Back in August, a reader asked me and Ariel how we, and subsequently all of you, found Offbeat Mama friends in our communities. The suggestions in the comments were amazing, and I decided to implement a few into my own life to see what would happen.
I do not have the fortune of living in a thriving metropolitan of any sort, and instead reside in a smallish southern town. The dominant politics here aren’t my cup of tea, and most of the parents I run into at story times and The Little Gym are older than I am — this isn’t a problem per se, but I always secretly feel like I’m not going to be taken seriously as a parent. However, we are always trying to teach Jasper that you can’t tell how someone really is just by looking at them, and I decided that the time had come to bite the bullet and take my own advice.
Initially, I set up an account with Meet Up, but it occurred to me that I could accomplish more or less the same thing by making a group on Facebook, and it would be FREE. I came up with a introductory paragraph and sent invites to all of the parents that I could think of. It started with about 10 members, and as of now, we have 34 members — many of whom are people I didn’t know prior to starting the group.
However, I’m not going to sugar-coat it: doing this kind of shit is hard work. I think the most members we’ve had show up at the same story time (we go to the library and book stores) has been four, not including their kids. We mostly do free things, because not everyone can throw down $20 a week to visit whatever kid’s attraction is around. We actually just had a Halloween party which went really well (attendance was in the double digits!), and I also link to free events that I find going on in the city.
Since my group is new and still trying to survive, I also spent a night poring through every parent group I could find on Meet Up, and then accidentally met four or five members of one group at a story time. They all seemed nice enough, and were a pretty diverse mix of women, so I hesitatingly (because I am so SHY with other parents!) asked if they were all friends or knew each other through some kind of website. They told me all about their group, and Jasper and I went to our first outing with them this past Tuesday.
So, ultimately, suck it up and peruse the groups that are already established in your city. Most likely, it’s going to be a challenge to make friends, and you may have to keep quiet on some of your personal philosophies and practices, at least in the beginning, but I think showing your child(ren) that everyone deserves a shot at friendship is worth it, don’t you?