Saturday, January 21, 2006

Breaking into the Momforce

Subtitle: How to Meet Other Likeminded Moms

So, you need a job, you polish up your resume, and try to break into the workforce. Easy enough. There are books published about how to do this. What about the stay at home mom? How do you break into the Momforce?

My family and I moved to a new town about 5 months ago, and I am having huge friend withdrawals. We only moved an hour and a half up north, but sometimes the distance is a little depressing. Being a Stay at Home Mom can be lonely at times. When I lived in Portland, I had a regular, albeit small, group of mom friends I'd get together with on a regular basis. For instance, every Wednesday morning, one dear friend and her son would come over for coffee. We would sit and chat, while the kids played. I met these moms all before we had kids, when I was still in the workplace, full time. Last Thursday, missing my coffee conversations, I packed up the kids and dropped in on this friend of mine. What a breath of fresh air!

So, rather than drive to Portland every week, how can I break into the Momforce, and meet some other Stay at Home Moms, whose personalities are in sync with my own? Easier said than done. How to meet moms? Sometimes I feel like this is more stressful than dating! Here are some of the things I'm trying/have tried/will try:

-Storytime at the library: We go faithfully, every Wednesday. Books are a big part of our lives, so maybe I'll meet another mom and co. with the same values. So far, no luck. Moms come with friends, and chat pretty much only with each other.

-Church: I tried this about 4 years ago. I taught Sunday School for a half a year, hoping to meet some new people. I learned a lot about the Bible, but it turns out I'm not a very religious person. So this was not a very good idea.

-Striking up Playground Conversations: We live 2 blocks from a playground, so in good weather, we go there on a regular basis. We've met up with a lot of kids and their parents, but no connections have been made. It's the same experience I've run into when taking my sister's dog to the dogpark: I know all of the dog names, but heaven forbid we talk about ourselves! I know all of the children's names AND ages, but nothing about the parents. Conversation comes to a dead end. Why? Does every other mom out there already have her own social world, and not need another friend? I doubt it.

-Join the La Leche League: I attended a meeting, but although I love breastfeeding my son, I can't wait to wean him, and to start wearing dresses instead of pants and skirts. And getting together to talk about breastfeeding, well, that's right up there with teaching the Bible. It's just not me.

-Convince my friends to move up north: I'm working on it.

-Future Things to Try: Attend a French Speaking Luncheon (it's ongoing, every Monday). Look for a bookgroup to join.

Any other ideas? Do I need to start a website, MomMatch.com: How to meet Likeminded Stay at Home Moms? Here's what I'd advertise:

On the Move - Coffee Loving SAHM interested in occasionally hanging out with likeminded SAHM. Interests: books, the Brontes, grammar, hiking, cooking and baking, languages, children, picnics, gardening, field trips.

-StuntBec

6 comments:

Michael said...

You should post that ad on Craigslist.com. I'm sure you would get a response or two...

(Even though it seems your ad would be a good fit, I would avoid the women seekeing women category.)

StuntMom said...

At our library, we have this great woman that makes it a point to introduce herself to every new person that attends storytime. Not only does she introduce herself, but if she is around another friend, she usually introduces them too. With this, everyone feels welcome. Why don't you become the welcome wagon at your story time and not wait around for someone to come up to you to strike a conversation?

I too have found that I don't have much to say to new people outside my children when meeting in such a situation as the park. Maybe you can look at speaking of only the kids as a first date. How often when meeting someone new can you break into the "have you seen that new movie or read this book", as an appropriate first conversation. Sounds like you need to give these people more of a break. I am often at a loss for new conversations with new people since I don't share a history with them. Maybe suggesting a play date will open up more of a reason to have additional conversations.

Also, your ad sounds a little snobby... Could you say you like books without specifying the Brontes? Although J. Erye is a good read, I'm not sure I would pick my friends based on the mutual love of that author. I have a friend that reads nothing but trash, but we still enjoy each other's company....just not book choices.

Branch out StuntBec.

StuntBec said...

