How to Make Friends

The  close friends I have now, for the most part, are friends I made when my children were very young. The pre-school rule that mandated all students in the class be invited to every birthday party may not have been as important for the kids as it was for the parents, who all stood around chatting and getting to know each other as their little ones tumbled or sang or painted or baked cupcakes, depending on the theme of the party. Picking up our children from school was as important for our socialization as it was for our kids sense of security when they walked out and saw us there, juice box and cookies in hand. Eventually us moms (and dads) all began to get to know each other and form friendships, and after a few tentative “let’s have dinners,” bonds were formed.

good friends, finding friends, making friends, close friends, pre-school moms, pick-up from school, midlife, empty nest, baby boomers

Friends for 20 years.

 

Some friendships faded away, but the good ones, the ones that really mattered, have endured. Not that there haven’t been ups and downs – lives take twists and turns that can interfere with the continuum of relationships. But going through all of the milestones together – from kindergarten to middle school, high school proms to college graduations, PMS to menopause, B’nai Mitzvahs to, more recently weddings and grandchildren - it’s all become a collective set of memories and moments that we share and reach back to over and over to remind ourselves that we are all in this together, that we’ve made it this far and will make it farther still.

My experience was vastly different from the one written about on a post on BlogHer recently in which the author talked about her feeling that she didn’t belong among the moms at pick-up each afternoon at her children’s school. Most of the comments were in agreement with her, ranging from feeling too “granola” for the other moms to feeling like the pick-up was a latter-day high school cafeteria. My heart broke for these moms who felt so isolated, but I was also a little irritated, too – for goodness sake, we’re all adults now. If someone isn’t nice to you, look around and find someone else. If someone isn’t as “granola” as you, march yourself down to the local food co-op and find some moms just as crunchy as you are. Join a club, volunteer, go to the park and chat up the other moms pushing their kids on the swings. No one will make friends by waiting for someone else to speak first, and if you’re rejected, then so be it. I went through dozens of women and more than a few hurt feelings before finding the ones who were a love-match for me. It’s not easy.

The time we have with our children when they’re small is brief, and among the gifts those years bring is the opportunity to meet other women who are going through the same experiences. Being a parent takes courage, emotional fortitude, and a little bit of good luck. Finding friends who matter takes much of the same.

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29 Responses to How to Make Friends
  1. Janie Emaus
    January 28, 2013 | 7:38 am

    As a working mom, I didn’t make too friends at the school gate, but I do have my friends from high school and we’ve gone through so much together. I couldn’t imagine life without them.

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 28, 2013 | 7:57 am

      I wish I still had friends from high school – they’ve all drifted away. You’re lucky to have that shared history!

  2. Cathy
    January 28, 2013 | 8:36 am

    This really resonated with me, because this idea of making friends while your children are young was the genesis of something I recently wrote about. My best friends are from my childhood, not from the ones I worked and played with during my son’s school days. I find, for the most part, that I’d have been better off in a city where my neighborhood would not have been as homogenized as it is. Don’t get me wrong; my son’s childhood was Utopian and I loved a big group of moms from it. But they’ve fallen out of touch for one reason or another (and I’ve tried to keep in touch) but now I simply give up. Now I make friends through my work, my passions and my hobbies. Like-minded women who, like me, can work and play on a mature level that is both fun and gratifying. I love my besties from grade school; they are the ones I turn to for they joys and sorrows we experience, as they turn to me. Good girlfriends are the best!
    Cathy recently posted..From Dick Van Dyke to Downton Abbey – A Few Highlights (and Video) From The SAG AwardsMy Profile

  3. Jennifer
    January 28, 2013 | 8:59 am

    I hear ya. There are always some moms at middle school pick up (where my kids are, currently) that I’ll never be buddies with, but so what? There’s a wide selection of personality types everywhere. But, my closest friends are indeed my oldest — from high school on the east coast. My oldest friend I’ve been close with since 2nd Grade! Those old friendships develop over the years into something that feels as close as family. :)
    Jennifer recently posted..MiniTime Trip Planning Website for Family Travel Ideas, Hotels, and ReviewsMy Profile

