My Facebook Village

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Before I had babies, I always thought I was just destined for motherhood. It was my calling. I always believed I'd be pretty good at it. I would be loving and nurturing. I'd read books all the time with babies snuggled on my lap. I'd do all kinds of fun crafts. I'd take them on special outings and be the fun mom. I'd link up with all these cute, fun moms I'd see going on walks in masses while I was pregnant. They'd be my friends. Our kids would be friends. 

Then I actually did have kids. And when I had my first, it was during a time when we had just moved into a new neighborhood, I'd quit my full time teaching job, and I didn't know a single person around me except for my Moroccan neighbor across the street that patrolled the streets like a neighborhood watch. I'd always go for long walks with Lucca as a baby and our dog, and he'd always stop me to play with him and fill me in on the latest gossip. For awhile I felt like he was my only friend. I had his number in case of emergency. He was a good person. 

For months I forced myself to take Lucca to the library for storytime, going the same days every week to give myself some kind of routine. There was always a playtime after, but I always felt silly sticking around when Lucca couldn't even sit up. I'm not the type of person to strike up conversation over baby talk, so after the 30 minutes I'd pack up and leave to go home. We'd go to the playground on nice days, and once Lucca could sit in a swing I'd occasionally have small talk with parents happily swinging their babes in the middle of the day. It felt good to be out, but I'd always tuck him back into his stroller, and walk the few blocks home back to our little bubble. That's what it felt like, anyway. 

When I was about 8 months pregnant and sitting in our new house waiting for Lucca's arrival, I found out who those stroller-walking moms were, and joined a neighborhood moms group on Facebook. From what I could tell, these chicks were already friends, they'd done playdates on the regular and threw fun parties and moms-night-out events. I didn't do much with them until Lucca was almost 5 months old. I mostly just sat back and read posts like the awkward girl in the back of the room with nothing to say. Occasionally I'd chime in needing baby advice-- the usual, "why isn't my baby sleeping anymore", "what are your suggestions for the best stroller" type of thing. 

Then when it was finally warm enough outside, the stroller walks started up again and I couldn't wait to be a part of it. A time of day where I had to "be somewhere", I could exercise, and meet new people. My usual rigidness of naptime scheduling went out the door on those days. I kept Lucca awake just to be sure I'd make it to the walk on time. I was desperate for adult interaction. Desperate for mom interaction. 

I did this for a long time, never really building any actual friendships but rather just the occasional "oh hey!" when I'd run into those moms at the library or playground or grocery store. It wasn't until Lucca was almost two that I actually hosted playdates, met up with moms at Starbucks, or attended any group events. 

Then finally, I found my village. And Thank God I did. I never thought I'd ever be "that person" to meet friends online, but that's what I did. That's what I had to do. It took me a really long freaking time to find girls I clicked with. And actually had things in common with-- not just the fact that we both had kids. It's difficult making friends this way. You want to be yourself, but show your best self so that you are well received. You want to be honest and not be judged. All my life I made friends BEGINNING with common interests. And now, I had to learn this ass-backwards way of making friends as an adult and find people I really clicked with. Adulting is hard, man.

Thankfully, I have my village of moms now and haven't felt lonely or in a bubble. I could share my second pregnancy experience with other pregnant moms. I could ask for help, I could lend help. I've had to put myself out there and though it took me a really long freaking time, I'm so glad that I did. I look back on those early months with Lucca and now realize just how lonely I was during that time. Funny how that works out, right? How motherhood can make you feel so incredibly lonely if you don't have the right support around you. 

I've found my village, and I'm so incredibly thankful. Thankful to find people who make me feel supported, understand when kids are just assholes, understand when you just need to vent and complain and have a glass of wine at 4 p.m. (or the occasional margarita on "taco night"). Thankful to find people who will help you out in a pinch and be able to return the favor. Five years ago I would have laughed at the thought of making friends online. But being a part of this little group has normalized my feelings of motherhood (happiness, sadness, frustration, guilt, etc..) and has helped me find a great group of women I never would have met otherwise.

If you're a new mama and a bit of an introvert, go ahead. Be that quiet person in the corner of the Facebook group. But do get yourself out there, on your own time, in your own way. Chances are you'll meet people who are a lot like you, and hey, your kids might even like each other too. 

Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg. I'm eternally grateful.