Harsh! Now, I must defend myself. I don't walk into a new social situation with the expectation that everyone will stop whatever is going on and talk with me. Look at me, everyone! Talk to me, I'm interesting! Contrary to what you may think, I do not wait for others to chat with me. It makes me uncomfortable, but I DO introduce myself. I DO make chit-chat about the kids. I HAVE tried to set up a playdate with a mom from storytime (okay, just once, but we seem to be the only "regulars" there). She was vague. Haven't seen her since. I've called friends of friends, to set up a playdate. But it feels like I'm in high school again, and am just not a part of the click. Am I a social leper (that's probably not very PC, is it?)? No. I have friends, just none that live near me now. It's hard, as an adult who is not in the "workforce," to meet other adults. New England is notorious for being a tad on the unfriendly side, for good reason. It's true! Once you're in, you're in. But how to get there?

Now, the ad. Snobbish seems a bit harsh. My specific tastes makes me who I am. So I love the Brontes - what's wrong with that? Lots of people do. Is liking 19th century literature make me elitist? I would hope that my personality would put all at ease. You don't have to have published a recent article in BronteNews to be my friend. True, in my bookclub in Portland, I did pick Jane Eyre as our novel. Sadly, no one liked this choice, but amazingly, we are still friends.

Part of being a happy stay at home mom, for me, is to keep some of my "past" identity (before I had kids) alive, along with my newish "Mom" identity. This is something new for me, and it really makes a difference. So, although it seems silly, I LIKE the fact that I mention the Brontes in my ad. I REALLY REALLY dig Charlotte and Emily Bronte. I think about them and their novels A LOT. Doesn't mean I won't be friends with you if you don't give a hoot, and prefer lighter readings. Proof: in one bookgroup, we read Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume. I did not dish dirt on the woman who selected this book. I didn't think any less of her. I read the book with as open a mind as possible.

So, I'm more than happy to branch out. Rather than critique my somewhat introverted personality (which most people don't even realize), give me some fresh ideas of WHERE I can branch out.

And moms out there, let's see your ads!

Jayne said...

While I've never been a total stay at home mom, I have held an academic position that allowed me to spend the past 6 summers at home with my kids and most Fridays. What has been the biggest support to me in terms of making adult connections within the kid world has been the presence of great neighbors. My neighbors with children and without have become like an extended family to me. There is usually very little planning; I'm on my way to the Art Center with the kids so I call a neighbor to see if she wants to bring her kids too. Outings like this are usually so much easier with another adult. We have even started a bi-weekly potluck dinner that rotates houses. If you decide to enroll your child in preschool, that will become another great outlet for meeting other parents. Our daughter attended a parent cooperative preschool so we were thrown together with parents on clean up crews, fundraising, landscaping, etc. It's definitely hard to make friends while a 5 year old wants a push on the swings and a two year old is wandering towards a dog on the loose.I like your idea of creating a flyer or ad of some sort that you could hang in the library or local coffee shop. I do think it's important that in the ever so kid-centered world we live in, that adults take time for themselves too. I didn't think your ad sounded snobby at all-you want friends for you-not your kids. Kids can make their own friends!
My suggestions:
1. Invite some neighbors over for a casual potluck-kids welcome.
2. Take a class (or audit one)
3. Start the Bronte sisters book club. I bet you'll get some takers.

StuntMom said...

Hey I like the idea of a neighborhood potluck. It would be a great place to start. You could even do fliers to invite the mom from story hour that might not live in the neighborhood.

You are right, coming up with a good ad is a true challenge. I think mine would go something like this:

Wanted- a friend with kids that my kids can play with without picking up bad habits. One that doesn't cancel every week. One that doesn't judge my messy house or my parenting skills. No republicans please.

StuntBec said...

Now, StuntMom, you thought my Bronte reference in my ad was over the top...is your ad tongue in cheek, or real? If you think a kid has bad habits, isn't that judging parenting skills?

Sorry, I'll try and lighten up. :)

I liked the idea of posting my ad on the library bulletin board. I won't put my ad up, but I will put a flyer up for hiking moms. It would be fun to have some company on our weekly hikes.