1. heather says:

    Hello Jessica,
    I’m not sure I have any encouraging tips, but I can offer empathy. I’ve been a mom for almost 17 years and your story brings tears to my eyes. I get it! We’ve lived in 7 states/countries during my mommy time and friendship/community has been difficult. I have had good friends during that time, but one of us moves and I have to begin again.
    During my first mama years, my sister suggested that I join an activity group with my daughter in an attempt to connect with others. Even though money was tight, I joined a mommy and me group at the local YMCA. It was a little community of sorts and I made two friends there. Our girls were the same age and we had that in common. Later I would try Mother of Preschoolers groups (MOPs or other groups) at churches, swimming lessons, ballet classes, reading groups at the library, and chatting with people at the park. Many of those things are free and all did actually yeild friendships (this is a good reminder for me in my current situation). It may take some time, but you keep seeing the same people every week… and someone will probably need you too.
    Your letter is a special reminder for me that there are others out there, like me, who need a friend. I too, often feel that people already have enough friends and don’t need me. You are an amazing, loving, caring, generous woman- I can tell from the little you have written here! You have a lot to offer someone else in frienship. You are valuable, worthy and a desirable friend! I’d insert a hug here- because I hear you! And I’d love to meet you at the park! 🙂 Don’t stop reaching out.

  2. Abby says:

    This story breaks my heart. I remember that feeling very well. I was in a new town when I had my first daughter. I had my daughter, quit my job, and was desperate for some girlfriends. At 9 months postpartum I was pregnant again and felt completely alone. I remember trying to connect with other moms, but I must have seemed too desperate or something…I just wasn’t able to connect. I believe I had some postpartum issues/lack of confidence that were making me feel awkward where I used to be very confident and maybe that was a turn-off. Eventually, I decided to just make friends wherever I could find them (regardless of whether or not we seemed compatible). I put my pride aside and asked for phone numbers and play dates. Some of those friendships fizzled out because we weren’t compatible, but some of those women are now my best friends. If Jessica were in my town I’d have her over! I can so relate to that feeling of loneliness. It’s also a good reminder for me to approach women who seem like they might need a friend. Also, one thing that helped me was to go to every event I could where there would be other moms (gymboree class, library story time, etc.). Those moms are usually there trying to make friends too. I started a “playgroup” with a group of moms because there was one mom I wanted to be friends with. The playgroup never happened, but she and I got to be close friends (and now laugh about how I scammed her into being my friend;). Good luck, Jessica. It gets better, I promise.

  3. Sarah says:

    My mind is just spinning with so much to say. I love this new assignment and this focus on community building. I’m actually probably more like the mom who sort of backs away upon first meeting. And not because I’m not interested in connecting but because I have found that I’m slow to warm. It takes me a while (and gee, I’ve learned this best by watching my eldest who is also very much this way) to warm up to someone. I like to spend weeks (literally) doing that small talk, etc before I’m ready for number exchanges, etc. or for finding a time to get together. I’m more likely to do get togethers at neutral places (a park, etc) than our houses at first. And I’m almost 6 years into this parenting gig and realizing that it’s really been in the last 2 years or so that I’ve found my “tribe.” I guess what I’m saying is that community takes time so don’t despair if instant connection is not found. Sometimes we have that with people and sometimes it takes time, time, time to build the relationship. And I do have to say, that this is something I’m working on. I want to be more open. The ironic part of being sort of an introvert who says no to a lot is that I really do crave being part of a “community.” So this is a challenge for myself to be more open to others I meet, because maybe they are a Jessica and need connection sooner rather than later!

    • michelle says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth: “the ironic part of being sort of an introvert who says no to a lot is that I really do crave being part of a “community.”

      I also hold back and it takes me a while to warm up. 🙂

      • Gaetane says:

        Yup, me too!

      • EJ says:

        I loved that comment. That is so me too. I’m such an introvert but I just crave companionship. I want others to reach out to me but know that I need to reach out too. I love being home with my kids but I so desperately miss the friendships at work.

  4. Rachel Smith says:

    Being a mama to little ones can be isolating in and of itself. The day-to-day details consume so much time and energy, that it’s often daunting to even think about getting out to socialize.
    That being said, it’s worth it. Two other ladies and I formed a “Mom’s Group” about a year ago, meeting for coffee at a local shop that welcomes our kids too. We’ve grown to add others that we hadn’t even met when we started out. But it took some time, and we’re all hit-and-miss at times. Kids get sick, schedules conflict, and life gets in the way.
    I believe sometimes the best approach to finding community is being blunt. “I spend all my time with little people that I adore, but I need adult interaction too! I’m thinking about starting a weekly coffee date (playground picnic, take a regular walk, etc.) with other moms, would you be interested in coming?” The answer will likely be an excuse to opt out more times than not. But, sometimes, it will offer something to another mama who also needs it. A group setting might be less intimidating than one-on-one for some moms to begin with. Then, if a connection is made, you can branch out to personal friendships.
    Jessica, I hope this suggestion helps. Hang in there! Beth- Thanks for the reminder of how important relationships are!