  4. Megan
    January 28, 2013 | 12:15 pm

    I don’t have a chance to make frinds with the other moms- people trickle in and out at preschool pickup. I worked hard for the couple friends I made, and Know that I will have to continue to do so.
    Megan recently posted..Vicious cycle of baby preparednessMy Profile

  5. Haralee
    January 28, 2013 | 12:15 pm

    Long term friends are wonderful. They are the ones who know you and who act for your best interest. Of course the kids were the common ground in the beginning but as years go on there is so much more! You are lucky Sharon!
    Haralee recently posted..A Tribute to A Dying Mom and a Living DaughterMy Profile

  6. pattie cordova
    January 28, 2013 | 2:55 pm

    YES!!! I don’t always feel like I fit in – and that’s okay! I pick myself up, find other people and I make new friends. What a great kick in the pants! ;)
    pattie cordova recently posted..Monster Jam at Anaheim Stadium – Make it a family night! | @MonsterJamMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 28, 2013 | 4:22 pm

      You’re a girl after my own heart. Just keep trying, that was my motto.

      • Mary Gregory
        February 25, 2013 | 9:12 am

        It’s like a dinner buffet. Shop around until you find something you like, then sit down and enjoy the conversation!

  7. Yolanda
    January 28, 2013 | 3:13 pm

    I don’t even pick her up, my husband does! However, I do make friends with moms just by chatting up strangers. Especially when I see they have little ones. Moms need each other :)
    Yolanda recently posted..This Is My Love Story…Not Your Average Fairy TaleMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 28, 2013 | 4:21 pm

      We do need each other, that’s so true! I don’t think I would have survived raising my kids without my friends.

  8. Carpool Goddess
    January 28, 2013 | 3:34 pm

    Most of my closest friends are from my kids preschool and elementary school. These friendships were made standing outside the classroom or on the playground, while waiting for our kids. I remember looking forward to drop-off and pick-up so I could socialize!
    Carpool Goddess recently posted..The Decade Of Dressing Badly: Fashion Mistakes Of My YouthMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 28, 2013 | 4:21 pm

      I too looked forward to those pick-up times! I made my best friends that way.

  9. Yvonne Condes
    January 28, 2013 | 3:59 pm

    When I first moved to Los Angeles I joined a momsclub. It was a really interesting group of women, some whom I bonded with and others I did not. A few of us formed a playgroup for our babies and we’ve been meeting every week for 7 years (I can’t believe it’s been that long!). I’m so happy to have these people in my life, but I never would have met them if I had waited for someone to come up to me. One friend and I joke about how I picked her up a the mall. I only knew one other person in LA at that point and (this is totally out of character for me) I asked her if she wanted to hang out.
    Yvonne Condes recently posted..Gun Safety Now; #LouderThanGunsMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 28, 2013 | 4:20 pm

      When I first moved to my neighborhood, I took my baby in her stroller and walked to the park, where I screwed up my courage and asked a group of moms if I could join them. They turned out to be a weekly playgroup, and I made lots of friends through that. Unfortunately most of them moved away and I had to start over!

  10. enchantedseashells
    January 28, 2013 | 4:07 pm

    As pretty much the only SAHM, I drove all the kids around and they were at our house a lot, so I didn’t have much opportunity to make adult friends and most of them just spent too much time complaining about their husbands and/or their life in general, too negative for me! Now I’m finding that I have “shopping” friends and that’s about it. I guess I could do with some friends that aren’t internet-based!
    enchantedseashells recently posted..Come Rain or Come ShineMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 28, 2013 | 4:19 pm

      It can be difficult when everyone else is working. I was fortunate to find other SAHMs to be friends with.

