I feel I’ve mentioned it no less than 20 times in the past month or so, but it still amazes me how we, as a family, have slowly sneaked into a new phase. 5 and 3 years old means busy days but with a more open schedule (and still plenty of whining, but I digress…). Our days are full of activities and conversation with a multitude of friends. I was thinking recently about how this phase differs so much from those first couple of years when cabin fever and loneliness could rear its ugly head thanks to sticking to schedules and working on creating a new part of my identity, as a mom.
The best thing I did during that early mom phase was to reach out and start creating a network of friends and support, even if that meant letting others see the mess (of my house, of my hair, of my emotions on sleepless nights). I fully believe that we as humans are hardwired to need connection. Nowadays we so often sub social media for real connection because it’s easier to scroll insta than to go up and talk to a new person, but social media (while it’s capable of producing real connection; I have friends that are proof of that) is more of an observation than a real connection.
Where is all this coming from? Well, I was inspired by a woman I met only a couple weeks ago. I was sitting a few chairs down and I heard her mention something about homeschool. Looking over, I noticed our kids looked close in age. I couldn’t help myself, so I found a pause in conversation and leaned over to introduce myself, explaining I heard her mention homeschool and we would be starting in the fall. It turns out she’s embarking on her first year of homeschool soon too and our kids are indeed, close in age. It could have all been left here, in this friendly conversation, but instead, excited to connect with other moms that will be in the same boat as me, I asked for her name and number to connect again in the future. In return she asked for my email.
About a week later, I received an Evite from her for a play date with several other local moms, all with kids around the same age and a couple that would be homeschooling too. I feel grateful for this new connection and was impressed with my new friend’s ability to assemble a group of moms and kids and make something happen.
That’s what it takes to create friendships, or any kind of real connection, I’ve learned. It takes someone being bold, reaching out and saying hey, I like you, let’s chat. It is so simple, yet so many moms I’ve talked to stay isolated out of fear of rejection.
I understand the hesitancy. No one wants to feel rejected or hurt; those emotions suck. I’ve gotten some real gems of comments on this blog and emails that, I won’t lie, have really upset me. They are things I’m sure people would never say in person, but many are emboldened behind a keyboard. I also know they probably come from people who are struggling or hurting themselves, so I do my best to morph my hurt into understanding. Sometimes it happens faster than others.
The best advice I ever received as a blogger or honestly just as a person is as cliche as it gets- Be you. If I like who I am (and I do!), then I will be OK showing my goofy, unpolished, big-hearted personality. If someone finds me obnoxious, that’s OK. I don’t have to be liked by everyone (I’m slowly embracing…), but at least if I’m true to who I really am, people will weed themselves out and I’ll be left with those that I truly connect with.
You’ve seen me write stupid things, make more grammatical errors than a journalism grad ever should, endure parenting mistakes, fail in ventures, but that is what has developed our real relationship.
And still with all my mistakes and the occasional hurtful comments, I don’t let myself fixate on those things (for long) because do you know how many friends I’ve made, experiences I’ve had, and things I’ve learned from putting myself out there? There have been far more positives than negatives that have only come by putting myself out there.
In my experience, I’ve found that most other people are looking for connection too, but someone has to be the one to reach out and ask for a name, a number, a play date, a wine night. Be that person.
I feel SO blessed by the friends I have around me and by the connections I’ve made with you online. I’ve bonded with people I never have met in person, yet feel connected enough with to cheer along with their life milestones (babies, moves, etc).
Being vulnerable may mean I risk looking dumb at times and people may mistake my openness for naivety, but I’ll risk it every time because the reward of connection is so worth the price of vulnerability.
“The reward of connection is so worth the price of vulnerability.”
So I guess I just want to encourage you that if you are a new SAHM feeling like you are in a world of isolation, a working mom that wonders how she can connect with others that understand your unique challenges, a non mom that is looking for other non mom friends, and you come across someone that you feel a pull towards, SAY HI. Ask their name, get their number, and reach out. It may feel weird at first but the more you do it, the more comfortable you will be.
I would have missed out on so many friendships and experiences if I would have chosen to not start this blog, say hello to that stranger, or asked to be given a chance.
How comfortable are you with vulnerability?
I’m certainly still a work in progress, as I continue to squash my desire to please and own all my quirks, but I’ve come a long way and am getting better every year.
Have you gone through a period in life where you needed to make new friends?
How did you do it? Was it difficult?