  5. Liza says:

    I am a mother of two small kids, an introvert, living in a big city and am far from family and friends. I totally get it! I find playgrounds to be very stressful in part because all the other moms look to know each other and are having so much fun (or helicoptering) and/or are staring at their smartphones. Anyway, I finally joined a few groups on meetup.com and after making myself go to some activities have finally found some other moms and kids to call friends. There are often groups via yahoo groups too. I found that these sort of sites offer smaller communities and helps groups of like minded people to come together. Sometimes it takes a few gatherings or different groups to find the mom or two that you connect with, but it’s worth trying – both for you and your kid.

    • EJ says:

      I joined a meetup group in my area too and went to 2 meetings. I’m sure I should have stuck with it but I was soooo uncomfortable not knowing anyone.

  6. Terri says:

    I could have written that. I dont have depression but often feel depressed. My eldest who is five has moved 10 times. It not only affects us it also affects them, the loneliness. My kids dont have family friends that they can trust, kids they are growing up with. We spend their birthday parties on our own. But this is because we moved so much, if i had stayed in the town i grew up in i would have a very large support network. Instead i moved thousands of miles away. I think there is alot to be said for emigration!! We dont even have family support as both sets of parents disagree with how we are raising our kids and who we married 🙂 I meet people all the time in our new town, say hi etc.. plenty of people think we’re nice but they have friends and i dont think they even think ‘oh they must be lonely and need a friend’ lol they probably presume our social lives are as busy as their’s. Its a shitty situation but i also try and remind myself that its a ‘developed world’ problem and try to keep it in perspective. My kids are safe, we have food and a roof over our head.
    And i just hope that one day we have friends 🙂

  7. Capucine says:

    I am sorry for your loneliness. I was in a parenting class pre-birth that became my mommy circle, but was deeply lonely for my pre-baby friends anyway. It’s a lonely journey, mothering. It sucks to be where you are at. I think a postpartum yoga class tends to have moms who are welcoming. Music Together could also be good because it lasts so long. Arrive early so chatting is possible. The very best is a hospital post partum group, they continue for a year after birth and everyone else is wobbly too. And steal my friend’s introductory line: “Hi, I’m Sunny and we’re new in town. I’m into meeting up at parks if anyone is interested!” And repeat it two weeks later, or starting each conversation. Say ‘We’re going to check out Wednesday!”

    Look for the other shaky looking mom in the circle. She needs you. Be her lifeline!

    (PS. I struggle to meet regularly with my dear friends. I’m not open to new friendships given that. It’s not all you. I’m not so rock solid I can take on a needy friend, I’m striving to stay cheery. I have sympathy but a vibe of depression threatens to take me with it. I am not proud of that, but I wanted to be honest about why I edge away.)

    • riley says:

      Thanks, Capucine, for that last paragraph. I totally resonate with Jessica’s story and feel strongly that this disconnection/loneliness/isolation is a serious issue in our culture. I’ve had times of strong circles of women friends that have been some of the most cherished parts of my existence thus far. But management of that friendship ALSO takes a lot work when the connection and bonding are less simple as people grow and change. I’m the woman who edges away now, though I definitely have gone through some serious life changes and would love to meet new friends…feeling quite isolated myself. I can’t say that I’m proud of my “judgements” but, as a single mom of two who has a tendency to step into the “care taking’ role with my friends if they’re needing/asking for it, I’m wary of anyone who feels like they need a lot of support from me and are “wobbly”. I’m in desperate need of women who are in the season of life where they are going to be ok and not feel hurt if I can’t call them for a couple of weeks or if I don’t have a lot of time and energy to put into the friendship. As I edge away from a woman who is clearly reaching out to me as a possible future friend, my heart aches a little, I question my sanity (since I’m needy of more community as well and wonder if I’m just being a judgmental jerk) but usually feel like I’ve done the right thing for both of us. I guess I’m at the point of hoping that my snap-asessment of our compatibility is mostly accurate, since the pain/time of disentangling when it’s clear that our needs aren’t compatible is something that I’m really wary of right now. (I realize that my comment is just another tale of some hard things going on culturally… isolation, feeling too busy in just dealing with paying the bills and good-momming, etc.)

