Someone wrote to me on Instagram asking me to talk about how I found a group of mommies to hang out with or how I survived without one (p.s. thank you for the suggestion!). Well, spoiler alert: I (barely) survived without one. Luckily, you don’t have to do the same. I’m going to get a little deep in this post at the beginning which is why I think I’ve subconsciously avoided writing it. I apologize for how long it is but I do think that a lot of women can relate to this. If you just want tips on finding your squad, scroll toward the bottom! Anyway, here it goes…
The Backstory: Me & My Friendships
In my life I’ve had a lot of trouble making friends. Well, let me rephrase, I’ve had a lot of trouble meeting the RIGHT friends. In middle school, I hung out with a group of girls who wound up turning on me (because a boy one of them liked, liked me) and they made my life hell. I got death threats, was told I should kill myself, had my house egged and was forced to eat alone at lunch. After a while, they accepted me back into the group only to do the same thing all over again in High School when I needed them most. It felt like the whole school was against me, including the boyfriend who had just broken up with me after 6 months of dating and years of being extremely close friends. My very worst memory of that time was going to a house party for my best friend Shawn’s birthday party when a group of over 15 of my old friends (including the ex-boyfriend I was very much still in love with) surrounded me and started screaming all sorts of nasty things at me when I was sitting quietly at a table. I was called “disgusting” “ugly” “unwelcomed” “a loser” and worst of all a “slut” by the very same ex-boyfriend I refused to have sex with while we were together (I was a virgin when I left high school). My friend Shawn (the one who passed away a few years ago) ended up physically carrying me out of the party because I was crying too hard to even walk. I really have been traumatized by my time in middle and high school. Even though I wound up with a beautiful family and a beautiful life, I’ve always wondered why I wasn’t good enough for them.
Flash forward to my adult life and I still feel like I am trying to chase friendships. I’ve met a couple of good people along the way that I love very much but I’ve never been able to have a lasting group of tight friends. My life has been full of for-the-moment friends that I wanted to last forever and frankly that I wish had reciprocated feelings. It’s been a lasting theme in my life that I feel like the odd girl out. I get left out of things that my “friends” do and I’m rarely the one that someone calls to have a girl chat. I remember my girlfriend telling me once that she loved me but she hated that I always hung out with assholes. At the time I took it as a dig and brushed it off, but in the last few years, its really got me thinking. I’ve been hurt so much by people I really care about and I can’t stop wondering what’s wrong with me. After a particularly hurtful episode last year, I asked my psychologist to help me figure out what I’m doing wrong to make these people not want to include me in things. I’ve been told before it was “jealousy” and I’ve always thought that was such BS. The girls I was hanging out with had no reason to be jealous of me. But, my psychologist explained something different to me. Insecurity. Now, we all have insecurities but not all of us are insecure people. She told me that I was attracted to insecure friends who don’t mesh well with me because I am secure with who I am. I stopped her and said “but so many of them are prettier than me and have more going on than me” so explained that it doesn’t matter what someone looks like or what someone has, it doesn’t mean they are happy with who they are. Then I started to get it. As many insecurities as I do have (my body is never right, I hate my voice, I’ll never be a perfect parent) I do love who I am and the life I have. I’ve worked really hard to become a better person as I age, I’m intelligent, compassionate, a happy wife and a blessed mother. I think I can be a lot for some people to handle who don’t feel the same way. I’ve been told time and time again that when people first meet me they think I’m “intimidating”. I never knew what they meant by that, but the psychologist explained to me that many people are intimidated by a strong, confident woman even if she lets her guard down and is kind and friendly. They have a hard time relating to someone who isn’t afraid to be unapologetically themselves. It seems clear to me that I’ve spent a lot of time surrounded by people who were not compatible with me.
