don’t tend to overthink it the way we do. Then you see if maybe those playmates’ moms are cool and want to hang out with you, or at least fill up an afternoon now and then with grown-up chit chat while your kids beat on each other.
I think it also gets easier as your kids get older because you get…less desperate and try-hard about it. Like I used to try to force friendships just for the sake of having someone I could call a “friend”…even if we had nothing in common and maybe I didn’t even necessarily enjoy her company all that much. At least it was company, right? Now I’m the first to admit that ain’t nobody got time for that, but somehow over time I’ve made more friends than ever before — some moms, some non-moms. People I’ve met through my kids or my work or my husband’s work and just been: I like you. Gimme your email/phone so I can invite you somewhere. If they don’t go for it, their loss. If they do, yay! Maybe it just takes practice, or getting comfortable being the initiator who makes the first move. Sounds like you’ve got the perfect chance to come out of your own shell and kickstart these ladies’ social lives. Go for it! And then go for it again.