  8. Dear Jessica,
    I have been a mom for about thirty years. Today I am fortunate and grateful to have three adult children who love me as I am and where I am- and that is also my gift to them. My journey has always been ‘child-centered’. There is no greater spiritual responsibility and opportunity on this earth than raising a child. It is one of the best ways I know of to ‘raise ourselves’. My kids are the best tools available for changing me for the better.
    I am an introvert, and having struggled with bipolar II since my early twenties, I also have an intimate relationship with depression. There is no hurt that strikes deeper and darker. Sometimes when we need someone to ‘be’ with us the most, we are least able take the risk to reach out to another person.
    There is no other woman and no other mother that will be able to offer the world what you have to offer. I am sending out positive juju and sending up prayers for your comfort. I am very grateful to have glimpsed your life experience as it has helped me to fine tune my perspective and see my growth. There is hope, you will reconnect with yourself and others – everything in its own time.
    I see that others have truly heard your need for support and responded. I have faith in that continuing for you. Your courageous and articulate call for relationship moves me deeply. It brought back memories of similar experiences I have had through the years.
    First, please know that many of those laughing, smiling moms in the park break down and cry in their cars- or lay in bed at 3:00 am listening to a crying baby and believe they do not have the strength to rise and attend to them with kindness or gentleness. These feelings are overwhelming and real, and the sense of isolation can be crippling. Attend to your ‘physical needs’ food/water/sleep(right?)/follow-up with a professional should your depression persist.
    You have power and knowledge that you haven’t begun to tap in to yet. There is no escaping the grieving that comes as we readjust our belts, bras, calendars, dreams and hearts. Whether we let others see it or not, becoming a mother changes us forever in ways we never could have anticipated (there are few books written on the subject- you have to live it to believe it!)Beth is doing us all a kindness by her commitment to write.
    My introversion kept me from even considering a mommies group – they were about as appealing as power zumba at the YMCA is for me now! However, there are a few treasures that have come to me as friends through the years-they have come from unlikely places, and some have never experienced motherhood. Your ‘people’ will come too, and you will carry one another as needed along this mystical journey of motherhood.
    I am not feeling well today and see my rambling is not very cohesive – take what you like and leave the rest!

  9. Maria VanderVliet says:

    I am fortunate enough to have really supportive family, and my husband works from home frequently, so i don’t have that same feeling of isolation, but up until a couple months ago i did not have a single “mom” friend. My sister has 2 kids, but i don’t see her that often, and she is very “mainstream” so we disagree on a lot of things. My husband and I have one couple we are friends with who also has a son, but they both work full time so it isn’t easy to get together with them and they don’t have the same perspective as a stay at home mom. It was actually through facebook that I found a group, my area happened to have a stay at home moms group. I joined it back in september and none of the events were really working out, but then in February one of the moms asked if anyone would like to start a playgroup, and all of a sudden we had one! Some of the moms are a little further away than I would like, and we aren’t all bff material, but out of that group, I have found a few that I actually enjoy communicating with, one I have even started cooking with! We get together now about once a week and make a huge batch of something (pizza dough, marinara sauce, chicken enchiladas, pancake mix) while our kids play. Its complete chaos, but it leaves us each with some meal prep done, and usually dinner for that evening ready to pop in the oven, and in between refereeing the kids we actually get to have tiny little snippets of conversation! If you can’t find a group in your area, maybe try starting one! lots of moms feel isolated, and sometimes its easier to connect via something like facebook, when your kids are napping or in bed, rather than trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger who is trying to keep one eye on you to be polite and one on her kid for safety.

  10. Jess says:

    Dear Jessica,

    It sounds like you are having a tough time and even though you are trying to do so much to help yourself it is not working. Frustrating! I think part of the issue may be the venue you are choosing for meeting other mums. I know that when I go to the park with my son I am happy to have a casual chat with other parents there but I am not looking to make friends with them. I look to make friends by joining a group. My group is the Australian Breastfeeding Association (similar to La Leche). That is where I found my people. Now that may not be your thing, but pick something you enjoy doing and go join a group who do it. Book group, knitting group, mum’s group, gardening group, birdwatching group – it doesn’t really matter so long as it interests you. I always find it easier to connect with people in an interest group like that because at least I know we have one thing in common 🙂 I also try to make all my friends meet each other and become friends too because that makes it easier to catch up with them all 🙂 Good luck with your search for friends, I hope you find your people soon.

    From another Jessica

  11. Nancy says:

    Thank you so much for helping me feel less alone! To make a long story short, an introverted husband, son, and somewhat introverted mom (me!) make it really hard to meet other families. I spent the last six months trying to figure out how to make things work, socially. My son doesn’t do well at meet-up groups. Too many people, not enough routine. We tried Music Together, and while it is wonderful, there wasn’t much time for socializing. (Yes, if we did it longer, we would make friends.) But, I’ve decided to try a preschool where I go with both my kids. It is technically for my older son, but they allow my younger daughter. How perfect! It may or may not work. But, most importantly, for 10 weeks, I will spend a few hours with other moms and kids and get to know them. Maybe, just maybe, we will add friends. And, in the meantime, I do need to make the effort to see my old friends now and then. I do miss them!

