Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Silver and Gold

Any former Girl Scout readers out there? You must remember the song "Silver and Gold". I was thinking about that song as I've struggled to both maintain friendships I had in Massachusetts and create new ones in Texas. Four months in and I've yet to reach the level of "hug" friend - probably just at "decent acquaintance". I thought I'd get into some techniques I've been using and challenges I have to overcome. I welcome others thoughts - it is so.much.harder to make friends as an adult.
  • New England mannerisms. I consider myself a very open person. I talk to people on elevators for goodness sake. And make eye contact! But am I "Texas" open? Its a fine balance between not saying too much too soon and being friendly. I struggle with this (especially if I've had a few glasses of wine). And they all ask me how I'm adjusting but don't want to hear anything negative about the town we live in (no matter how good the schools are Texas is 43rd in the nation for education, people).
  • All about the kids. Everyone here brings their kids to EVERYTHING. No one really has a support network and for some reason don't like to hire babysitters (they use this place Adventure Kids which is drop off but gets pretty expensive once you exceed 2 kids). So if you want to really get to know someone you have to do it over your kids heads (forget about complaining about Ned's kindergarten teacher). Plus I'm dealing with a demanding 3 year old (I should have just written 3 year old since they all are) so I'm having snatches of conversation between demands. And you end up just talking about the kids! I also miss having friends without kids - people you can call when you're home alone with Husband traveling and they want to watch Scandal with you.
  • Church/Activities. Since all the kids here do every activity under the sun (I wish I were joking) the window for making friends is limited. We are pretty lazy on Sundays since we aren't a church family but everyone else is.
  • Work talk. I've been pleasantly surprised how many women I've met work. But no one talks about work. Which I find weird because I've always done work anecdotes. I'm trying to remember how to trot out "getting to know you talk" but again, defaults to kids.
Here is what I've been doing to try to make friends:
  • Say yes to everything. I went to Bunco at my neighborhood - of course, it didn't start until 1.5 hrs after the start time (I was already tired before I went), I wasn't drinking (diet - makes it even harder if you can't eat carbs or drink) and I prefer games of strategy. People were nice though so I'll go back - just not arrive until 8 pm (don't these people also have to get up at 5:30 am?). I went to a PTO meeting but it was in the middle of the day and I.just.can't be a part of something that so blatantly discriminates against working parents - they do awesome work though. I went to a "Newcomers Club" meeting with Aaron until I realized it was for women only. I stayed a while and realized that every member is an empty nester who moved to town and had no other way to make friends. Our neighbors have invited us to parties and we say yes to every one. I'm sort of afraid to reciprocate because they are good parties (different post on that!). We go to every neighborhood event, school event, etc. Yes, sometimes I am BORED out of my skull but maybe I'll make that connection.
  • Invite.Invite.Invite. I met a mom at daycare drop off this summer - bam, we had a family BBQ playdate a few weeknds later. I met a guy through a job application and bam, we had a family playdate and they just had us all over for dinner (they seem keepers). I'm constantly asking moms to have coffee or playdates with our kids. It's nice that I'm working parttime so I have time for this. I've invited a mom to go for a walk.
  • Example for the kids. I tell my kids all the time when I'm going out or not attending to them because I am talking to a parent that "Mom has to make friends too." I am showing by example. Some moms might worry about not making their kids a priority but if you read this blog you know I think it's important to have a job and friends that don't involve my kids - just like they have lives (school, activities) that are their own.
  • Network Mom. Find out who the best networked mom is and ride her coattails. I've been doing that with a mom from two doors down. She knows EVERYONE.
It was easier to make friends in college because you had so much free time to be together. And at work (especially Big Law) because you are forced to spend so much time together. It's hard to make a deep and lasting relationship with once a month groups or the occasional family playdate. I feel like I've been working on making friends like it is my JOB for four months and I've made so little progress. Sigh.


Amanda said...

I don't know if this will depress you, but it took us 3 years to make good solid real friends when we moved to Charlotte. Good luck, and you are doing much more work up front than we ever did.

Sadia said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean. Our El Paso move was an abject failure. I suppose I hadn't realized that outside Texas one could have non-mommy friends after giving birth. The only ones I have are from work and the few who didn't drop us after we had the kids. Oh, never mind. The friends who didn't drop us were friends from work.

LauraC said...

It took us a long time to make friends when we moved to Raleigh. I felt like I was perpetually dating, and still continue to do it. It will happen, but it takes a LOT of work. A lot a lot of work.

Susan said...

I have to agree with above, more time, and unfortunately, more work. Sounds like you are taking advantage of any area you can. The kids are key...allowing to meet other couples w/kids the same age or close. I would have suggested church but that doesn't work for you....keep at it, it will happen...