I see it over and over again. There are so many lonely moms out there who feel hopeless. They feel like they don’t have any real friends. There are no deeper connections being formed. No one calls or texts to check on them. No one knows the little things that go on each day. No one seems to care about the struggles and triumphs of their little family.
I see it online so much. Moms flock to groups where they can brag or ‘vent’ about these things. They seek advice from strangers who don’t know a thing about their life and they cling to every word. They soar high at the praise of strangers and are utterly destroyed by any sort of negativity.
I see it within our own local homeschool group. Moms show up once… maybe even two or three times. But they are quiet and shy. They are wallflowers who observe but don’t participate. Their child might make a friend after a few visits, but then we never see them again.
Why does this happen so much? Why are moms so lonely?
I submit to you the fact that we do it to ourselves. And it’s not an easy thing to get out of the habit of. But I also would like to suggest that if YOU are a lonely mom, if YOU are the wallflower, there is hope for you!
I am an introvert.
It’s true. I am a very introverted person. I love my ‘me’ time. Quiet. I can spend hours alone with my own thoughts and not feel at all put out by it. I have even imagined that if I were ever to be stuck on a desert island for years, even, I very likely wouldn’t go crazy. I think I’d enjoy it for at least the first three or four years! Does that sound like you?
I also struggled terribly with making friends. It was so very hard for me to actually TALK to people. I can’t stand small talk. Weather? Seriously? You can’t build a relationship on the fact that it’s been raining a lot lately. Nope. That is just not for me.
Then again, you can’t very well just walk up to someone you’ve never met before and say something like “How do you feel about the fact that there are people in the world who DON’T use an Oxford Comma??” (Now this – This is a question you can build a friendship on! lol)
So how do you do it? How do you put yourself in a situation where it’s not only possible, but actually LIKELY, that you’ll end up creating the kind of deep relationships you are craving?
Step One: Participate
This almost feels like a no-brainer, but I feel like we really need to start here. There are SO MANY momma’s who are feeling over-extended already and they couldn’t possibly fit another thing into their schedule. But – If it’s important to you to develop real friendships, you have to participate. You have to get involved. You have to help coach the track team even if you can’t run. You have to help set up at co-op, or commit to running the fundraiser or volunteer in some other way that will put you in the trenches with other moms who are just like you.
I know – This is outside your comfort zone. You don’t want to seem like you’re trying to control anything. You don’t want to be the one in charge. You don’t want to commit to something you aren’t sure you can do. Maybe you don’t want to ‘people’ because people-ing is hard for you! I get it!
The key to this step is creating shared experiences. The best relationships grow out of something that is shared between two people. It could be that you sign up for an art class that meets once a week. It could be that you volunteer at the local animal shelter. It could be that you help with music at church. Just pick SOMETHING to commit to participating in! ANYTHING that involves other people.
Step Two: Be Real
This one is even harder than step one, I’ll grant you that. It’s easy to make stuff up when you’re talking to new people. You want them to think well of you. You want them to like you. So you share only your BEST and nothing else. Or the flip side of this is that you are so sure they aren’t going to like you once they know how terrible you are at keeping house, so you tell them all the worst things about you and never share anything good.
Both of these situations aren’t the truth. You are both wonderful and terrible! lol The key is in recognizing your own strengths and your own failings and being very real about them both. Do you have a talent for creating beautiful meals and treats? Volunteer to bring a dessert to the potluck! Terrible at housekeeping? DON’T volunteer to host the potluck! 🙂
Step Three: Ask Questions and Listen
Ask other moms about how their life is going. How are they doing? Is there anything they need help with? Jump in to help clean up after co-op! No one will say no to that, trust me! lol And use that time to chat. Get to know each other.
Just listen when they want to talk to you. Listen and feel free to share your own experience with them if you think it might help. But listen. BE the friend you want to have. Don’t be afraid to reveal that you have struggles. Sometimes people won’t approach you because they view you as too perfect! (I accidentally did this in college when I was majoring in piano. Apparently, I put off this virtuoso vibe and it kept people at bay for a year and a half. It wasn’t until I purposefully made a mistake during a performance that people started talking to me! lol)
Step Four: Not All Friends Are Best Friends
Understand that not every friend you make is going to be your BEST friend. But Good Friends and Good Acquaintances are worth having, too! When a Good Friend is struggling or going through a difficult time, bring them a meal, offer to take their kids for an afternoon at the park. It’s okay to do that sort of thing for Good Friends that aren’t Best Friends. And you should still invite Good Acquaintances to join you on that homeschool field trip, or to sign that Get Well card for your Good Friend. 🙂 It’s all about BEING the friend you want to have.
And you can never tell when a Good Friend or a Good Acquaintance will become a Best Friend!
Step Five: Don’t Look Now – You’ve Got A Community!
In all this DOING for others, in all this BEING a good friend, you’ll discover that you GET lots of good feedback. Not from everyone. And you should never DO just because you hope to GET. You should DO because you want to. But you will get. You will get Good Friends who help you when you’re down. You’ll get Good Acquaintances who drop curriculum on your doorstep. You’ll get Best Friends who check on you every few days, who know the ups and downs of your life, who celebrate and commiserate and help you in the trenches. And before you know it, you’ll have yourself a full-on community that you can continue to build by BEING and DOING. 🙂
If I can, you can!
Just 6 years ago, I was the lonely mom. I would get ignored at events. I would be the wallflower hoping someone, anyone, would suddenly become my BFF. But this isn’t how relationships are built. You can’t sit inside hoping. You can’t go to an event and clam up. You can’t hide in plain site and expect to find friendship.
You need just 20 seconds of bravery! (If you haven’t seen “We Bought A Zoo” you need to watch that movie immediately – that’s where “20 seconds of bravery” came from.) It only takes 20 seconds to push yourself into doing something outside your comfort zone. Once you start it, it’s easy to keep going. It’s taking the first step that is so hard!
So be brave for just 20 seconds, momma! In 20 seconds you can convince yourself to get in the car and GO. Maybe you need another fit of bravery to get OUT of the car and ENTER. Perhaps 20 seconds more to speak up. That’s only 60 seconds. One minute of being brave. And it could lead to a lifetime of joyful friendship!
What are you waiting for?