  12. Diana says:

    In my daughters three and half years of life I have only a couple friends with children her age. Meet ups are few and far between. I think I’ve sort of “given up” trying to make friends, find my community. Having post partum depression in the first year and now a stay at home mom, feelings of isolation were/are a daily occurance. I now have come to accept that making friends and finding community is a huge task but I need to make myself get out there for the sake of our daughter. She is very outgoing and loves people and I worry she wont have a strong sense of community unless i cultivate one. I’ve also been looking to find parent-child preschools and mommy and me classes. I’m aching to find that sense of community for our family, I just wish it wasn’t so hard to find.

  13. Juli says:

    Oh ladies! I, too, have been there. I am a mother to a three year old and a 5 month old and stay at home with them. We have lived in the same place for ten years and I have just made one connection that I would name true friend. The isolation is often very trying for me although I do enjoy alone time. I also have gone to all the story times and Waldorf playgroups and while all the Mom’s are very nice they seem to have no interest in taking it any further than pleasantries. They all seem to have known each other for a long time and have no interest in really including new people. I have come to accept this and to look for community in odd places and with odd people. The school we work at has lots of people who have little to nothing in common with us, but I have started reaching out and have found that while we might not have deep connection they are always willing to help me out and that they feel fondly about my children. I also use technology to connect to family and old friends who I do have deeper connection. The only other advice is to keep going to those play groups because often people let you in when you don’t go away easily! I agree with also going to groups based on interest like knitting ect. if you can find them. It is hard to be a Mom in our culture. We are very often isolated from family and feel like we have no support. But often we need to look outside of the box to find that community. The older women who have children who have left the nest and want nothing but to dandle a baby again or the person you have nothing in common with but still has a good heart and is willing to help out. Also reach out to other new Mom’s who might be feeling the same thing. When going to the playgroups look for the Mom clinging to the wall or who does not talk to anybody and go introduce yourself. Be the change you want to see! I think in trying to build community these days persistence is the key. If you give up easily it never happens. You have to keep plugging away even when you feel like you are not getting anywhere. It is worth it and although I do not have the close “Mom” community I dream of yet, I have found some peace in an odd assortment of people who are willing and able and kind. Don’t give up! Many of us have been there or are there and slowly have come through and found a different way to think of community.

  14. Andrea says:

    Jessica,
    Sending hugs your way.

  15. serenity says:

    I have been there as well, we moved to a new state for a year when my daughter was 2. I spent so many lonely days at the park. . .

    I would suggest looking for storytime at your local library. Seeing the same faces every week makes it easier to get to know someone personally. Also see if the is a local Mops (mothers of preschoolers) or anything else like that in your area. Don’t give up. It took me long time but I did finally make a few friends. Since then we moved back to our home town and I have the greatest community of Mamas I could hope for. I don’t want to leave just for that reason. Hugs.

  16. Gaetane says:

    Hi Beth, this story really got to me on a lot of levels. I’ve had ante/post natal depression too. I remember days when no matter how much ‘connectedness’ I was able to tap in to through my mothers’ group, conversations with my sis or whatever, the minute I was home alone with my kidS I felt ALONE, I felt so far away, so disconnected, so desparate, so EXHAUSTED. So, firstly, sometimes health conditions (I am giving it this particular label because I want to acknowledge it as a real issue, without demonising it) like PND, depression, anxiety and so on make it very hard for ANYTHING to be ‘enough’. Secondly, our judgements can so often be skewed. Jessica looks at those other mums, ‘looking’ all connected and happy, but what happens when those other mums go home? Are they also feeling alone again? I know that, as a generally competent adult, I more than once managed to get to a mothers group meeting with a batch of packet mix muffins, yet still went home and was not able to get a decent dinner on the table. Maybe it’s not that those other mums ‘have enough connectedness’, but that they don’t have enough resources themselves to do the reaching out. They may just be afraid of holding out their hand to Jessica and then falling over themselves. Our mothers’ group had many women come in who were stretched to their limits by their babies and young children. The new culture of people moving around and not having extended family around meant that many of us were doing it on our own, and doing it tough. Those moments at mothers’ group (different to playgroup, as the emphasis was on mothercare, not child care) were like a little balm during my week, but when it came to my PND, I needed heavy duty support and my mum friends could do only do so much. A combination of quality counselling and medication pulled me out of the hole – and gave me the momentum I needed to learn the lifeskills I’d been missing until then. I do think Jessica is on to something – mothers of young children are often REALLY stretched, ‘cos it is really demanding. I think the seasoned mums are probably the ones who have the most experience – which often simply translates to a better perspective (‘oh yeah, that will come out in the wash but this needs attention’) – AND more in the tank to then reach out to others. When my kids were under five, I was like a zombie. I didn’t have much to offer anyone else. Now, I’m myself again, and like in the airplane safety ads, I have my own oxygen mask on – NOW I can more resourcefully help others. I think mothering in the modern world is the toughest it’s ever been, because the standards are so much more complex than they have ever been, and so many of us ARE doing it without an effective community around us. I remember being unable to ask other mums of young kids for help, because I thought if they were as exhausted as I was, then it would be unfair on them. But then I discovered that when kids have other kids to play with, they GO OFF AND PLAY, and it’s actually easier to get things done or even sit down for a cup of tea. And I forgot that it could be reciprocal, for example a friend went to the pool with another mum, and they took turns to watch both babies while the other swam, then had a coffee together afterwards. Not that hard after all – but until I plugged into a mum network, I didn’t know things like this. Jess, I hope you find your mum network – it is so critical to happy, healthy mums. Much love, G

