By Alicia Barnes, liciabobesha.com
In my rural, southern town there aren’t any of the meet ups I hear moms going to. There is a MOPs chapter about 20 miles away, but they meet during the work day. If I had that time of day free, I’d just go to the park when I knew stay-at-home moms would be there.
Yet, with my husband in school and without family close by, I have to meet people for my two year old to play with or else I’d go crazy. I mean this mommy can only sing “Do you wanna build a snowman” so many times.
Meeting people here before I had a child was challenging. Now with a toddler, it’s more so. I have to find parents and a child who we both like, available when we are, and with compatible enough interests. While things have not been as successful as I’d like, I have made some progress in making, meeting, and keeping mommy friends by focusing on the following areas:
1. School – My son goes to a child development center while I’m at work. When I’m dropping off, picking up, or attending an event, I make sure to talk to the parents of his classmates. If I see them around town, I stop and talk and suggest we should get the kids together some time to play.l did this at the grocery store once and got invited over for a playdate that very afternoon. I particularly focus on the classmates my son mentions the most at home. Many parents want nothing of socializing with their kids’ friends from school, but some of our best play friends have come from this.
2. The Park – I go to our community parks often. I started seeing the same families again and again. We ended up becoming friends on facebook so we could coordinator our park visits ensuring we wouldn’t have to be the only ones riding down the slides with our kids. What I didn’t anticipate from this was in the winter, these meets ups moved indoors and we had people to play with still on the coldest days.
3. Community events – Arts festivals, college football tailgating, outdoor concerts, and the farmers’ market have offered chances to meet other people while letting my two year old run around. Sometimes after running into the same people at different locations and our kids playing well, we’ve exchanged contact info to plan future playdates.
Despite my limited resources, I have been able to build some small playgroup resources. Not as robust as I’d like. I haven’t found any other black moms to play regularly with, but I’m always looking for the opportunity. I know my life would be enriched if I could find friends for both me and my child who shared more than just a similar schedule.
Most of my problem is most of the time when I’ve met moms who have kids the right age who I think I could be friends with, they are on a stay-at-home schedule and/or they move away. Such is life in a college town. People come and go in masses as the semesters end.
In a lot of ways, becoming a mommy has been a lot like starting at a new school. There are existing cliques, some of which I know I’ll never be accepted, not that I want to be. There’s a lot of awkwardness while trying to figure out exactly who I am as a mom. There’s more loneliness than I expected. There’s a lot of putting myself out there without lots of solid returns. I get discouraged sometimes, but then I have a weekend like this one: a birthday party, a farm tour, two conflicting playdate invites with one reschedule, and plans for tomorrow with potentially two different families. Things are looking better and better. I just have to keep looking.
Have you had trouble meeting, making, or keeping mommy friends? What tips have helped you build your tribe?
Alicia lives in a small college town that often challenges her resolve to live as simply and as stress-free as possible. When she’s not working, rereading the same children’s books, cooking, or wondering how crunchy she’s become, she’s busy updating her site, liciabobesha.com. You can follow her on facebook.