Bay Area Mom Seeking BFF: Humor is A Must!

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Portrait of Four Young Mothers with Their Babies

Moving to the Bay Area has been a very socially humbling experience.

I always thought I was good at making friends, but it turns out I’ve relied heavily on my husband’s easygoing nature and the built-in friends that came with medical school and residency. The truth is that I am actually pretty shy and more concerned about what other people think of me than I want to admit. I can also be a bit lazy when it comes to initiating social gatherings. A big part of me just wanted to have good friends magically appear, bringing with them many common interests, same-aged children and identical parenting styles.

Back to reality… After I surfaced from the stress of moving with a baby and a toddler into a tiny house, I looked around and realized I was struggling in the social department. I was also spending a lot of time home with the kids. Social isolation plus speaking “toddler” all day led to a drastic increase in caffeine and wine consumption, some unhealthy Netflix binging, and frequent FaceTiming with my mom. I decided I needed to make some changes- and fast.

My first plan was heading to the playground. I felt surely I could meet some nice moms at the park who were also looking for someone to share their toddler woes and sleepless nights with. But it turns out, it is really hard to progress past small talk to the actual “Exchanging of Phone Numbers”. It felt kinda weird to ask for another woman’s digits. The playground began to feel a bit like the bar, reminiscent of my single days– I was back on the prowl, assessing my potential options, wondering who else might be looking for some company.

It took a lot of nerve to approach someone and try to engage in a meaningful conversation, and I chickened out multiple times. Finally, after a pep talk from my husband, I headed to the playground – pumped- and put on my happiest, perkiest smile. I was going to get a phone number if my life depended upon it!

I noticed a woman playing with similarly aged children, so I sidled on over and introduced myself. She was so nice! We got to talking, had a lot in common, and I started to get excited. My first new friend! I summoned up all my courage, and asked if she wanted to exchange numbers to meet up again sometime soon. That’s when she gave me a big grin and said, “Oh, are you in the Nanny Network too?”

Nooooooooooo.

I had picked up a nanny. I quickly looked around, panicked, to make sure no one thought I was trying to steal someone else’s nanny. This is a huge no-no in the playground world, FYI; you can literally be shunned from an entire community.

I slunk back home feeling silly and even more alone. It had never occurred to me that many of the women playing with these young children were not actually their mothers! Of course it makes sense now, but at the time I felt embarrassed.

Despite this setback, I did not give up. I signed up for an online mommy group, and was so excited for the first event. My husband teased me as I agonized over what to wear, trying to appear comfortable, yet stylish. As I attended several of these groups, I felt like I was dating again, worrying about my make-up, shoes and outfits. At one point I was running late for an event, shoving my daughter into an adorable tutu and leggings, both of us sweating, her screaming and me crying, and I stopped and thought, what am I doing? Why am I forcing my 1-year-old into an outfit she clearly doesn’t want to put on, for people I don’t even know that well? Who was I pretending to be?

But that’s what being friendless did to me- I found myself trying to fit into a mold that I didn’t quite understand. I was so worried about being judged for my chronic lateness, my laid back parenting style, or the highly processed Goldfish and granola bars I brought as snacks for my kids. Maybe if my children looked adorable, no one would notice.

During those first several months, I felt so full of doubt, so uncomfortable in my own skin. I missed my old friends dearly–in their presence, I never felt inadequate or out of place.

For several reasons, I ended up working more, put the kids in a great daycare, and made socializing less of a priority. I convinced myself that having “real” friends wasn’t that important in my 30s- I mean who’s got time for that anyway?! My crazy kids consume most of my time and energy, and the few moments I have left I save for my husband or to squeeze in an occasional workout.

But lately I’ve realized that I do need friends. Like, a lot.

I need women I can relate to, who don’t judge me for giving my kids melatonin when I just can’t handle another two-hour bedtime routine. I need women who understand my need for adult, intellectual conversation, an opportunity for girls’ nights, and who secretly enjoy trashy television as much as I do. I need friends who I can invite over for dinner and won’t feel judged for wearing yoga pants because she shows up in sweats. I have realized that getting older doesn’t make friendship any less important, but things like family and work schedules can make it a lot more complicated.

Luckily, I now have a few good friends in the Bay Area, but it took a long time– a lot longer than I expected. I almost gave up at one point, and thought long and hard about getting a companion dog. The most important lesson I’ve learned in making friends as an adult is to be patient, be myself, and realize that it doesn’t happen overnight. But like all good things, it will be worth the wait!

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Meredith
Meredith is a transplant to the Bay Area and has fallen in love with the weather, gorgeous scenery, and plethora of local wineries. A wife and mother of two, she works part-time as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. She hails from Texas, where she attended the University of Texas and will always bleed orange. She then moved to Washington DC to attend Georgetown's School of Medicine, where she fell in love with her future husband, a fellow student, and has been happily married for almost a decade. She and her husband lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for several years for their medical training and found it the perfect place to start a family. She relocated to the Bay Area a few years ago and has quickly adapted to West Coast living. Meredith enjoys the balance of part-time working and full-time parenting and loves to write about this ongoing struggle. In her persistent drive to find more "me time", she actively pursues her interests in reading, running, soccer, baking, and wine tasting.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Meredith:) Love reading your blogs because I can relate, even though I’m an official Mimi now. I want to give you a hug for using your words to capture and convey poignant realities of mother/parenthood with truth, grace, and humor.

  2. I’m a former Austinite new to the Bay Area too! This first near-friendless year has been rough. Nice to know that I’m not the only one.

    • hang in there Julie! It does get easier. I found it took about a year to start making genuine friends, and most of them were through our daycare. Good luck!

  3. We just moved here a week before Christmas (which made the transition even harder). I feel like wrote this after trying to pickup moms at the playground only to realize that they were nannies as well. This few months have been an eye opener and as Julie said this first near-friendless year has been rough. I keep telling myself it’ll get easier with time and just keep on heading to mommy dates. ?

    Would love to know the name of the only mommy group that holds events!

    • Thanks, Katie, for reading and responding. I find there are a lot of moms in the Bay Area that are lonely; I don’t know if that’s a national trend or just this area but hang in there! I enjoyed joining a few different groups on Meetup.com, but my longer-term friends have come from parents of kids at our daycare and now that my kids are older from sports teams, too. But it did take a lot of effort putting myself out there and going outside my comfort zone. Good luck, and stay strong!

  4. Hi Meredith,

    I love your blog. When reviewing folks in the Bay Area who have a handle on parent-child communication, I was very much drawn to your message and reflections for parents. I would love to connect with you and discuss the opportunity to engage a small parent community in Palo Alto on the subject. Please reach out by email.

    Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Daniel

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