  17. Leenie says:

    Hi, Jessica!
    You are not alone, dear one, for there are so many of us who are or have been in your shoes. I am 52 now and the youngest of our four children just turned 13. Our two oldest (24 and 20) are grown and flown and we also still have a 17 year old here at home. You might think that, at my age, I wouldn’t really remember those early years but I most certainly do. We moved into a new rural community after the birth of our first-born son. We did not know a single person. My husband went to work each day in a neighboring town and I was home alone with my newborn in an old farmhouse and very little money. Nothing was within walking distance according to most people’s standards but we wandered the woods and fields daily and that was a balm for my soul. Still, no friends and lots of quiet. It was a wonderful time for my son and I but, like you, I longed for a friend. Growing up as an only child I was actually quite good at solitary endeavors and self-entertainment. I gardened, learned to identify and use wild plants, read, learned to quilt, and of course played with my son a lot and watched him grow. But, even so, I felt very isolated and vulnerable. Eventually (after a couple of years), I began to make efforts to reach out. My first “friends” were the library workers at the library in the nearest town. I started baking things to take to them on the merest pretext. I mean, giving total strangers cookies for Martin Luther King Day probably earned me the label “peculiar”(sugar cookies cut in the shape of hands colored all different skin tones). I was super friendly with cashiers, making eye contact and really asking how they were doing and listening to their answers. One became a real friend because I happened to ask on a day when she was really depressed about her young son (5) who had a severe stuttering problem and was being labeled as “disabled” before he was even registered for school. I told her that I’d read somewhere that stutterers are often highly gifted and their minds work much faster than their physical mouths can process. She grabbed my hands like a life preserver and thanked me profusely for some hope. (I’m happy to say that he is grown now and, indeed, did turn out to be brilliantly creative and intelligent.) Maybe another year after this I had met enough “friends” (just people who worked in town)to invite them to our home for an autumn pot luck. We live in a place with lots of apple orchards and it was autumn so something really funny happened. These folks who really didn’t know me showed up, although I am sure they thought I was a little nutty. But, here’s what’s funny: Everyone…and I do mean EVERYONE, showed up with an apple pie! I had hot mulled apple cider or chilled cider to go along with it. That really broke the ice as we all laughed about the ‘crazy coincidence’ and started the pie tasting event. It was wonderful. I made some friends and one of them, who had six children and home-schooled, I gathered up my courage and asked her if I could come visit her sometime and find out more about home schooling. She has turned out to be someone as dear to my heart as my family and we’re still friends and wise-cracking menopausal women and have been there for each other through a lot of unexpected changes. It didn’t happen overnight and I definitely had to go WAY outside my comfort zone. I am not saying any of this as a prescription for you. I hope to encourage you in knowing that you are walking a path that many have tread. Look for our footprints and know that you are not alone. Please feel free to e-mail me. It is not the same as face to face but I’ll be happy to brew myself a cup of tea and join you, listening when you need to talk, encouraging you when you need to know that your loneliness is not how this story ends. Take heart, Jessica!

  18. Michelle L. Connor says:

    Jessica, thank you for being so open and honest. Thank you for helping me to see that in the business of my life with my family, to open my eyes and to see those around me. You are my sister by design of all creation and you are loved.

