17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Um... Will you be my friend?

Don’t you just wish you could say that sometimes? Like you were still 6 years old and on the playground? Of course there’s always the chance that the answer would be no, but at least then things would be clear.

So if you’ve read my other post or my profile, you know I just moved. And with that comes the lovely ordeal of finding new people to spend my time with. Can you tell how much I love this process? It’s happening, slowly but surely, but I’ve forgotten how much it’s like junior high crushes - “I like her. I think she likes me, but I don’t know. I could ask her if she wants to get together, but what if she says no - that would be horrible. Or even worse, what if she wants to say no but feels weird about it and I’m a pity friend? Or what if she thinks I’m really weird for asking? Maybe I won’t say anything then.”

I know I went thought this when I moved to NYC, but it’s been so long, I don’t remember it now. And this is the first time I’ve had to do it from scratch as a mom. So I’ve been to a few ward playgroups, I’ve taken Max to some activities (gymnastics, music class, library storytime), and I’ve seen potential mom friends out there, but he’s so wild that I barely get a chance to say hi to another mom, much less get to know her enough to suggest we see each other again. Now I'm not looking for soul-mate friends - my co-bloggers here already fit that bill - I'm just looking for some people willing to bring their kids over to trash my house and willing to let my son do the same to theirs. Some meet-at-the-park buddies. So how do you do it? How do you make new friends? Any ideas?


  • Like you I am a little rejection phobic. I hate making the first move. So the last time we moved my husbad started pointing out people I should approach. Kind of like a dare. "Go talk to her, how bad could it really be, are you that socially awkward?" Sometimes I felt strange approaching people, but it made me get out of my comfort zone. Because of that, I am now friends with several people that didn't fit into my previous "regular friend" mold. They're great. Probably not all soul mates, but good for a kid/meal trade any day. so--Just ask that frizzy haired lady with 5 runny nosed kids, what she does during the week. You never know she may be the best one yet!
    posted by Blogger Abby at 1/08/2006 09:53:00 PM  

  • When I moved to my new ward, I just called a few people up who looked fun to me, random people, and asked them if they would play with me. Some have formed great friendships. Others not so much. It was hard, but worth it.

    I also started a book club in my ward. There wasn't one that was accepting new members so I just called a bunch of people and asked who was interested. I've made some great friends that way.

    It turned out that several people were feeling lonely and friendless and were so relieved when I called them.
    posted by Blogger The Daring One at 1/09/2006 12:55:00 AM  

  • The book club was not accepting new members? red flag...you don't want to be friends with them anyway. Shame on anyone who is not initially open to a new face...because EVERYONE has been the "new guy". As for me, I consider myself to be a good friend and committed and fairly deep...but the last two moves/wards I have been in, I have picked my best friend (little did she know) because of her haircut. So superficial, but it's worked out twice. So...maybe you should scope out the heads in your hood.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/09/2006 05:00:00 AM  

  • My dh and I have moved a lot in our 7 year marriage and I know what you mean. It can be hard to make new friends. Things that have helped me:

    1-Take your time. Scope out the lay of the social land. A lot of times it takes at least 6 months or so to make a keeper friend (in my experience).

    2-Take a class or community course. Focus on something you've always wanted to learn or do. Join or start a mommy group. Organize a "game night" with some women from your new ward/branch. Games are great becaues people loosen up (since we don't drink in this church we need something to grease the social wheels, right?) I've taken pottery, taken specialized early childhood courses, etc. It can be hard to do with young kids-but it is definitely worth it.

    3-Don't be afraid to be alone. If you don't hit it off with anyone still do things you would do with a friend. Leave the kids with dad and go to a museum, see a movie, do some sight seeing. It might sound strange, but this is something Julia Cameron talks about in her book "The Artist's Way." She calls it an Artists Date-and says it helps nourish the soul. Some of my best memories of places I've lived were these times of discovery I had while on an Artists Date.

    4-Don't be judgemental. You never know who could turn out to be your best pal. One of my best friends in the past years was someone I judged harshly at first (and I was MOST definitely off the mark on this judgement).

