I’ve been staring at this screen for a good five minutes and the truth is I have no idea what to write. I’ve actually been thinking about this post for a few days and I still don’t know what to write. To be honest, I’d rather not write this post at all.
I thought about not doing it. I thought about telling you all that I didn’t want to and blogging is about when I want to write (blah, blah) and since I really didn’t want to write this one I wasn’t going to. And that would have been that. I know none of you would have cared, in fact I’m sure you’d all have been very supportive of me.
I should write it though. Not because I said I would or because I feel some sense of obligation, but for the simple fact that I don’t want to. If I don’t want to write this post this badly, there must be a good reason.
And there is. I don’t want to write about finding my tribe because I haven’t yet and it makes me feel really depressed. There, I’ve said it, turns out I’m shit at finding my tribe. At least in real life.
I read this chapter last week and I have to say, it was the first in which I was disappointed. While she has some good advice and useful tips, Ms. Francis doesn’t really address how difficult finding one’s tribe can be. I remember at one point her saying that if you attempt to get together and it doesn’t work out, try, try again. Yeah, that’s great, but what if you’ve tried, tried, tried and tried and it never works. What happens then?
The chapter starts with a list of must-have friends. Every mother’s companion-arsenal should include the there-when-you-need-her friend, the pal whose life circumstances mirror you own, the veteran who’s a few steps ahead and can give great advice (and put things in perspective), the friend who will always tell you the truth and the friend-sans-spawn who can actually meet you for drinks at night. I think all of these friends sound great to have and I would love to enjoy women in my life who fit any of these roles. Heck, I’d love just one friend who lives in the general vicinity (because I do have some who live farther away) and wouldn’t be surprised to see my name on her caller ID if I needed to talk.
The “Making friends 101” section does have some good advice for finding new friends. She recommends tapping such resources as the parent-teacher organization at your kids’ school or mingling with other moms at sports games. If your kids are younger, like mine, the author recommends finding a mother’s group to connect with women who have similarly-aged babies and toddlers. Some places to look for mothers groups are hospitals, local baby boutiques and online forums.
I have to admit, I found this section to be a little frustrating. As someone who has been a part of many mothers groups, one that I even organized myself, I was woefully disappointed to find they all resulted in zero friendships. Despite spending hours with some of these women, and even being invited to a few of their kid’s birthday parties, I would not call any of them friends. I’ve never once called them to chat nor considered asking them for a favor. And while I’ve tried to initiate get togethers what feels like an infinite number of times they rarely work out (and no one has EVER initiated a get together with me). Even when a mother seems interested in getting together for a walk or a jaunt at the local playground the scheduling seems all but impossible. After months of trying to connect with moms in my area (both during maternity leave and after I went back to work) and having nothing to show for it I finally gave up. It’s a lot less painful to stare at a silent phone when you haven’t left any voicemails.
This past week, as an attempt to have something positive to write for this post, I decided that I was going to reengage the mothers of the group I started during my maternity leave. My earlier suggestions of a book club had been enthusiastically shot down so I went for something more simple and less labor intensive – I invited all of them over for a wine and cheese night at my place. A week later I’ve received two (of eight) responses. One yes and one no. So I guess if that one woman wants to come over by herself we can get together, but still, it’s not what I was hoping for, or expecting.
I found the sections on not creating a clique and “putting the ‘end’ in friend” to be pretty unnecessary for me. I don’t have to worry about getting cliquey with the friends I don’t have and I’ve always been a pretty inclusive person anyway. And while I have had to put the kibosh on past friendships I really don’t anticipate any overly eager new acquaintances at this point. Maybe I should send that paragraph to all the mothers I invited to the wine and cheese night so they can better avoid me until I stop pestering them.
For some reason I did appreciate the section on how to be a good friend. While I think I am quite considerate and I know I can be thoughtful, there were a few good ideas I might use if I ever end up finding someone who’s interested in getting to know me. I look forward to texting my friend from the grocery store to see if she needs anything or helping her fold laundry or doing things around the house. Maybe some day. A girl can dream.
There was one piece of information that I felt was relavant to me at this particular (friendless) stage in my life. While the author recognizes how powerful a tool the internet can be to strike up and nurture relationships, she warns against getting so involved in online friendships as to neglect your IRL posse. I sometimes wonder if maybe I’d be more inclined to find IRL friends if I didn’t have my URL buddies to placate me. I mean, without all of you I’d be totally and utterly alone (well almost) and I’d pretty much have to find someone nearby to hang out with. If I’ve taken anything away from this chapter it’s that maybe I need to be trying harder to make friends IRL, even though I don’t know what other avenues to explore.
I wish I had something more positive to say about this chapter. I ache to tell you how awesome finding your tribe can be, but I can’t, because I haven’t. I have met some really wonderful people through my blog and I do now have two amazing friends who don’t live too far away. But I know that when a distance of 30+ minutes separates you and someone you enjoy, you’re not going to see them much even if you’d both love to.
I have found motherhood to be so isolating. I’ve lost or become distant with almost all my childfree friends (and almost all my friends are childfree) and I find it almost impossible to meet and stay connected with other moms. Maybe as Isa get’s older it will become easier. Maybe it will always be this hard. The truth is I really don’t know, I can only hope for a future rich with friends despite a present in which they are sorely lacking.