Finding new friends in a new town. This ain’t as easy as it used to be.
A few weeks ago I wrote on my personal blog about the difficult time I was having finding friends locally. My husband, I, and three dogs moved to Portsmouth from Boston almost four years ago. I hadn’t wanted to leave the city, I missed the different ethnic restaurants we used to frequent, was disappointed that we hadn’t made much on the modest condo we’d put so much work and love into, and most of all, I really missed my friends.
In Boston, once we adopted our first dog we made instant acquaintances with several neighbors. We were in Portsmouth for just over a year when I found out I was pregnant, and while having suburban dogs who exist mostly on the couch or in their private backyard oasis hadn’t had the same affect as it had in the city, I thought for sure our undoubtedly adorable offspring would earn me some instant mom friends.
By the time Anna turned two I’d made only one real friend who conveniently lives a few doors down, but beyond that the person I spoke with most was probably the guy at the Market Basket deli counter (and I think he just wanted me to buy more cheese). I joined moms’ groups, but found it difficult to build relationships while working full-time. I whined to friends back in Boston, to my husband, and to my sister who lives about 45 minutes away. I whined some more on my blog and got loads of great advice from other moms. It seems the situation is kind of universal, and here I thought I was the mom equivalent of gym class last-picked.
Turns out finding friends is a lot like dating. You can’t force it. Can’t sign onto a website and be perfectly matched to your BFF in a click. We moms are busy – work at home, stay at home, office moms, all of us – one kid, six kids, we value our weekends, our families and routines, and it’s hard to carve time for the care and feeding of a brand new relationship. I came to this realization and suddenly an amazing thing happened. Just like dating. When I stopped trying, friends found me.
In the course of a weekend I made two friends at the playground and one at a neighborhood event. I wouldn’t call us instant besties, but we exchange email, make and cancel plans – just like real friends! Our kids are about the same ages, and easy peasy mac-and-cheesy, we already have similar routines – we keep running into each other at the same places.
So be on the lookout, parents. That little blond girl you keep seeing at the park, the dark-haired boy at the farmers’ market? That kid’s parents might be your next best friend.
About the author: Brenna Jennings is an experienced photographer living in Portsmouth with her husband, three spoiled dogs and almost-two-year-old daughter. Visit her blog at www.suburbansnapshots.com for advice and musings on parenting by surprise.