Remember that feeling in middle school, when you were new to a class and you stood to the side and watched a group of girls who had been friends forever? Should you say hi? Should you just stay quiet and wait for them to come to you? Do they even want more friends in their group? These are the flashbacks I have sitting in the kitchen of my husband’s coworker’s house. See, I’m the new mom here. They’ve all been friends for years. We moved here last year. And while this family has graciously invited us to many events, for some reason I still stand to the side and wait for someone to speak to me.
It’s strange when I think about it. I am encouraging my daughter to say hello to the other kids, ask them their names, and then just go play – so why can’t I, in essence, do the same? I’ve never considered myself an outgoing person. I have met most of my best friends in settings like work or school, where friendships develop over shared interests (or dislikes if we’re being honest!) So I struggle with this whole “making friends” thing. As I sit and watch the other moms interact, I tell myself they just don’t need another member of their tribe. I talk myself out of even trying to be in their ‘mom friends’ group.
I wait for that one person. The one mom who will say, “hey, do you want to come sit with us?” like it’s the cafeteria in 7th grade. I’ve learned to not only appreciate that type of person but applaud them. I give someone so much credit for reaching out and asking someone to be a part of something. I ask myself sometimes, ‘how can I teach my daughter to be that type of person?’ and for that matter, how can I myself become that type of person?
I have to step outside my comfort zone. Tell myself I am interesting and fun and deserve a chance to make great friends. There is a lot to be said for an amazing support system that a group of mom friends can make. Camaraderie, shoulders to cry on, a listening ear, and someone to drop by with that bottle of wine you so desperately need.
So while being here makes me feel like an awkward middle schooler, there is a difference between now and then. Finding and making friends isn’t about doing things or changing yourself so that you make friends. It’s about knowing who you are and finding and keeping friends who love you for that. Does this mean I shouldn’t try to put myself out there? Not at all. I should push myself to make conversation and get involved because I just don’t know when I’ll meet an amazing group that I just click with. But it also means that I shouldn’t force it. When I find the type of group where I fit, my tribe, I will know it. So find your tribe, love them hard, but also, be kind and offer that new mom a seat and a glass of wine.