I’ve seen countless articles lately about the loneliness of motherhood … I’ve even written a few of them. Trying to make friends when you’re a mama isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a lot like dating with all of the effort and disappointment as you try to find your tribe in a busy schedule.
I’m right there in the trenches with you. I scroll through social media and see a ton of pictures of moms together on weekend trips, girls nights out, and posts that profess their undying friendship love to one another.
I try to make myself feel better by thinking, Oh yeah? Well I bet at least two women in each group can’t stand each other so I’m not completely missing out. But that’s my jealousy talking. I don’t have what they have and it hurts. I don’t have close enough friendships with other moms to really say that I have a tribe.
I have friendships, but nothing really very close in real life. A lot of it is my fault. I have been disappointed in the past with trying to arrange get-togethers with other moms in high hopes only to have plans fall through at the last minute. Seriously, if one out of five moms can’t make it, they all fall like dominoes more often than not. After several attempts of trying to get busy mom schedules together, I retreated in bitterness and angst. Some of them already had their tribe or family close by and didn’t know how much I needed one of my own.
But I’m out there trying again. You have to keep trying. If you give up and wait for your tribe to come to you and just fall into your lap, it will likely never happen.
It’s understandable how some tribes never happen. There’s an initial awkwardness in meeting new people, because then you run the risk of moving mountains to put in the effort to make friends and then ultimately discover that you maybe aren’t as compatible as you thought, or don’t have much in common.
What if she judges me because I don’t feed my kids the purest food from the gods? Or because I vaccinate? Or because I don’t? What if she sees the real me underneath it all and decides I’m a whacko? What if underneath it all I decide she’s a whacko? What if I don’t really fit in? What if our kids don’t get along? What if I develop close friendships and then move away? Do I really have enough extra time to dedicate to something else with everything else it takes to run a household?
It isn’t like male friendships. Two guys can decide that they both like fishing and cars and be friends for decades, but with women there’s a lot more to it and it’s more complicated. It has to be just right in many cases. With mom friendships, it also sometimes feels a lot like being back at the junior high dance. Boys on one side, girls on the other, waiting for someone else to make the first move. And it’s so hard to make the first move, isn’t it?
Especially in today’s ultra-sensitive culture where any word you say can be held against you even though you may be speaking with honest intentions. We are often so scared to offend. It’s no wonder people retreat back into loneliness because that’s often easier and safer than running the risk of saying or doing something wrong or taking up our precious resources of trust, time, and attention.
But I’m trying again, and it’s worth the effort even though it’s a slow burn. Even on the recent outings I’ve attended, I was really glad that I went. I went to a mom’s workout group where we walked on the trail at the park for a few miles, and I went to a fancy olive oil tasting with some other moms and I had a glass of wine or two. I got some much-needed fresh air and exercise, learned something new, and had a few good laughs. So I encourage you to take a chance.
It’s so important to have mama friends in real life, in addition to online. Kids and husbands are great, but they just don’t get mama issues like other moms do. It’s all so much and we need an outlet in person too.
I don’t think that any ride-or-die pairings happened immediately on the meet-ups I’ve gone to, but forming friendships and finding your tribe takes time. It’s easy to give up and think “Oh, what’s the use” but hang in there, lonely mamas. Keep trying to find your tribe, the face-to-face is important. They’re out there. I’m trying, too.