I've never been the best at making friends. In high school I either relied on my childhood friendships or kept to myself. And as an adult I leaned heavily on my romantic relationships instead of branching out and forging new, platonic ones. But then I became a mom and realized "putting myself out there" was a necessity. And that's when I was forced to acknowledge the ways my social anxiety changed how I made mom friends.
To be clear, I have mom friends now and they're incredible confidants who I absolutely cherish. I just don't have very many mom friends, and I don't have the desire to make anymore because of my anxiety. Trying to appear personable, finding the time to hang out with someone, and then getting to know someone well enough to feel comfortable talking to them about my social anxiety sounds, well, exhausting. I don't want to explain why I sometimes cancel plans last minute. I don't want to describe the fear I can feel when my phone rings. I don't want to let another mom know why I won't answer my front door during the day. The friends I have know me, know my anxiety, and know that, for now, that's good enough for me.
But my children are growing up, as children do, which means I have to put myself out there and expand my social circle. In order to do that, I have to be cognizant of how my social anxiety is changing the way I go about making mom friends, which just so happens to include the following:
I Don't Approach People First
As a new mom I went places I wouldn't have normally gone for the sake of my daughter. For example, we'd hit up the mall play area or the park, so she could meet kids her age and have fun. But it didn't take long for me to realize that you have to do more than simply show up if you want to make a genuine mom friend, and approaching someone first is not my forte.
When it comes to making friends, I sit back and let someone come to me.
I Skip Out On School Functions
I used to go to school functions, sit next to all the moms, and try to make a friend. For the most part, though, I just felt awkward and uncomfortable and left out from a crowd I already felt alienated from. So I usually skip out on school functions or only attend certain ones.
I Take Advantage Of Kids' Birthday Parties
If my kids are invited to a classmate's birthday party, I am there. In my experience, it's birthday parties where moms seem to be more eager to meet new people or at least talk to other adults. I mean, you can only hang with the kids or stare at their wild behavior for so long before you need to talk to another adult human being. I've made some solid friendships as the result of children's birthday parties and our shared misery.
My Children Schedule Playdates For Me
If my son or daughter want to have another child come over, I usually let them deal with the details and then meet the parents of the child when they drop him or her off. In my experience, letting the kids initiate the playdate and then figuring out logistics with the parents later is easier, less stressful, and sets up a potential mom friendship in a more organic way.
You know when you're talking with someone new or standing next to a stranger and you can feel the moment when you should say something or ask for their contact information to set up another time to meet? And instead of taking advantage of that moment you let it pass you by until everything is all awkward and uncomfortable?
Yeah, I do that a lot.
I Avoid Mom Groups
I know not all mom groups are the same, but my experiences with mom groups have been rather negative. More often than not they make me feel like I'm back in high school trying to make friends with the popular girls, and my social anxiety just can't handle that kind of situation.
I Rely On Referrals
When a mom says she has this one friend who is really great and who she thinks I would get along great with, I pay attention. Yes, for the most part I prefer to make mom friends on my own and in my own time, but every once in a whole, if a friend of a friend I trust knows someone, I'm usually up for taking a chance and putting myself out there. Can't hurt, right?