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We’ve lived in Chattanooga for over five years now, and it’s just in the last year or so that I seem to have found my people.
For what seems like years, I would send out group messages to other stay-at-home moms I knew, mostly from church, about going to the zoo or the mall playplace or lunch. And every time, it was a no.
It broke me a little bit.
I knew it wasn’t really me as much as Chattanooga. Most everyone I know here grew up in Chattanooga. They have friends, family, and set schedules. Add on kids in school and other responsibilities, and I get it, I really do.
It’s just that not having any good friends got old.
I joined groups that scheduled playdates to fill time and just get out of the house. Once I had David and we moved on campus at the school, that seemed to fall to the wayside. The year Libbie and David were both in a Mother’s Day Out two days a week and I was pregnant with Joshua, I secluded myself pretty well. I determined friendships weren’t going to happen with people at church. In my sickness and tiredness and overwhelmed-ness at being pregnant unexpectedly when I had a 3- and 1-year-old, I gave up a little.
I worked. I tried to keep my head above water. And that was about it.
And then, the result of many prayers from myself and my mentor, I made a true friend. Someone who needed me as much as I needed her. We had much in common, and enough not to keep it all interesting. I was probably a little too devoted to our friendship, too needy, because when she went back to work this past year, I felt lost again.
After a few months of moping, though, I knew I had to keep sending messages. Mr. V and I started teaching our age group in Sunday School, and suddenly I felt not only connected with but responsible to a group of people our age. And this time, when I asked for get-togethers, there were yeses.
It still feels uncomfortable every time I send a text, asking someone to get together (especially because I tend to be a last-minute kind of girl). It’s that question of rejection. Obviously I take everything too personally. I’m an HSP to the core.
But I won’t stop sending texts and Facebook messages and making phone calls and needing women friendships a little too much. Because we need people to be vulnerable with, to show the soft side of motherhood and womanhood, the side that no one sees on Facebook or Instagram. Women who see my reaction when David blatantly ignores everything I say, or Libbie gives me THAT LOOK of rebellion. Because so often I isolate and think it’s only my kids or only me. But it’s not.
God sets the lonely in families. And even though I have an absolutely wonderful family and in-laws, those long days of being at home with little ones can still feel painfully lonely. These past few months, He’s given me a sort of family among the young-ish moms in our church, the women who desperately need to know we’re all doing the best we can and it’s OK.
I am so grateful.
A few weeks ago, I sent another one of those texts. I was driving around and needed some coffee, so I texted Tiffany, asking her if she wanted to meet within the hour at a local coffee shop. I just had Joshua, and she had no kids. I expected a no, because it was so soon and she’s usually working. But she said yes. (She’s my favorite.)
We got there and ordered, and then I realized I didn’t have my wallet. I was mortified as I asked Tiffany if she could pay for my coffee and food. If she hadn’t been there, I would have been beyond embarrassed, having to walk out with a child wailing about a muffin. But she made me feel normal, paid for it, and we had a great visit.
And that’s why I won’t stop putting myself out there for friendship.