Our 4th wedding anniversary is coming up soon, and, with it, my 4th anniversary of living in this town. Maybe some would still consider us "newbies" - it's been my experience that smaller towns have a longer break-in period. The town my parents moved to many years ago still considered people outsiders after 20 years of residency. I know I'm not in the most ideal position to be making new friends, what with the time-consuming nature of raising two small children, but I'd like to think I should have a (local) friend or two that I could call up just for a quick chat on the phone, or coffee every so often, or the occasional "girls-night-out". I love my husband and this is not a slam against him - I'm lonely for female companionship. I need a friend. But just how pathetic does that sentence sound?
This last academic year was my second as a member of MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and I thought for sure this group would be my ticket to real connection with other moms of young children. Women that would really get it - who would know how isolating it can be in a new area, staying home with your kids. The whole premise of the organization (which is international) can be summed up in this quote from their website: "MOPS is about meeting the needs of every mom of a child from conception through kindergarten with local groups of moms just like you." (Emphasis theirs.) It's about support, community, connection. So why is it I've left many a meeting feeling more isolated than ever? It seemed like so many of the other members had pre-existing circles of support - didn't need anyone new, didn't feel the need to develop relationships outside of the meeting times. I remember one event in the fall that was scheduled for a Saturday - a trip to a corn-maze, including the whole family. I thought it would be a great opportunity to see people, have shared experiences, develop outside relationships. I thought so to the point that I was more than willing to get up earlier than is desirable on a Saturday morning to drive the hour and a half out into the country to be there. We took a wrong turn or two, and I panicked that we'd be late, that we'd somehow miss out on the fun. We finally arrived. And then we waited. And waited. No one else came! Not even the people who thought the event was a good-enough idea to schedule and announce at the meeting! And no one seemed to think it was that big a deal when I asked about it at the next meeting.
This post is on the whinier side, I know. But I'm so tired of making the extra effort (inviting couples from church over for dinner, hosting holiday parties, joining organizations, attending events, starting up a blog) just to feel lonely and isolated as a woman, and I'm sad that over an hour of driving is necessary to be with any of the few women who can even begin to fulfill that need. Should my mother (currently just a phone call or 5-hour drive away) ever pass away, I'm frightened at the prospect of just how empty of deep female connection my life would be. I tend to be sort of introverted and making efforts such as these takes a lot out of me, emotionally. I presume it will be worth it in the end, but I worry that all that effort will go to waste with nothing real to show for it.
Since initially hitting the Publish button on this post, I did come across this blogger's book review and commentary. It's both comforting and discouraging to hear that so many women in my position have the exact same issue. And I also found her statistics interesting:
"Friendship is an interesting thing in itself, isn’t it? According to psychologists there are four major types of friendships:
Acquaintances, who you’d chat with or meet up with casually and who give you a sense of belonging to a large group,
Casual friends, who you would grab lunch with or who are friends in a specific sense, like someone you work out with or who you can talk to about parenting but not necessarily about everything,
Close friends, who you trust and could say anything to, and who you could pick up where you left off with quickly,
Lifers, who are deep friends like family.