    I think good friendships come when we least expect it. And maybe someone would really love it if you said, in a silly 5 th grade voice, will you be my friend?
    posted by Blogger Tiger Lily at 1/09/2006 06:51:00 AM  

  • I am of the midset that to make friends you have to be proactive. Once you've been around for a few months, plan party! Start your own book club (http://www.mormonchic.com/dealdiva/bookclub.asp), plan a play date for Max's primary class at the local park or zoo. Not everyone you invite will come, not everyone who comes will like you, but I garunteee you'll make at least 1 good friend. Chances are she'll have more friends to introduce you to as well. Do the women in your ward (shudder shudder) scrapbook? Have a scrapbooking party (I am not a scrapper myself), I have seen women flock to these kind of parties like seagulls to dead fish!
    posted by Blogger HLH at 1/09/2006 07:28:00 AM  

  • HA! Like seagulls to dead fish! Made my morning!( not a scrapper, either...)
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 1/09/2006 07:58:00 AM  

  • Is there an early childhood PTA where you live? I was an ECPTA doubter ("Why do you need a PTA if you're child isn't even in school? What do they do, anyway?"), but when I finally broke down and went, I met the most awesome, friendly and inclusive group of women ever. I realize now the women who take the trouble to join usually do so because they are looking for other fun moms to hang with.
    posted by Blogger Allison at 1/09/2006 08:01:00 AM  

  • I'm so bad at this....and I'm about to start over again in DC. My usual strategy is to wait for people to approach me...and I've been fortunate that a lot of really amazing people have made that effort.

    I'm going to try and be a risk-taker in DC though...and you should too because if you are rejected it truly is THEIR loss that they didn't know you!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 1/09/2006 09:46:00 AM  

  • let me know when you figure it out, huh? i usually just let the universe drop them in my lap, so it can take some waiting.
    posted by Blogger mindy at 1/09/2006 10:43:00 AM  

  • I'm going to be in the same boat here really soon. Making new friends is by far the scariest thing about moving for me. I just say a lot of prayers that I will be able to find good friend and more importantly, I pray for help to be the kind of friend that I am looking for.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 1/09/2006 10:53:00 AM  

  • Marian, I was in the same boat just a few months ago. When my husband and I moved to CA and into our first ward, looking back I was totally anti-social (kinda depressed from leaving so many great friends in NYC and convinced I had nothing in common with people living in the middle-of-nowhere desert CA). Needless to say this wasn't a great approach and my situation never improved. However I knew we were moving to LA in a few months and so I think I just detached myself a little from that first ward. I, too, prayed and PRAYED for girlfriends in our second ward. I learned from this experience that I really need some great friends around to sustain me. We finally found our LA apartment and (lucky for us - or maybe it was all those prayers?) our managers were this great LDS couple. When my husband went to sign the lease he flat out said to our manager, "Will you be my wife's friend? She really needs friends"! I guess he was pretty tired of 1)my whining, and 2)that he was my only friend within 3,000 miles. So I guess my husband did some of my dirty work for me (much to my surprise and embarassment). Also, my husband and I made a goal that in our second ward we would hit the ground running, meaning volunteering, signing-up, showing up at tons of activities, being gung-ho (sp?) about callings, going out with the missionaries, and saying "yes" to invitations to dinner, etc. We made sure to invite people to dinner and even had a Christmas party at our apartment (despite fears that no one would come). I think putting forth the effort lets other people know that you want to make friends. Of course this approach can always backfire and you will end up like us (singing at EVERY activity and being asked to sub, speak, run errands ALL THE TIME, etc.!) BUT saying that, I would rather people know that we are here and available and eager to meet new people than holed up in my little apartment wishing for friends. I don't know if any of this helps, but I have met some really great girls who have extended themselves to me, and while sometimes it feels exhausting to make new friends ("why can't they just know me as well as all my old friends do?"), you will have a different connection with these new people because this is a new place in your life. Also, I don't know about you, but it always helps me when I can find couple friends, too. Are there some guys that your husband has connected with in the ward? You could invite their wives over, or have dinner with another couple? Then you have a partner-in-crime and aren't always out on your own to be friendly and make conversation. Maybe that's hard with a kid... I'll soon find out. Good luck, be brave, and ANYONE would be thrilled to meet a friend like you! You are a perfect example of the girls I was PRAYING and PRAYING for!
    posted by Blogger Beth at 1/09/2006 12:19:00 PM  

  • Food is always a good start, particularly if you're the one supplying it. E.g., "What are you guys doing after church -- do you want to come over for dinner?"

    Of course, this requires a small amount of planning in advance (house minimally presentable, dinner of something other than top ramen and PB&J's). But it's pretty doable.

