When I was pregnant, well-wishers told me daunting tales of sleepless nights, potty-related mishaps, and all the beautiful motherhood moments in between. What I wish came with that advice was how to make mom friends. As an introvert, I’ve valued quality over quantity in friendships. For me, that meant having two or three close friends.
I’ve always been pretty content spending a lot of time alone. But once the cloud of diapers settled, I suddenly found myself needing support outside of my intimate circle of non-mom friends. My life had suddenly changed, and the type of support I craved changed along with it. I wanted friends that could relate to and understand what it feels like to feel lonely without ever being alone. Trying to make friends as an adult, let alone mom friends can be awkward and intimidating, especially as an introvert. Here’s what I wished I knew about making mom friends as an introvert.
1. It requires vulnerability
I quickly realized that the mom friends I wanted wouldn’t fall from the sky and land at my front door with an iced coffee. But when you’ve spent so much of your life appreciating the quiet solitude, it’s daunting to make an effort. Fear of rejection can often shrink us away from even trying something new outside of our comfort zone.
Making new friends often involves some small talk; it’s usually how you discover you have things in common or vibe well with another person. Small talk seems simple enough unless you’re an introvert who low-key hates small talk and prefers meaningful conversations. At times I feel like I’m back in high school, wondering, “What if they don’t like me? What If they see how truly awkward I am? What if they can see that I have no idea what I’m doing and think I’m a terrible mom?”
The other day I took my son for a walk in our new neighborhood and found myself somehow bravely making small talk with a mom who was doing an impressive job of wrangling two older kids while comforting her infant child. I was so surprised and proud of myself for engaging in a conversation with her that it didn’t even occur to me to exchange names or contact information. If I get the chance to become mom friends with someone in my neighborhood again, I solemnly swear to push myself out of my comfort zone and strike up a conversation.
2. Lean into the online community
If your position on the introvert spectrum is close to mine, “mommy and me” classes don’t seem like something that will energize you. During the quiet moments at home, I found myself laughing and connecting with a different type of stranger. On social media, it was easier to comment on and laugh along with other moms about jokes I suddenly understood about the CoComelon phenomenon or the coveted moment where I went to the bathroom alone.
I found Facebook groups to join that were welcoming and open to the different parenting styles, and I didn’t have to feel judged about whether or not I was making my baby food. Online, I made genuine connections from the comfort of my own home that led to sending encouraging messages to one another. I could never forget the kindness shown to me by women I’ve never met, who remind me whenever I forget that I’m doing the best I can.
3. Don’t forget about existing mom friends
As one of the girls in my pool of friends and acquaintances to get pregnant later than the others, I suddenly had more in common with friends I’d drifted away from. I was incredibly grateful for the moms in my life, who I may not have been as close with, that still took the time to reach out and schedule a time to drop off a meal when I was too busy trying to figure out how on earth to cut a newborn’s nails without holding my breath. Since I already knew them, I could avoid the small talk and dive into honest conversations about how things were going. Motherhood gives you another chance to nurture these relationships and reconnect with the wonderful mothers or mothers-to-be already in your life.
4. It won’t always be a match (and that’s OK!)
Just because you are both moms doesn’t mean you’re meant to be friends. Once I would push myself outside of my comfort zone and bravely engage with another mom, I would really want it to work. There were times, however, where it felt like watching a toddler trying to shove a circle into a square puzzle piece, a little sad and frustrating. Whether it’s you or your kids that aren’t compatible, don’t force it. We all deserve friendships that don’t drain us. If the vibe is off after a few attempts, it’s okay to recognize that and let it go. Making friends is hard enough; let’s not make mom frenemies in the process.
5. Plans will probably fall through
If I had a good night’s sleep for every time a well-made plan fell through, I would be so well-rested. We are all busy and exhausted and doing our best. As an introvert, I have absolutely made plans with a budding mom friend, but when the date rolled around, I found myself so tired and drained that all I wanted to do was recharge in the silence.
And I know I’m not alone with this, even if it is for different reasons. Whether it is your kid or your fellow mom who is maybe having a day that requires sitting this one out, being flexible is important. There will be other opportunities to get together and catch up. Don’t take the change of plans personally despite how disappointed you may be.
6. It takes patience
In a world that often celebrates extroverts but tries to change introverts, it is easy to feel like there’s something wrong with you. I’m not going to find the mom friend overnight who gets my need as an introvert not to be “on” around others or understand that I don’t always want to go out, but I do want to be invited or included. Finding the mom friend equivalent of my carefully curated two or three intimate friends is not an easy task. The amazing relationships I have with the special non-mom friends in my life are irreplaceable and one of a kind. So creating a similar genuine connection will take time and effort.
All I can do is keep looking for mom friends who understand that even though I kept wondering how long it was until bedtime, I’m still longingly looking at pictures of my son after he goes to bed. Because friendships are worth it. A friend of mine said, “we’re all in need of the human connection to talk to another person” and I couldn’t agree more.