  11. tania luviano
    January 28, 2013 | 5:08 pm

    I think for working moms might be a little difficult to make friends at your kids’ school, this is 1st year I have more time to socialize with school moms.
    tania luviano recently posted..How to help children to follow the rulesMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 28, 2013 | 6:08 pm

      Yes, it’s more difficult for working moms, that’s for sure – but there are other working moms in the same boat, so hopefully that helps!

  12. Trina
    January 28, 2013 | 6:01 pm

    I think it’s beautiful that you have forged these friendships. I hope that with my kids I can also meet others and create “in real life” friendships that last. Heck I’m even excited about when I get to take pumpkin to mommy and me classes! haha
    Trina recently posted..Shush we’re hunting mosquitosMy Profile

    • Sharon Greenthal
      January 28, 2013 | 6:07 pm

      I was like that too, Trina – so excited to go and be with adults! Enthusiasm goes a long way to forging relationships.

  13. Morgan (The818)
    January 29, 2013 | 10:31 am

    Great post Sharon. I was so lost in the parenting world until my daughter started preschool. I couldn’t be more grateful for the friends I’ve made in line at preschool pick up — they are my soul sisters.
    Morgan (The818) recently posted..Express YourselfMy Profile

  14. Sue
    January 29, 2013 | 1:25 pm

    I made friends at school and in the neighborhood over the years when my daughter was young, but all of these friends have moved away bit by bit. Two lifelong friends from childhood unexpectedly died recently. I cherish the few friends I have left now more than ever.
    Sue recently posted..HBO TV Series “Enlightened” and The Mid-Century Style TV HouseMy Profile

  15. Susan Bonifant
    January 30, 2013 | 5:05 am

    Wow, so true, true, true. Over two decades, I’ve held on to fewer but truer friends from the early days for the same reason my children have: life challenges show us who the keepers are and who we have to let go of.

  16. Kate
    January 30, 2013 | 7:42 pm

    interesting topic. i’m over 50 w/no friends from grade or high school. i was a bullied child who only had friends who were also in the club of outcasts. after school, we all went our separate ways. just happy to have made it out alive and sane, i guess.
    I married and had 3 sons who were in scouts, sports and all kinds of school activities. We made friends with many of the other parents. But after the kids graduated high school, again we all drifted away. it was a strange feeling. for so long hubby and i were part of a great group of people, we all shared a common bond. but once the kids grew up and headed off to college the bonds broke.
    hubby and i have friends but each one was met in a very interesting way, nothing to do with our kids.
    i sometimes long for the days when the kids were younger and involved in many things. as for school friends, i don’t ever want to go back there. too many unhappy memories. but i must say i am envious of those who had a great childhood and have kept their special childhood friendships.
    but that chapter with my kids and their extracurricular activities is over and we’ve moved on. we’re eagerly looking forward to what life holds for us in the next go-round.
    Kate recently posted..First Lady of Style – Michelle ObamaMy Profile

  17. Donna Balon
    February 6, 2013 | 9:05 am

    Agree with you, friending takes effort. It’s not easy, and it often takes awhile. Nice post.
    Donna Balon recently posted..Can’t Dance, But Can Write!My Profile

  18. [...] True friendships are one of life’s greatest gifts. We must not keep our problems bottled up inside. Where would Mrs. Hughes be without the loyal Mrs. Patmore? [...]

  19. Lucy
    February 10, 2013 | 12:45 pm

    I have a couple of friends from High School and I enjoyed the women as my children grew, I engaged with them and look back on those times as delightful. There are four women that I grew close to during my son’s High School years ( he is now getting ready to graduate from law school) we are still very close friends,we many not talk all the time but we make an effort to grab dinners and go out for drinks every few months. I read that same blog post and thought the same thing,”Look around,make an effort, you might enjoy some people for a short time or low and behold they might be life long friends but you have to make the effort and then go for it.”
    Lucy recently posted..Inspirational Sunday #14My Profile

  20. [...] When things are difficult, it helps to have someone to speak to honestly. True friendships are one of life’s biggest gifts. We contingency not keep a problems bottled adult inside. [...]

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