    Of course, go easy on the first dinner -- no chicken marsala unless you're sure that they won't freak out. And a discussion of blood atonement and Joseph Smith's polyandry is probably a bad idea to start out with.
    posted by Blogger Kaimi at 1/09/2006 01:44:00 PM  

  • I used to be painfully shy. That is a completely unbelievable thought to the people who know me now, but social settings made me want to cry.
    So what did I do? Well, I'm a firm believer in "fake it till you make it". I decided to walk into a room and talk to at least three different people. I plastered a smile on my face and hoped for the best. Sometimes all I did was ask about their kids, (how old, what kinds of fun things are they doing, etc...)and sometimes I knew enough about them to have something real to start with (that talk was great, I love the way you dealt with your kid when he was upset, etc..)I have to second the hair thing though, because it speaks volumes about a person. Buttoned up people don't usually have edgy hairstyles. Ask about clothes, kids clothes or kids accessories you like that you've seen someone with. If you're new to a place ask about their fave places to eat or shop, I know that always gets me gabbing.
    I always think of a few questions to ask before I start a conversation. That way I avoid uncomfortable silences, I have a few minutes to pull myself together, and the other person gets a chance to talk instead of just listening. If you try a few new people at every gathering then think about how many people you'll have met in a month. Then you can work your way down to the few you really want around.
    It was always hard and I constantly wanted to beat myself up after a conversation, but it has worked out well and now I'll talk to anyone!!
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 1/09/2006 06:01:00 PM  

  • Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. I'm going to do my best to be a bit braver and stick myself out there a bit more. I think part of what is holding me back is that I'm having to figure out how to approach moms in the "real world" as opposed to my ward, since there really aren't that many young moms in my ward. It's one thing at church, I think I'd be totally fine asking someone over for dinner or to get together, it seems more natural there to me. But I mom I chat with at library storytime is a bit more of a leap, but I should just DO IT. :-) I'll keep y'all posted.
    posted by Blogger marian at 1/11/2006 07:41:00 PM  

  • You know what, I have approached women on the street who look like me: young moms with a few kids...and I have asked for their email. I can think of 3. And I got one to go to playgroup, and the other just never seemed interested when I called or invited them by email. Maybe it was too weird that someone approached them on the street, maybe they are anti-social.

    If a free playgroup that was easy to get to and had decent women was available to me, I think I would be confident enough to attend, but maybe the association with religion is too much for them. If there was no mormon community, I think I would be ok with most religious playgroups...but you're right Marion, knowing other members there is just a lot of common ground there that is assumed.

    It's an interesting question to explore, are women who don't otherwise have an organization of women just floating in the universe and depending strictly on family? I think Sunny and our unnamed contributor, the doctor, would be great commenters on this phenomenon.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/12/2006 05:20:00 AM  

  • I have moved a lot but I think it is getting harder as I get older, and now that I am a mom my social interaction is a bit different. We've been here a year and a half now and I still don't feel as I have found any soul mates. I did the same as you and joined two playgroups, story time and tumbling classs, so Nephi could make friends, but I have met some nice moms along the way. I am so glad about the church too, it is easy to make an instant connection.
    posted by Blogger Brandolyn at 1/12/2006 07:58:00 PM  

  • Oh, Marion. You KNOW how I feel about this one. We've been here in CA for 1 1/2 years now and I still don't feel "rooted". Partly because in my heart and soul I'll always be an NYC, East Coast girl, but mainly because I miss my friends and the life I had there. I've met a few people here in CA, mainly through various wards (we attend 2 - totally different and complicated story) and I'm grateful for the friendships I've made there. I actually STARTED a playgroup because there wasn't one in existence. I did it mainly so that I could meet people; also good for Simon and Sophia. And a few "good ones" have come out of that endeavor...but still no "soul mates". I feel that my closest circle of friends no longer exists in a close circle - all of us NYC ladies have spread out and moved around the country. Luckily we've been able to keep up with each other...but its just not the same.

    I have resolved this year to try a little harder to "find my people" (as dh and I always put it). I swear this process gets harder as I get older and acquire more kids!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/14/2006 04:34:00 PM  

  • As I will be losing one of "my people" in a few short weeks. Tear...I have been emotionally preparing. I found an article here that really resonated with me. I think what we are searching for, might not ever exist again actually. Our situation in NYC was not only unique because of the quantity (check the side bar on our homepage) and quality of women, but because we had a special bond as first time mothers, that is hard to replicate. But I will keep searching if you will...and always return back to the crib.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/14/2006 07:32:00 PM  

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