Motherhood can be a lonely endeavor. However fulfilled we are with our children and jobs and families, we are often without meaningful adult conversation for hours or days at a time. The most common complaint I hear from fellow moms is how hard it is to make new and genuine friends—the ones that allow and encourage you to really open up. These moms can be hard to identify at first, but they are around. So when you start to hang around the baristas at Starbucks, asking how they really feel about the new mocha-caramel-peppermint-pumpkin latte, it’s time to work on finding new mom friends with whom you can relate, rejoice, commiserate, and be your frazzled, cranky, delightful self.
These seven tips may not be fool-proof, but at least you’ll be interacting with people who are not paid to have to talk to you. All you have to lose is a little pride and possibly a lot of bottled up confessions about this crazy thing called motherhood.
1. Determine your most important criteria for your new mom friends. Remember that nobody is perfect, so you may have to compromise. Here are my list tops: Did you see last night’s Dateline? and, Is that a bottle of wine stashed in the bottom of your stroller?
2. Approach all potential new mom friends with an intriguing opening line. I have found that “#$@% I was close to putting the kids out on the street with nothing but a bag of Oreos this morning,” weeds out the women who can’t stomach cursing or hyperbole. (This also weeds out moms who will judge your breakfast food choices.)
3. Know how to interpret responses: Is she dialing 911? Best to keep moving. Silence. Don’t give up. She may be recalling the last time she locked herself in the bathroom with a pint of mint chocolate chip. Nervous laugh. This can be a good sign. She hasn’t met anyone like you. (Just ease up now on listing all the places you’d be happy to leave your children.) *&%^ yes, me too! Congratulations, you met your soul mate.
4. Bond over clothing or accessories you have in common. “I have those SAME yoga pants,” works for me. This is similar to recognizing gang colors, I am told. (Hair scrunchies, head bands, and cardigans with pockets are also easy items to spot; you are likely wearing two of these items at any time.) Approach one potential friend at a time. In other words, separate your prey from the pack. Groups of moms are difficult to crack. Wait until one is left behind at the playground. She won’t see you coming.
5. If you are lucky enough to have a child melting down in public, gauge the reactions of the moms around you. The one extending a fist-bump is your gal.
6. Be persistent. If your first attempt leaves you disheartened, try again. Try with ten or twenty women until you find one mom who, like you, is waiting for someone to share embarrassing stories and frustrations and laughs that accompany raising little beings.
7. Give someone an opening to tell you how she dosed the kids with Benadryl after the third sleepless night. Nod if someone tells you she often pretends that tantruming child in the grocery store aisle is not hers. In the meanwhile, enjoy your status as the weird mom who makes everyone a little uncomfortable. Know that all the other moms secretly envy your courage to be honest (and probably your yoga pants).