I have been nice. I have been patient. And I'm done.
My husband and I moved to Lancaster, PA almost four years ago. Since then I have spent much of my time pursuing people. I have started small talk, extended coffee invitations, extended dinner invitations, offered help on numerous projects, tried to plan shopping trips, attended a few small groups; you name it, and I have probably tried it in the effort to make friends up here. And after almost four years of people telling me to be patient or to try this-or-that, I am just tired and fed up.
I have put myself out there so many times I have lost count. The number of times I have been rejected or brushed aside since we have been up here would be hard to count, as well. Most of the time people just make excuse after excuse about why they can't come over for dinner, or can't meet me at Starbucks, but some have just completely ignored my invitations. There have been a couple of people who would, to our surprise, accept our invitations! We would get so excited. And without fail, those people would cancel on us at the last minute. Every. Single. Time.
A couple of years ago we even started a movie group as a way to get to know some couples that we had met here or there. We had said movie group maybe 7 times and we ended up canceling 5 or 6 of those because no one showed up. We are involved in a church, we have been involved in several different organizations, we have volunteered, we have talked to strangers, we have gone to meet ups. So when I say that we have tried to make friends, you can take it to the bank. Feeling isolated and lonely where we are has nothing to do with us not trying.
This past year I had to get honest with myself. Maybe it's me. Maybe I am just too much for people, or I drive them away. Whatever it is, at some point you have to stop and ask yourself, "Can it really be everyone else? I'm the common denominator here." I also couldn't help thinking that maybe it is the difference between Northern and Southern culture (I'm still not convinced that this doesn't have something to do with it). So, imagine my surprise, and relief, when I started having conversations with other moms (mostly Southern ones) who have been having the same experience!
I just got off the phone with a stay-at-home-mom friend who lives a couple hundred miles away. We were talking about something that I have talked to so many stay-at-home-moms about; WE ARE SO DAMN LONELY! (This is definitely not a problem that SAHMs alone deal with; I know many moms who work outside of the home and they are lonely, too. In fact, my best friend is one of these, and we often talk about how lonely we are) I cannot say that I am speaking for EVERY SAHM, but I think I can safely say that I am speaking for a large number of them when I say this: We love being able to stay home with our kiddos and serve our family, but goodness gracious! We never knew how lonely it would be.
In this conversation and many others, my friend echoed everything I shared. Since becoming moms our personal lives and identities have changed, of course, but so have our social lives. It is definitely not as easy to hang out with us anymore. We have constant little companions attached to our boobs or hips, and it is not easy or cheap to get a babysitter. We have earlier bedtimes because our little ones are ready to play at 5:30 in the morning. And we talk about our babies.. a lot. They are our life. We spend every waking moment with them, or cleaning up after them, or preparing for them when they wake up. There isn't much else to talk about. Of course, we wouldn't have it any other way, but our single friends, or our friends who haven't had kids yet, don't quite get this: Let me get this straight, not only are you going to bring your kid with you when we go shopping, but you want to talk about her, too!?!
I will admit, maybe we SAHMs need to learn to talk about something else. We promise to work on that, and we really do want to know what is going on with you! But maybe you could do us a favor, too. Maybe you could make an effort to come see us, even if we have our kids with us. And when you do, don't do it because you feel bad for us. Do it because you love us and you want to see us and know what is going on in our lives. We don't want to be your ministry; We want to be your friend.
Today, my friend said, "Don't get me wrong, I know that they have lives, but it would be so great if they made time for me now and then." But, we don't want you to just make time for us somewhere in your busy life; we want to be PART OF YOUR LIFE.
And why the heck are you so busy anyways? A professor that I greatly respect once said to me, "You make time for what is important to you." I whole-heartedly agree. If we are important to you, make time for us. It doesn't feel good when your friend tries to squeeze you into their busy schedule. It feels like we are a burden.
One more thing to think about: We know that you meeting up with us was just a little part of your day, and you probably weren't that excited about it, but for us it was probably the biggest part of our day. And we have been looking forward to it. ALL DAY LONG.
So, when you don't have time for us, or when you call to cancel, we may try to be gracious about it, but don't expect us to be ok with it or think that it is no big deal. It is a very big deal to us, even if you think it is silly. We forgive you, but it's not ok.