  19. Virginia says:

    I’m grateful for everyone’s stories here. I really wanted community, especially of like-minded moms who were interested in doing what was best for their children vs. following the mainstream. I found Holistic Moms Network (connecting parents interested in holistic health, green living, and mindful parenting) and ultimately started my own chapter in my own town. I’ve found a lot of lovely families this way, and while it doesn’t meet every need, it’s wonderful to have. It takes time and commitment and energy, and sometimes I don’t feel like working on it, but ultimately it’s forming my community AND offering community to other moms who really want it. I’ve also made good friends by showing up at meet ups that don’t even continue – sometimes that one meeting is enough to make a connection. Sometimes online forums can fill that need temporarily too…

  20. Michela says:

    Wow…Is this ever my story. I just moved back to Florida after living two very lonely years in Louisiana. My children are grown so I don’t fit in with the Mom crowd any longer (even though most are my age). The neighborhood I lived in in Louisiana was a nice one…a crowded one…and one where the neighbors drove directly into their garages! I attempted many times to befriend the mom to the left of me. She was having no part of it. All three of her children were school age. She didn’t work outside the home…and yet she would not accept a friendship with me. All the other neighbors were two working parent households that didn’t arrive home until dark-thirty.
    My work brought me home for a few days every other week…which was great! I got to visit my grandson and my daughter….but my daughter was becoming just like that neighbor. She didn’t have time for me. Tv, movies, books, computer and her friends were way more important to her. It was awful coming home every two weeks to be ignored by your own child! That’s when I realized that our society is too caught up in social media. They DONT WANT to communicate one on one, face to face. She was even sending her son to his room to allow the tv to babysit. Well…being the person I am I called her out on it and it caused a huge argument. She has not talked to me in 16 months. I don’t get to see my grandson. And in that time she has married and has a child on the way. I know that the social media and texting can be a good thing…but over use of it has caused many to forget that there are warm blooded bodies out there that really do need human companionship.

  21. I too experienced postpartum depression and had a very hard time connecting to other moms. Eventually, I met some great moms (and dads). Early babyhood was so hard. I felt very isolated. I did join a support group, which helped immensely. I wrote about my experience with postpartum depression on my blog: http://lifesabear.blogspot.com/search/label/Post%20Partum%20Depression

    It gets easier!

  22. Jen says:

    I wonder where Jessica lives and if there are other readers there. I wonder if she might find some local connections on the Mothering “Finding Your Tribe” forum: http://www.mothering.com/community/f/7/finding-your-tribe

    By coincidence, today I started reading Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. I’m only a few chapters in but a lot of the content has been relevant to this post. It says that in a random sample of 3000 Americans, 12% said nobody when asked with whom they could discuss important matters or spend their free time! To me that says that Jessica’s loneliness is heartbreakingly common in our country, and this work of building community is desperately needed. The book also repeatedly mentions that distance relationships are not enough, online community is not enough, it is important to have relationships with people who live in proximity.

    I feel like I have quite a few social connections, but they are shallow. People are so busy it’s hard to deepen them, because there just isn’t space for sharing time. The catch 22 is that I feel like the options are either that I sign myself and kids up for a bunch of activities so we get to see people in the course of bumping into them at these activities, or if I try to open up more free time in which we could theoretically just hang out with friends, we sit at home alone too much while everyone else we know seems to be in that pattern of bumping into each other at activities without time for just hanging out.

  23. Peg Runnels says:

    Dear Jessica, I applaud you for reaching out. I think many people are lonely and don’t know what to do about it, and being a new mom is very demanding and difficult.

    Almost all of the friends I have I met while taking some kind of class: pottery, poetry writing, art. At the poetry class, someone invited me to come to her book group, and we have been friends a long time now. For me, pursuing any interest has been the answer: the worst thing that can happen is that I gain expertise in a new interest, but the best is I get to meet like-minded people.

    It is hard to reach out, especially if people are not very friendly. Here are a few thoughts, though I know that your days are full with the children: make a big pot of soup and carry some to a neighbor; ask the moms in the park for advice, such as where is the best place to meet people or if they know of a book group; volunteer at something you would like to do. I have found that people seldom come to me, I must reach out and join groups and eventually I get to know enough people to from my own group. (My husband and I sometimes invite people to movie night or potluck dinner.) I start off with the assumption that other people are lonely too and would like to be asked, even if I don’t know them well. Good luck, Jessica. Please feel free to write to me if you would like. Peg

  24. DeeDee says:

    Hi

    This sounds so familiar. As a new mom living abroad in France I had a very difficult time making friends in my town post-partum. I would walk baby around in the stroller and foist myself upon any other mother I saw with a baby around the same age. Needless to say, they all ran in the other direction. It took me over a year to connect with other moms and over 2 years to actually set up playdates! Meanwhile, I spent a lot of time walking baby around alone and hanging out at the playground alone wondering what my problem was. I had one American friend with kids who lived over an hour away who I saw occasionally. The only thing that really saved me was to seek out every baby/toddler activity available in town. I went to the town hall and got a list of everything that was free. Of course, almost all the moms there had their own friends and it took me many months to be ‘accepted’ but I finally made it. Not like I really have anything in common with these moms except for the fact that our kids are the same age, but when you’ve got NOBODY you just forget about meeting like minded moms and settle for any mom! Don’t give up, seek out all resources available to you and be open-minded , you’ll make it!

