Every mom is new somewhere.
I just had my first baby and entered motherhood. I’m new here.
We relocated away from our family and friends. I’m new here.
I long for friends and am looking for a moms group. I’m new here.
My oldest child just started school. I’m new here.
I just started working again after staying home with my kids. I’m new here.
Any of those sound like you? There are as many ways to be new as there are moms on the planet. (That’s 43.5 million, in case you were wondering!) No matter what the reason, there are some universal truths:
It’s lonely being new. And why wouldn’t it be? Whether you are a first time mom, a relocated mom, a new phase mom … it feels isolating to be, as my 7 year old son calls it, “a noob.” And it is OK to feel lonely. At first. I am going to lean into the microphone and say that again so you remember it.
It is OK to feel lonely at first. The key to loneliness is deciding whether you are going to stay there or not.
Loneliness is a choice. That statement hurts my feelings just to write, so I am sorry if it feels offensive to you. I first learned that truth from my friend, Amanda, a military veteran, who traded her combat boots for a diaper bag when she became a mom. She has moved several times due to her and her husband’s military careers. Amanda said, “I face the choice every time we move on choosing to invest in my community or to be lonely.” And she admitted that sometimes, with her shy nature, choosing loneliness felt easier.
Get uncomfortable. I like being friends with introverted people like Amanda because they help me remember that not everyone is extroverted like me. Even though I am outgoing, I can convince myself that no one will like me so I might as well not even show up. So, I can only imagine how hard it is for people who don’t love making small talk with strangers as much as I do.
I am going to provide some more tough love here and say, just because it is hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. The best stuff in life happens when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone and try something new.
Make the investment. This is one of those “a stitch in time saves nine” kind of things. Do you know that phrase? If you notice a little snag in your favorite jeans, stitch it when it’s small and it only takes one stitch. If you wait, we all know what happens, your big toe grabs that snag as you slide them on and rips the knee wide open. Now, when it comes to pants, holes aren’t such a bad thing these days because some genius labeled them trendy and convinced the world to pay extra for pants with holes in them. Loneliness, though, is never in fashion.
It will cost you time, energy and maybe even some money. However, making the investment in community is so incredibly worth it. Take it one stitch, one text, one play date, one moms’ group meeting at a time.
Here Are My Top 4 Tips to Create Your Mom Tribe:
Be that mom. Learn a lesson from your children and ask someone to come over and play with you.
I was at a mom event where the kids were being watched in another room. At the end, my two sons came running in and declared two boys they’d just met as their new best friends. Their mom, a complete stranger, looked at me and said, “Well, I should probably get your phone number so we can start being friends, too.”
Be that mom. Don’t let fear get between you and connection. True, genuine, in real life connection. Remember, social media enhances relationships, it is not the relationship itself. Get her number and get together.
Be real. Something that brings me far more joy than it should is going over to people’s houses and seeing a mess. Whether it is a few crumbs on the floor from breakfast or days worth of dishes in the sink, it is so freeing to know that other people live in their houses, too. As you start to make friendships, let them see the real you. The real mess. The real struggle you go through. It is so bonding to know you are in the same lifeboat trying to survive.
Be together IRL. A mom recently told me that she does not have a single mom-friend. Not one. My mind was blown and my heart was broken for her. It pains my heart to know there are women going through motherhood without a single mom friend in her lifeboat.
Hands down, the best way to gain mom friends is to join a moms group. It may be uncomfortable, but we already talked about that. You need to be temporarily uncomfortable in order to experience the magic of friendship. My military mama friend, Amanda, told me the first thing she does when she relocates is finds her local MOPS group.
If you are already in a MOPS group, I am preaching to the choir because you know the joy of meeting up in real life and gaining friends who become like family. If you have never been to a MOPS gathering, I double dog dare you to try it out. You can find the one closest to you here. There are over 100,000 moms in a MOPS groups around the world, and EVERY ONE OF THEM was new at some point. So hike up your holey jeans, put on your brave boots, and walk right in knowing your mom tribe is there anxiously awaiting your arrival.
Be open to give and to receive. Another thing that bonds moms together in their lifeboat and overcomes loneliness is taking turns caring for one another’s children. Have you ever tried swapping sits with friends? Kids get playmates and parents get free time to go on dates, do chores, shop, nap, breath, whatever they need. I sit for you. You sit for me. And no one pays for babysitters any more when you take turns tangibly caring for one another.
When I was a kid in the ’80s, my mom had a babysitting co-op with the police officers’ wives. They had a handwritten list of phone numbers, took turns being secretary, and traded laminated tokens as they took turns watching eachother’s kids in order to keep it fair.
When my friend, Amy, and I started a babysitting co-op with our church friends in 2014, it was almost as complicated. We loved the free time but didn’t love the work it took to keep track. So we turned the old fashioned co-op into a modern day app called Komae to make it super easy, not just for u), but for parents everywhere to have a village. In fact, we named it Komae because that means “village” in Greek.
We believe there is no greater force for finding friendship than the combination of Komae + MOPS. Here’s a real life testimony from a mom in Adrian, MI:
We want every mom to experience this joy, so Komae and MOPS are teaming up to help every mom have a Village!
The joy of our hearts is seeing our Komae community grow and hearing stories of parents gaining friendship and free time in all stages of motherhood.
So, what will you choose when you feel lonely?
Remember, get uncomfortable and make the investment. Be that mom. Be real. Be together. Be open. As we say at Komae: Be the village.
Audrey Wallace is a wife, mom, friend, and co-founder of Komae, the babysitting co-op app. She was created to connect people and loves to help parents find community and serve one another. She lives in Akron, OH with her husband Gary and two young sons, Rowan and Abram.