Being a stay-at-home and work-at-home mom is the one of the loneliest things I have ever done. When I got pregnant with my first, I was 21 years old. My friends were newlyweds or still single, working full-time during the day and calling the shots on their afterwork schedule.
When I brought my daughter home, my world was rearranged. I no longer had a say on when I went out or who I saw, my days were dictated by her schedule. I returned to work shortly after her birth and fell into a rhythm of working and caring my baby day after day after day. I was lonely, but I was surviving. My friends at work were my lifeline, keeping me sane in my new world that revolved around feedings, diaper changes and a baby who rarely slept.
Things went from hard to harder after my second was born. I left my outside of the home job to stay-at-home full time, working during the small amount of free time I could grab while my daughters slept. My world, once again, was consumed with an infant’s schedule, my toddler’s naps, and the work that filled the crevices in between. I was lonelier than I had ever been, no longer having work friends I could count on seeing each day.
The more time I spent alone, the harder it became to connect with other women. I fell into a routine of waking to my children, working through naps, caring for my kids until bedtime and working again until I crashed. There was no room for a social life, and I became desperate for a friend.
It really took getting to a spot of complete desperation, of feeling lonelier than I ever had before, to push me to put myself out there. I found playdates to attend, joined local moms’ groups and I didn’t give up when things didn’t click at first. One group I joined was a total flop, no one showed up to the first planned get-together and a second was never scheduled. Another group planned three back-to-back playdates and then cancelled them all at the last minute. I left one get-together in tears, so overcome with anxiety because I felt unwelcomed and uncomfortable talking to the other moms at the table.
I’m not telling you all of this to make you feel sorry for me. I’m telling you because I want you to know that I know how hard it is to connect with other women after you become a mom. I have felt the loneliness that fills every part of your day and the guilt of loving motherhood so much, but feeling resentful that your children keep you from making new friends.
I am telling you all of this because I also want to tell you that, eventually, things started to fall into place. I found a few friends at church I had a strong connection with, after weeks and weeks of introducing myself to other moms. I joined a large meetup group that was a part of an international organization, so I knew it wouldn’t disband immediately after I joined. Things haven’t been perfect since, but I have managed to connect with people I really care about who I can count on being there for me if I am having a bad day or just need to vent about the normal, everyday frustrations of motherhood.
Nearly five years into motherhood, I have a hard time believing I was ever as lonely as I was. I am so grateful that I found friends, but I know that doesn’t change the fact that modern motherhood, with our fenced in backyards and busy schedules, is inherently lonely. New moms have to work so hard to meet people who are in their same phase of life, especially since so many moms are succumbing to the temptation of calling online friendships “good enough” because they aren’t up for the risk that comes with face-to-face relationships.
If you are a mom, and you’re lonely, you should know that it is possible to make deep friendships. You should also know they don’t come easy. Keep putting yourself out there, don’t stop trying to fill the lonely void that comes as part of the territory of spending your days caring for little humans.
If you are looking for a place to start, I recommend getting involved in any (or all!) of these organizations until you find a good fit.
MOPS: Mothers of preschoolers is a nationwide organization that has been around since before most of us moms were born. One of the best part of MOPS? Childcare is included as part of your yearly dues.
Meetup: This social network allows for individuals of all ages and lifestyles to connect with one another based on common interests. To find a mom group in your area, simply plug in your information and search for groups based on location.
The MomCo App: Have a smartphone? Download this app and start connecting with other moms in your area right away. MomCo helps moms around the country find other moms who are looking for friends, too.
Thrive Local: This blog-turned-network has grown to include mom meetups all over North America, Australia and even Mexico. To find out if there is a group near you, check out the directory on their website.
Hello Mamas: This is another app you can download on your smartphone that helps you find other moms in your area. You can search for pre existing groups and playdates or create one of your own.
Hey! VINA: If you are feeling especially brave, think about giving this friendship matchmaking app a try. Similar to most dating apps, you can connect with other women based on similar interests and compatible personality traits.