  25. michelle says:

    My son is now three and I am back to work but the mat leave was a long year. My husband works two weeks a month out of the province and my Dad was palliative so my mom wasn’t really able to help much.

    I also joined all sorts of free stuff and was the one who would go to the event and spend the entire time breastfeeding or changing cloth diapers. Rarely did we fully engage but it got us out of the house and I had brief conversations with adults. In Ontario, Canada we have Early Years Centres that run programmes and often I found the staff were incredible sources of support. I have no idea if these types of places exist in other parts of the world.

    I admit the few ‘friends’ I did meet initially I didn’t really like. Our parenting philosophies were soooo different. I cloth diaped, co-slept and bf until he was almost three and they all used disposible, formula and were fans of having infants cry it out. That made it often difficult but I kept going out just to try and save my sanity.

    I did find a few online groups and had moderate success. Life with a baby is one, momstown is another but again, not knowing your geography is tough to be specific.

    You truly are not alone although life with a baby sure feels like it. You are brave for reaching out. Now look at the community you have cheering you on. Perhaps we can all be your support. We could use social media potentially.

    Look forward to hearing you have found support.

  26. Liz says:

    Oh it feels so good to read all of this empathy and advice for Momma Jessica. Really reminds me I’m not alone that none of us are ever truly alone no matter how we may feel from day to day or moment to moment. I can definitely empathize as well, Jessica. I moved to this city I live in 3 years ago and I STILL feel pretty isolated, especially in Mommahood with my 1 year old. After putting in lots of effort, pre and post baby, to find friends and just having very little success – though I must say I have some awesome acquaintances – still no one I could call on a whim for a glass of wine or play date. And having moved here from a place that was BURSTING with community, that’s what makes it tough. It makes you question – am I weird? Annoying? Boring? No of course your not! Keep at it, and know that you’re surrounded by love, even if you haven’t found it manifested in fab lady friends YET. One of my bff’s who lives a long ways a way and I always talk about the fact that we try to remember we have LOTS of friends that LOVE us, but they just might not live nearby. Hope everyone is feeling all the love and support that I am via all these comments! Thanks for bein awesome, ya’ll.

  27. I wanted very much to answer this right away when I read it, but got pulled away by the children, and of course, never got back until now…another example of how sometimes even our best intentions to connect with someone can be derailed by busy lives.
    What I wanted to say was that I’ve been that mother too. We moved when my 2nd child was 2 weeks old and I’m an introvert, and among our group of friends, we were the first to have kids. To be honest, you need a variety of friends with kids: the ones to hang out with, the ones with the same parenting philosophy, and the ones with kids the same exact age as yours…and you might not get all of that in the same place. For me, some of that has had to come from online communities, and while I still find that kind of lacking and wish for more real life connections, I do find that a helpful start (not INSTEAD of real life friends of course).
    Also, as a parent with 3 kids (ages 7,4,2) I might be the experienced parent to the parent of a first baby, but it doesn’t change the fact that I too am stil searching for my feet, for my tribe…and I might feel just as vulnerable at the playground. As an introvert, I find making friends with other parents to be about as intimidating as DATING TIMES 100 because you have all those extra relationship dyads in the mix (me+you, you+my kids, me+your kids, all the kids together). And I have a hard time reading if that pleasant mom is just being pleasant or is she reaching out for more of a relationship. If I was the busy experienced mom who “brushed off” a new mom at the park, it was probably because I was just as nervous and unsure of myself.
    I want to be able to say “Oh it gets easier.” and in a way it does, but in other ways it doesn’t.

  28. Anne says:

    It kills me to know that there are so many women out there having that experience. I am so lucky to have a an amazing group of friends who support each other, even when things get tough. However, before some of these women found the circle we have now, they too felt alone and isolated. The crazy part is that all of my friends are amazing, and whatever community was not embracing them before ours began, was missing out. So Jessica, I believe you when you say that you are not a weirdo, I am actually sure you are great. Good luck to you. My advice to everyone is to start a book club.

  29. Elizabeth says:

    I’m probably offering a little different perspective here, but felt it might be useful.

