Thinking back to when I had Bentley 4 1/2 years ago I wish I could sit down with myself and talk about one thing I would do differently. That one thing has nothing to do with Bentley. It has to do with me. I would go back and talk to myself about the importance of creating your tribe.
As a first time mom I thought all I would need was the few friends I had and my baby. I was so excited when we made the decision for me to stay home. I was suppose to go back to work after having Bentley, but after one week of returning that was thrown out the window. When I started staying home I thought all I needed was this sweet little baby of mine. I made zero effort to go to library time, music classes, or introducing myself to other moms at the park. But as the years went on I realized just how much I needed more friends in my life.
Before I go on, I should mention I do have some special friends. Three of them make the group I call the Mom Squad.
They are my go to on the tough days with the kids and when I’m struggling as a mom Also, who I go to when I need some adult conversation while our kids destroy whoever’s house were at that day. Our kids have all been best friends since the day they were born. We have 9 kids between us, and the oldest is only 5. To say it’s a like a circus when we are all together is pretty accurate. But these woman are pretty amazing. Each one of them hold a trait I hope to have one day. Amanda’s ability to stay strong in any situation, Mariah’s wiliness to help whenever you’re in need, and Kim’s ability to reach for her goals.
I also have an amazing friend that reminds me that I’m more than just a mom. We’ve been friends since college while we were getting our teaching degree. She was assigned to me as part of a project called S.W.A.T. It stood for Secretly Watching Amazing Teachers. Kelly was the one assigned to me to watch over the semester. Every few weeks I would leave her a little something with words of encouragement and praise about her teaching. We bonded over our love for teaching, Twilight (yes I was one of those people, and I still love the books), and music. Fast forward 8 years and our friendship is still going strong. We do tons of fun stuff together. We go to concerts, go shopping, take trips to NOLA (she’s my dance buddy once we have a tequila shot), and talk about things that have nothing to do with motherhood. I don’t know what I would do without her.
The only problem with these friendships is that everyone lives at least 45 minutes away, not including traffic. Which means our visits are pretty much every other week or every few months. This can be extremely hard when your only source of human interaction for the day are two toddlers and a baby.
I realized around this time last year just how lonely I was becoming. I would get so mad at my husband when he would go out for happy hour, or try to do something with friends on the weekend. It wasn’t because I didn’t want him to, it was because I was jealous. He was my only source of adult interaction, and I didn’t want to share him. Which wasn’t fair to him. I was also going crazy being at home every day with just my kids. It was hard for my husband to understand, since that situation was what I wanted. After months of feeling like this and having a good cry with my husband. We decided that it was time I put myself out there.
Now I’ve been with my husband since I was 15.
I’ve always been terribly shy and he’s always been there to make up for it. The thought of having to meet people without him was absolutely terrifying. I felt like I was getting ready to start dating when I started looking for local groups to join. Did they have the same interests as me, were they going to judge me for giving my kid Cheetos, what was the age range of the moms, were their kids my kids’ ages, the list went on and on. I eventually found a couple groups I thought I would fit into. However, I would say I was going to play dates but finding reasons to never show. This was my common practice until I found the play group I’m in now. One day the group set up a get to know me post. I had only been a part of it for a week or so. I posted my normal little spill about myself. Then to my surprise another Mom reached out to me! We were both expecting a baby around the same time and she wanted to meet up. I was so nervous but decided it was time to just go for it. I remember driving to meet her trying to come up with a list of things to talk about and what my responses would be. To my surprise the meeting went great! There was hardly any awkwardness, and I thought she was pretty awesome.
After that I pretty much started going to any play date she would be at, that way I would know at least one person there. Then I slowly started talking to the other moms. I found myself finding more and more moms I liked. I even started making my own play dates, and started a little book club for some kid free time. Within a few months I started realizing how much happier I felt. I wasn’t in a bad mood or mopey anymore. Well, I’m still in a bad mood occasionally. I do have three small children, it’s inevitable. But I was finally getting what I was missing, social interaction and friendship.
If you’re wondering if I still hangout with the girl who reached out to me, I do! She cracks me up, is super caring, has also been with her husband since high school, non judgmental, and loves to drink wine. What more could you ask for in a friend? I’m not going to lie, if it wasn’t for her reaching out to me, I don’t know if I ever would have made it to any play dates. She’s also the reason I finally started this blogging journey. She has her own as well. You can follow her at @raisingirishlads on Instagram. She has two of the cutest little boys, and shares some great stuff on her account.
If you’re a first time mom reading this, take this advice. Find your tribe! Reach out to other moms in your area, go to library time, do whatever you need to do to get out there. You’ll need those people on the days when your kid is throwing a full blow tantrum because you won’t let them watch Moana for the 1,000 time.
Also be that Mom that makes the Mom standing in the corner feel welcomed. Because I was that Mom and I just needed someone to make me feel included.
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