I was the first person in my group of friends to have children. That didn't really hit me until, a few months into the whole ordeal, I realized I needed some mom friends—fast.
I went out on the prowl at every party, playground and social gathering. One day I met a friend of a friend, who was expecting. Here was my chance to make a mom friend. She didn't know it yet, but she was going to need the counsel of a more experienced mother: me.
I immediately struck up a conversation and got her number. I sent her a text right after and told her I was going to send her a list of hospital essentials. I invited her to lunch soon after that.
I dressed myself and my baby in our cutest outfits, all the better to impress our new friend. It felt a lot like I was courting her. I had to make a good impression and be on good behavior to make sure she liked me/us.
This was a first for me, really. I had never stressed out about making friends before, when it seemed there was an endless stream of co-workers and friends' of friends coming into my circle. But I have found that making mom friends is easier said than done. It really is similar to dating.
You remember dating, right? That thing you probably did with the father of your children many, many years and diaper changes ago? Too bad I was always awful at dating. If dating was a game, I didn't properly read the instructions. My bad dating habits carried over into motherhood and my ability to make mom friends. Here's how and what, in hindsight, I should have tried instead:
1. If you build it they will come
I threw a Christmas party one year, and someone invited the man who would eventually become my soulmate and the father of my children. I often wonder what would have happened if I never hosted that party. (My soulmate could be with someone else now!)
I was at ease the night we met, because it was my party, so it was almost expected that I should strike up a conversation with everyone. He notes that I boldly invited him into another part of the house where we could chat alone. I can get a bit overwhelmed at large parties where I don't know anyone, but hosting people puts you in control.
After you get her contact information, follow up as soon as you can.
Translated into the mom friend hunt: How about you invite a group of friends over and tell them to bring a friend? This is a good way to meet new people in a stress-free environment (e.g. your own home or the playground). But also make sure and put yourself out there. If a new person invites you to their child's birthday party, make it your business to pull yourself together and go. You never know if your new mom BFF is going to be there. I met mine at my not-yet-a-mommy BFF's birthday.
2. Do not miss the obvious signals
In high school, I had a pretty mad crush on a guy but I never acted on it. I figured he was way out of my league or not interested. He went on to date another girl. Years later, I found out he'd had a crush on me too, but he thought I had put him in the friend zone.
I suspect that happened on more than one occasion. People were maybe interested, but I would miss the signals. Or I would stay uninterested for fear of being rejected. I learned that there was more to lose by acting aloof than there was by just putting yourself out there. I eventually became a bit more bold when I liked someone, and it's a boldness required when seeking mom friends. Do not be afraid to show your enthusiasm for your new mom friend or to ask for her phone number or email to establish contact. After you get her contact information, follow up as soon as you can.
3. Don't be impatient
Remember when a guy used to ask for your number, and you would look at your phone all day wondering when the call would come? Or how you jumped when the phone finally rang or beeped with a text message, only to find out it was your mom asking why you haven't called again? That can happen in the mom world, too.
Let's say you made a good connection with another mother, and you exchanged numbers. Do not fret if she doesn't contact you right away or if your texts go without a response. Just remember, mothers are incredibly busy people, and it's hard to remember to reach out to new acquaintances when you haven't slept in a few days.
Do not limit yourself to moms who have friends with kids your own age.
4.Don't take rejection personally
This was a hard one for me. I have been known to not take rejection lightly. In one memorable instance, I asked for a detailed explanation of the reasons why a person didn't want to date me exclusively.
But I figured out a way to avoid anxiety over one person was to have a few people to simultaneously crush on. Do this for mom friends too. The same rule applies here: there are plenty of fish in the sea. If you don't click with one person, you'll find another. Sometimes the connection isn't mutual and it's not you (or them). If you are pursuing a mom friend and she seems unresponsive after a reasonable amount of time, you just have to move on. It's OK! This just leaves space for the people who are meant to be in your life.
5. Motherhood is a lot more fun, and manageable when you have a support system
Finally, if you are having a hard time building a close network of moms, fall back on these tips, which will get you on your way to finding your mom BFFs. Do not limit yourself to moms who have friends with kids your own age. I have found mothers with older children provide wise counsel on tough days, and they don't forget that newbie moms need your support too.
And give back! Send helpful articles and be there for the mom friends you do make. In friendship, just like in life, the more you give the more you shall receive.