My pregnant belly was the ultimate conversation starter. Chatting with other parents became as easy as devouring that whole pie I'd eaten earlier, and as a new mum looking to start or find her own "support village," this was useful. I figured my pregnancy would allow me to score some great parent besties, and I was more than ready for some new friends. With my belly showing me the way, I started up tiny conversations with parents and parents-to-be, particularly mums-to-be.
While I had some lovely chats in the frozen food section of the grocery store or the baby section at Target, none of our interactions developed into second dates. These women were all wonderfully ready to talk about their immediate experiences with pregnancy or kids, but no one was ready for a deeper commitment. With each conversation, I felt more and more like everyone was already a card-carrying member of a club I couldn't get into, despite having the very obvious requirement.
With motherhood as an instant common ground and me on my way to becoming a mum, I'd been certain that new friends would suddenly appear from behind changing tables or magically drop out of the sky.
I continued trying to assemble my tribe, but kept striking out. I was given many helpful tips about what life would be like with a newborn — sleep when the baby sleeps; ask for help; enjoy every minute. But then that helpful mama would disappear into her minivan with her kids or her baby bump. The mum I met in line at Whole Foods couldn't have been more clear when she told me that having my own "support village" was a must. I trusted her wisdom since she was wrangling four kids and the only mothering I'd done thus far was babying my husband when he was sick. I was lonely and needed more mama friends, but I just wasn't making any.
With motherhood as an instant common ground and me on my way to becoming a mum, I'd been certain that new friends would suddenly appear from behind changing tables or magically drop out of the sky. Why hadn't anyone warned me that making friends while pregnant would be so hard? Sure, I had friends in my inner circle that already had kids, but I figured the larger my tribe, the more support we'd all give to one another. But no matter how hard I tried, I was tribe-less.
As it turned out, my village was never assembled while I was pregnant. As my belly grew, my need for close family and friends grew with it. And even though the dream of having a large "support village" stayed with me, I stopped my search for newer friends. It was hard to feel rejected all the time.
Now that I'm on the other side of this whole pregnant thing, I understand more that close mum friendships develop over time, not while quickly shopping for frozen pancakes at Whole Foods. Now when I chat with other parent strangers at Target, I try to take an extra minute to not only talk to them, but to really see them, too. Usually these conversations last just a minute or two before I continue looking for that pie I desperately wanted a slice (or three) of, but it's still something.
Once my child was old enough to start school, my village began to include new and deeper friendships because we all had the time we needed to get to know one another. I'm happy that today my village is still forming — I just wish it had started to grow when my belly did.