When you are a mother, sometimes finding a girlfriend is tougher than scoring a date when you are single.
Maybe you have moved to a new city. Or you welcomed your first child and most of your close friends are not mothers. Maybe you just made the transition to being home with your child after counting your work colleagues as your core pals. Maybe you have been an at-home mother for a while and just made the transition back to working.
If it is tough to locate one kindred spirit, to borrow that beautiful phrase from the character Anne Shirley, it often seems impossible to consider the possibility of finding a great core group of girlfriends. You may find yourself asking, Where is my Ya-Ya Sisterhood, my Red Tent of laughter and support?
New baby, new friend needs
After I had my first baby back in 2003, I literally wandered around my town for six months with a huge smile and an adorable baby, hoping that I’d randomly make a mom friend.
I knew exactly one other woman in the area with young children, and I didn’t want to wear her out.
Although I now play a mom-in-the-know on the Internet, I was once fellow-mom friendless.
Sometimes I met my former coworkers and single friends for drinks at fashionable bars and brought along my baby. Once a month or so I would tag along to my friend Jennifer’s wonderfully inclusive playgroup of experienced moms with two children. I signed baby Charlie and I up for a mommy-and-me music class and never once ditched. I called my friends and family all the time for long chats (this was so long ago I did not have a texting plan…go on and laugh.) I was not isolated, but I thirsted for more.
It was not until Charlie was seven months old that I found my tribe, my moms’ group. The moms’ group had monthly big meetings and activities every week, moms’ nights out, and small weekly playgroups formed based on the children’s ages.
All of a sudden, my dance card was effortlessly full of outings populated by other stay-at-home, part-time working or maternity-leave-taking mothers. And of course, their adorable children. I made deep, lasting friendships that have sustained me through these past 11 years of motherhood.
National resources for finding moms groups
No matter where you live in the United States, these national organizations can help you find a great group of fellow mothers. All of these listed resources provide search functions so you can find the local group nearest you.
Mothers Offering Mothers Support (MOMS) Club: This international organization of local chapters of mothers’ groups is the moms’ group I found when my son was a baby. Here I made lifelong friends, one of them the incredible blogger Leticia Barr of Tech Savvy Mama, and another the amazing Cristie Ritz-King of Reinvention Girl. We started out changing our babies’ diapers side-by-side in our living rooms and now we blog and network together. Life is beautiful. My son Charlie made forever friends too, including his playgroup buddy Emily, Leticia’s daughter, who is herself the founder of Ribbon Barrettes for Research. (I have to say, there is really good friend juice in the water in my town of Silver Spring.)
Mocha Moms: Another national organization for mothers, Mocha Moms are support groups for women of color (however, women of all colors are welcome.) I have attended several local Mocha meetings and met good friends who are core members, and I know so many moms from all over the country who have said their Mocha Moms group friendships changed their lives.
La Leche League International: Breast-feeding bonds members of local La Leche chapters, but the friendships women and their children make at the meetings and activities last long after weaning.
Local sites to search
Other great places for finding a parenting group in your hometown include those places you might search for other local resources and activities. Here are the places where moms’ groups can be found in my area, and probably yours, too.
Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups: Search for “moms group” “playgroup” and your town’s name and see if you find a list serv for a local mother’s group. If you find one it will probably be invite-only, so e-mail the administrator and write a bit about yourself, where you live, your children and even attach a family photo so you can gain approval. Once you are in, attend an IRL meeting or activity.
Meetup: This awesome resource site is not only for finding hikes and chess games and Jazzercize clubs…it also lists moms’ groups, dads’ groups, and more. Find open activities as well as invite-only ones. Do not be shy about making that online introduction and attending! Meetups are also a super place to find groups for Working Mothers.
Get out there
I know that joining or attending an event with a new moms group takes a heck of a lot of courage. Believe me, I have been there, deciding on which jeans would best hold in my postpartum pooch and which nursing-stretched top would best communicate “New Friend Material” to other moms. Just know that every single member has been in your boat, and everyone is looking for new connections in this big crazy sea of parenting.
Go to that coffee shop, that storytime, that community center playgroup. I promise you, and that beautiful baby on your hip, will have a fabulous time.