Anyway, I say all that to say this. I am attracted to the WRONG friends. I think because I was part of the “popular” group in middle school and they all turned against me, I’ve spent my life trying to fit in with the “cool girls” again. Some good that has done me! I’m 27 years old and I can count on less than one hand how many real, long-term friends I have. I can only think of one friend (who is male) that I would ever call just to shoot the shit after a long day. I mean how sad is that? I see all of these people posting about their girlfriends going on trips or having dinner together and it honestly makes me want to cry. I find friendships with some of the football wives in every city but as soon as I move the friendships dissolve. If I got married again today, I truly don’t know more than 1 friend I still talk to enough to have as a bridesmaid. I am sure a lot of it has to do with our mobile lifestyle, but the remaining problem is who I am surrounding myself with. So, I have made a commitment from now on to give my heart to people who are open and willing to receive it and keep surface level friendships as just that, surface level. I am committing to putting myself out there a bit more to new types of women who seem secure and happy in their own lives and can accept me as I am. This may take some trial and error, but honestly, I NEED this. I need strong women in my life that I can relate to and rely on it. There is nothing quite like female companionship especially when you’re a mother.
How I Found Women to Relate to Postpartum & How You Can Too
If I’m honest, I did a really shitty job of finding a mom squad and I’m sure if I had worked harder at it, it could have saved me a lot of loneliness in the early months. I had SO many of my birth and postpartum care team suggesting I find “mommy and me” groups or “mommy/baby yoga” and the thought of it made me CRINGE. First of all, I hate friend dating. Second, I really hate going somewhere alone and be forced to talk about who I am. I think that is partially due to eventually having to tell people my husband is a football player and watching the judgment (good or bad) sweep over people’s faces. Third, (forgive me, please) but I thought only weirdos went to those type of things. Let me just say: wrong, wrong, WRONG. If you are a new mom without other mom friends already built into your life it is time to buck up and put yourself out there. When Andy retires (which will be very soon) and we move back to California full time, I will ABSOLUTELY without a doubt be joining these groups. You totally don’t have to join a baby-wearing group or yoga class if that isn’t your thing but find something that interests you or makes you feel comfortable and go for it. Things as simple as story time at Whole Foods or the library or an infant class at Gymboree. Or, if you’re a germaphobe like me in the early months, you can find a stroller walking exercise group or a breastfeeding support group where your baby stays with you and away from other people. Whatever you do mommies, find other women you can talk to and more importantly RELATE to after you become a mom. Your non-mommy friends are fantastic but they will not be able to relate when you say you LITERALLY have slept 3 hours a night for a month or that your nipples feel like they were cut with shards of glass. Other moms will help you feel so much less alone and truly make you feel like a better parent. There is nothing like hearing another mom say “I have no idea WTF I am doing.” Because I refused to put myself out there in mommy groups, I would talk the ear off of every person I met when I was out at a store or in an appointment just to get some sort of adult interaction. Now that I’m able to be a bit more independent from Lily and I’ve been meeting more moms, I realize how nice it would have been to have them around me when I needed a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on. Now when I’m at the park or the pool or play class and I see another mommy with a child close in age I’ll start talking to them. They are ALWAYS receptive and kind. If I think that I can see myself getting along with them, I’ll ask for their phone number and try to set up a playdate. You don’t even have to be in a scheduled group or class to do this. Take your baby for a walk in the stroller to a park and look around for other women who have babies your age. You can even reach out to people you already know. I hung out with my chiropractor who has a son who is 2 months younger than Lily and I recently reached out to the sales associate I use at Louis Vuitton who has a 2-year-old. I have yet to have another mom be unreceptive, in fact, most women tell me how they, too, would love to meet other moms.
Just remember mommies, if you feel a certain way there is a great chance that the mom sitting on the park bench next to you is probably feeling the same. Use your new-found power as a mom to get out of your comfort zone and find your squad. Keep an eye out for people who are not worthy of giving your heart too and seek out the ones that will make you better. This is not only your homework but mine too. With my second baby on the way, I have no choice but to find a support network I can lean on. This is going to be a transformative time for us all, mommies, I can feel it!