Lately I’ve been feeling like a kid again.. not in the “candy store” kind of way, but rather the awkward tween phase. Turns out, relocating and having to make new friends in your 30s is super fucking weird.
Truth is, I’ve tried to write this article a few times and with each passing week, my theme and stance has shifted. I went from not knowing where to begin and having no friends, to finding comfort in a group of girls who have shown me unconditional kindness, love and support. I feel extremely lucky this time around, since (as some of you may already know) mama drama is everywhere.
When I first had Levi, I fell into a group of really nice girls with kids similar in age. As time went on, they seemed to grow closer and started to exclude me from certain gatherings. To this day, I don’t know if I did something to upset them or if it was simply that I lived in the next town over. In the moment, I was heartbroken… truly gut-wrenched, not knowing that although this feeling would quickly pass, it would also stay with me.
Fortunately, Levi started “mommy and me” at his future preschool soon after, and I found some of my now best friends (the kind that last a lifetime) and moved on. I had all but forgotten about my experience when we decided to move to Los Angeles (and the relocation happened so quickly that it would make anyone’s head spin). Naturally, these feelings were once again conjured up and I knew that this time, it would not only be me having to make new friends (with baby girl in tow) but Levi as well. I guess that although I thought I had buried my feelings regarding my first attempt to make mom friends, it had affected me- perhaps shifted me- in a permanent way. Moreover, I was terrified thinking that Levi might feel as alone as I once had. He had been with the same group of kids forever and we were ripping him away from everything he knew and loved.
Realistically, my husband Rich and I knew that it was for the best. We would be closer to his work and he would see our kids more, but it still ate away at me. I knew I had to be strong and show Levi that making new friends was a great blessing instead of something to be feared. I promised myself right then and there that I would always do my best to model for Levi and demonstrate just how important it is to reach out and be kind to everyone you meet. And that purposely excluding people would never be tolerated under my roof. This is not to say that he can’t choose his own friends or have best friends, but I’ll be damned if he ever tries to push a kid out of a group or ignore another student for no good reason. It’s not an easy lesson to learn and I find myself having to step out of my comfort zone daily to reach out and say hi on days I can barely get dressed. But he has his entire life to learn his ABCs and 123s… right now I care to teach him kindness and compassion because I believe there are certain things that can’t be drilled into their brains later in life. And a simple greeting is something that we can hold each other accountable for.
We toured a few preschools and ultimately decided on one that felt the warmest… like home. I won’t say there weren’t a few tears for a few weeks but the teachers, parents and students were all so inviting and really reached out to Levi and me. Luckily, a few of the moms in Levi’s classroom also had babies around Everly’s age and welcomed me into their weekly baby and music classes. They were wonderful and it now feels silly to share that I almost hesitated in forming these bonds, fearing that they may not like me or that, even worse, they would send me on my way as quickly as they had invited me in. I was able to push through my ridiculousness and now call some of the most amazing women and moms I know my new friends. Without them, I would probably be shaking in a corner somewhere, trying to remember which day is soccer and which day the school brings in pizza.
But the lesson of my past was not lost on me. Being a mom is hard enough… doing it alone is torture. Even the simplest of concerns have the power to shape a child’s life. Should I let my exhausted 3-year-old (who usually fights naps) stay asleep in the car or wake him so that he stays on schedule? Is it ok to not throw a birthday party for my one year old baby girl even though her older brother had one? And I’ve found that better than grandparents or doctors or even husbands for that matter, are your mom friends. They’re there to have an at-length discussion over why it’s OK that your kid said “holy shit” if it was used in the correct context and in the privacy of your own home.
Even though we are still settling in, my family is happy and that is all I could ever ask for. I feel stronger, seeing all that I was capable of in a few short months and knowing that we must be doing something right if our kids were also able to acclimate. I’ll be forever grateful to the women who took me in, picked me up and showed me how to be a great friend and an even better mom. From the bottom of my heart… thank you. You know who you are!