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When I was hopelessly single in my early 30s, I went to see a therapist. "I want a relationship," I told him on day one. He asked me why I thought I wasn't in one. I rattled off the answers: I've had my heart broken recently. Single guys don't like me. I don't know where to look. I'm not into the bar scene and online dating is not working.
In all, I had about 10 excuses at the ready.
It took less than three sessions for him to diagnose a much more fundamental problem: "You have no space in your life for a relationship." He was right. I worked about 50 hours a week, ran every Saturday morning with a running group, volunteered on Sunday mornings, and kept up with all my friends. It was a full-time job being a third- or fifth-wheel at all of our social gatherings. I had set commitments every single day of the week.
The one thing I didn't have was free time, which was essential to forming new relationships. At first, I protested that when the right guy came along, I'd shove my other commitments to the side. My therapist was skeptical. "Maybe you're too busy to see the potential relationships right under your nose." I wasn't sure, but I slowly made more space and guess what? I ended up dating, and then marrying, a guy who worked down the hall. Right under my nose.
Making space made all the difference.
I see moms huddled together after a spin class taking a sweaty selfie ... I burn with envy and wonder: Where are my ladies?
Fast forward 12 years, and I'm in a similar quandary. Except this time, instead of pining for a healthy romantic relationship, I'm wishing for deeper connections with other moms. I'm still looking for my tribe. In my Facebook feed, I see moms huddled together after a spin class taking a sweaty selfie. I see them doing breast cancer walks, bar hopping and going on long weekends to exotic places like the French Quarter and the Kentucky Derby. I burn with envy and wonder: Where are my ladies?
In a blast of deja vu, I brought it up with my therapist (same one). "I can't seem to connect with other moms as deeply as I'd like to." As with my search for love, I had my excuses for why it wasn't happening: Other mothers already have their friends. We live too far away from the kids' school. Most of the moms don't work outside the home.
And just like before, I could have given 10 more reasons why my connections with other mothers feel fleeting and lack the nourishment I crave.
But as soon as I heard the excuses, I knew the answer, in part, was the same as it was years ago. The buck stopped with me. Me, who is scheduled to the hilt, always running from work to a workout, followed by a school play or karate demonstration. I race to book club from the kids' swim lessons or to relieve the nanny. I never give myself the chance to simply hang out with other moms before or after school or at the kids' activities. I run my life like I'm always on the clock because I am, but also because I'm better at being busy than making friends.
But what if I eased up a little bit? What if I sat out of book club one month? What if I got to my desk a little bit later one morning because I had coffee with another mom? What if I hung around after soccer practice? If I make more space now, will I find my tribe, just like I found my husband?
I suspect the answer is yes. The tribe is probably right under my nose. My future besties are my neighbors and the moms I see in the car line and at parent events all the time. Maybe if I slow down, I may find exactly what I'm looking for.