I recently went to lunch with a group of moms. Did I know any of them? Nope. Was I a bit intimidated? Yep! Had I experienced this scenario before, also yep! When one of them told me that I needed to get out more, I couldn’t agree more – except, getting out isn’t always the easiest thing to do when you’re a new mom in a new place.
When I moved to Lubbock last year from a small town in Washington State, I knew that I was going to be facing some challenges. As a mom of a 1-year-old boy with a baby on the way, the idea of moving away from everyone known to me – family, friends, work, EVERYTHING – was overwhelming. I didn’t know the area, the people, nor did I know the West Texas bible-belt way of living. So, all of these things were something I needed to learn if I wanted to keep up with the crowd.
Keeping up with the crowd. Hmmm. When you’re a new mom, it can be hard to find a group anywhere – let alone, when you up and move across the country from your well established social circle. The only things I see when I look around these days are toddlers, toys, sippy cups, piles of laundry, and maybe my husband if I’m lucky enough that he’s home and awake.
The reason for our move was my husband’s job, which is located an hour away. I am home alone with the kids the majority of the time. Home. This new place sure wasn’t feeling like “home.” I needed to get out and find a crowd. But how? I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have a babysitter, and my outings had to be kid-friendly. So, to the internet, I went.
I was pleasantly surprised at my google search results when looking for things to do in Lubbock with kiddos. Within the first few months of life in Lubbock, my 1-year-old and I became quite familiar with the Science Spectrum, the Little Gym, and some of the Parks & Rec’s Parent/Child classes. I was starting to feel like there was light at the end of the tunnel. I put up some pictures and decorations to make our house feel more like home. I was getting out, and even though it was just hauling my kiddo and big ol’ pregnant belly around, it was somewhat filling the social void.
Then the baby came. Our little outings had to be put on hold for a while. There’s nothing like isolation and postpartum hormones to make you feel alone. I needed to get out again.
The first couple times that I felt brave enough to venture out with both a 1-year-old and a newborn, I got a pretty good dose of reality. Even figuring out the logistics of small things like getting both kids in and out of car seats was difficult. Then, once we’d finally get out of the car and into where we were going, inevitably, one or both kids would have a meltdown making us beeline right back to the car and head for home again. I struggled between the desire to get out and be social, and with the reality of my situation. The truth is, it’s so much easier to stay home when you have babies. “One day, you’ll get back out and make friends again,” was something I kept telling myself. Surely, I wasn’t alone in this.
Back to the internet, I went. This time I searched Facebook, specifically for “mom groups.” I was amazed at the number of online communities there were for moms. With the press of a button, I joined several groups. Pretty soon, my Facebook feed was being flooded with random posts from people I didn’t know, giving their “expert” mom advice on things that didn’t pertain to me, or I didn’t agree with, or quite frankly, didn’t give a crap about. Social media was not fulfilling my social void. I needed real people.
I missed my friends and family from back home in Washington, but it wasn’t like I could hop in my car and go for a quick visit. Texts, phone calls, and FaceTime chats were better than nothing, but I still wanted that in-person connection. So, I kept searching online and discovered some more Lubbock groups and resources.
One resource that has been extremely helpful when looking for events or activities to do has been Hulafrog. I subscribed to the e-newsletter, and each week I would get an email with great information for kid-friendly social activities throughout Lubbock and surrounding areas. This was awesome! I didn’t have to go looking through a bunch of different websites; the information was all sent to me in just one email!
I also discovered the Free Forrest School. This is what my kids and I had been needing!!! We needed to get outside and blow steam off – and what better way to do so than with a group of supportive parents who are in the same stage of life as you. The leaders were so warm and welcoming. I loved that it was child-led learning – and not to mention, FREE! It did come with the challenge of trying to keep up with an energetic toddler while wearing the baby in a front carrier, but I began to look forward to these days. Not only was it a great way to get some fresh air outside and give my oldest a chance to run off some energy, but it also allowed me to have adult interaction and meet other parents on a more consistent basis.
Yet, I still wanted something more, something where I could have an uninterrupted conversation, and better yet, a break from my children. That’s when I discovered MOPS. MOPS stands for Moms of Pre-Schoolers. The more I read and learned about MOPS, the more excited I became. I had just started going to church at the Southcrest Baptist Church, which is where the MOPS meetings take place. At MOPS, you can drop your kids off in the nursery and enjoy fellowship, eat a hot breakfast and partake in a craft, or listen to a guest speaker. The first few meetings, I was PUMPED!
Finally, I was getting back out there – back in the social world. I had high expectations of becoming instant friends with every single mom in that room! I, however, was being unrealistic and needed to remind myself that I was new here – developing real friendships isn’t done instantly – it takes time. A lot of these moms have already had time with each other to create those friendships. “Just keep going, just keep trying” is what I had to tell myself. I began to value the opportunity to have that time to myself, kid-free, and the breakfast that I didn’t have to cook! I began to soak up what the guest speakers were saying and appreciate the fellowship that MOPS provided. This group was giving something more than what I had initially expected. It was teaching me to be patient and helping me grow personally rather than socially.
Maybe that’s all I had needed – to realize I’ve got this, and I can do this. Be patient, and the rest will fall into place. Let go, and let God do the rest. Building up a social circle can take years – and that’s without kids! The difficulty of building a new social circle, however, is no reason to give up and hide at home entirely.
I want to encourage you to get out there, keep going, keep searching, and keep trying. Whatever the result may be, know that you’ve got this. You can do it!