    My girlfriends tend to call on me when they are in need of a friend. I listen intently as they tell me about their mom life struggles and tell them the great job they are doing, but I always wonder why they aren’t getting encouragement from other moms, rather than me. I am the friend with the opposite life.

    I know there area many reasons: personality, stress, comparisons of each others children, exhaustion….

    but from the perspective of an outsider with insider information, please be kind to one another, because children need to see human kindness daily.

    And Jessica, I think instead of focusing on searching for mom friends, keep reaching out, but instead, to others around your neighborhood. To the wise people with smile lines, to the people at the places you frequent often, to the widow. In time, I think the caring moms will be drawn to you and you will already have such a rich tapestry of lovely people.

  30. Traci says:

    I had a similar experience with my first child. Other moms I knew seemed overjoyed to have a baby and I felt like it was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. The sleep deprivation and the constant attention a baby requires while my husband was gone 8 hours at work was exhausting and isolating. I had mastitis and insomnia and depression. I remember asking moms in the grocery store if it gets easier. I walked everywhere with the stroller just to kill some hours, and the exercise and fresh air were so good for me. I finally went to the door of a neighbor I had seen with a similar age baby and said “I see you have a baby and I have a baby and I was wondering if you’d like to come over for tea” She said yes but I figured she thought I was crazy. She came over though and we talked and I admitted to not really entirely enjoying this parent thing and she admitted it wasn’t the greatest thing on the planet either. I was honest from then on to people about how I felt and it seemed I found like minded moms with a sense of humor that love their kids deeply but that it’s not so glamorous and fun most days. I did have to take that chance though and go knock on a door and beg for company. It was risky but it paid off. So Jessica keep on walking and maybe go a little out of your comfort zone and seek out the other moms and ask questions. Our town has mommy and baby exercise groups and playgroups, see if you can find them in your town or start one! Good luck!

  31. Helen says:

    I hope Jessica lives near me. I’m back at work now and my husband stays home with our 13 month old. He has no community whatsoever; it’s hard for a (quiet, 43 year old) man and a baby to break into a girls’ world. Jessica would be very welcome by our fire x

  32. Bethany Harrington says:

    me too, Jessica. i had my first child at 21 and couldn’t PAY anyone to talk to me. for ten years I mothered alone, and then (ten years) later when i had my second, i tried and tried and finally found a friend. who lead me to another friend. who led me to what i now refer to as ‘my tribe’. who i had to leave 18 months ago. i’m trying my best to find new friends now, in LA (where i grew up… my Tribe is in Washington state) and i fight the depression every day. keep trying my love. and if you’re in LA, let me know. 🙂 you’ll be ok.

  33. jenelle m says:

    Yes, plz don’t forget the middle-aged moms. We were so awesome in our careers but feel like it’s the first day of kindergarten when it comes to maintaining a home and a healthy schedule. Plz don’t forget the middle-aged moms. We don’t, but we feel like we suck at this. Just a text, a note or a nod in the store is worth its weight in gold. Plz don’t forget the middle-aged moms.

  34. Tiffany says:

    Jessica…. where do you live? I would LOVE to be friends with you! I too, go to the park and see women with their friends, I too try to make conversations, try to chat, want to make friends. Years ago, when I had my first child, I started a playgroup which lasted for several years as all us first Mamas had their second ( and sometimes third children…) but then the Mamas stopped coming, their children went off to school and it was just me and mine. My very best friend ( who I met in this baby group) moved back to her home town in MI and I’ve seen her twice since she moved 5 years ago! My children are now 13 and 10 but I had a new baby 8 months ago… and boy, am I ever lonely now! A 40 year old new mama with older children ( one of whom has Down Syndrome ) and I’m basically out there on my own. I do hope you live in my town… we could get together for tea and company every dang afternoon! I bake too, especially when company comes over…!! 😀 I am in Hickman, a small town south of Lincoln Nebraska. If anyone is in my area, get in touch with me, I’d LOVE to make some new old friends!!

  35. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for sharing! I just found your blog today and I think it is wonderful! I can relate to a lot of what you believe and stand for in life. 🙂

    In response to this post, I think that it is very hard to make connections with people in life these days. It seems that most people don’t really want to get to know anyone for who they really are as an individual, or already form judgments about others before even getting to know them. This is definitely a reminder to be kind and be loving to all that we meet and to not be so concerned with ourselves that we can’t open our eyes and our hearts to the world around us.

  36. tricia says:

    Another Jessica here. Try as I might , people just dont seem to want to make new friends here – and Im thinking its a big city thing. (We are in mexico city) . I feel super, super lonely. I understood when we first got here, that my spanish was bad and people maybe didnt understand. But now that Im fluent, there is no excuse! I will keep trying I guess, as all the rest of you Jessicas should.

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