A couple of years ago, my oldest daughter came home from school and asked me why she wasn’t in the talent show with her friends. Her entire little social group had gotten together, rehearsed, and performed a song together—everyone but her. “Why didn’t I get to do that with them?” she asked me.
I didn’t have a good answer. I had an answer, but not exactly one I wanted to tell my daughter: “Sweetie, it’s because your mommy isn’t friends with those other mommies.”
The parents had arranged it. They planned the whole thing and coordinated rehearsal times. But because they didn’t know me, my daughter didn’t get to be a part of it. And while I wasn’t pining to be in their group, it stung that it resulted in my daughter being left out.
As an introvert, I’ve had a really difficult time making friends with other moms at my kids’ school. I tend to focus on a few deep relationships rather than many shallow ones. The truth is, I already have some very good friends—and feel guilty I’m not pouring enough of myself into those relationships. It’s the classic motivation problem for introverts. I don’t need more friends. I just need to go deeper with the ones I have.
To make matters worse, I’m bad at small talk. Getting to know people is awkward and painful for me, so during the school year, I got into the habit of dropping off and picking up my kids in the pick-up loop. Other moms would park and chat outside. Me? I never left the car.
The talent-show scenario above, however, made it clear to me that I needed to make an effort to meet a few other parents—if not for me, then for the sake of my kids. Mom friendships are how playdates happen. They impact my kids’ social interactions, and I need them too. Without other mom friends at the school, there is no one for me to call if I’m in a bind and need help at pick-up or need to confirm the details of a field trip.
So, over the past year, I decided to be intentional about building friendships. I invited a couple of moms to participate in a book club I’m part of. I very deliberately got in touch with a few other moms just to swap cell numbers (texting is so much easier for me). I helped my kids meet some new families and make new playmates.
This year, on the first day of school, I hosted a brunch for other moms after they dropped off their kids at school. I served mimosas. At school gatherings, I always feel like the odd person out—everyone else seems comfortable but me—but hosting a party on my terms at my house made me feel better connected. And a couple of other moms expressed to me how much they appreciated the gathering because they also found it hard to make friends. They felt just as disconnected as I did.
All of that is to say: I’m a work in progress, but I’m trying. I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone because what’s comfortable for me isn’t always what’s best for my kids. I’m putting myself out there.
Last year, when it was time for the talent show, I got in touch with all the other moms and asked them if their daughters were going to perform again. I flat-out popped the question, “Hey, can my daughter be a part of it?”
“Of course,” they said. The girls performed Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA.” My daughter had a blast. It became one of the highlights of her year, and all I had to do was talk to another mom.
I can do that.