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Mamas: Finding your BFF

Moving to Portland was scary and exciting all at the same time.  We heard rave reviews of the city, we were thrilled at the opportunity to try it out for a spin.  We arrived, 7 months pregnant with 3-year old in tow, and we knew just one or two other people, my partners' colleagues.

The rest is almost history.  That was over ten years ago, and I met my mama BFF within months of moving to Portland.  When we first moved, I was eager to hit the mama-dating circuit, to meet other like-minded families, to share fun & adventures with new-found friends.  We gave birth to urbanMamas.com where countless other mamas & papas have made connections - found life-long friends, care providers, jobs, support through transitions like moves or divorce - all through the urbanMamas community.  Needless to say, I found my mama BFF plus so many other dear, close friends.  

And, then: we moved.  

Two years after the move, I have to say: I am still seeking a new partner-in-crime, a new best mama pal.  I am still seeking that special someone(s) who will make me laugh so hard I pee, who will talk to me about peeing when I run and how to deal with it, who will talk through career issues like working part-time or trailblazing mamahood in the workplace.

Maybe when you find your mama BFF, it's one and only.  Maybe it just takes a bit more time.  Maybe it requires being even more outgoing than ever.

When you move to a new place or start at a new school and start afresh: how do you make friends?  What are you looking for?  Candlelit dinners & walks on the beach?  Similar-aged kids, similar lifestyles, similar family structures or values?  What have you found was the absolute thing that draws you to another mama?



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Ultimately, my ability to have mama-friends has always been dependent on my child. When he was a baby, he was never on the same schedule as anyone else... all the playdates would be offered at naptime, which we could not skip (or enjoy a playtime during). If I suggested a time that I thought would work for all, it wouldn't be accepted- as there was always someone else who could/would do the other time. Then as my child got older, he was more active than many, meaning we couldn't do toddler-age playdates that involved sitting or playing with toys on a mat- and no one wanted to do the 'running after kids' playdate :) Actually, I did one once, but it's not like I could talk to the mama as we passed each other running after our own. I learned to comiserate with other mamas of similar kids online, but in-person meetups were hard because of how our kids were. By preschool age, my son started to have strong opinions on who he wanted to associate with, meaning the days of a couple of us parents who get along with each other 'getting our kids together' were over. I've tried somewhat to connect with the parents of his schoolmates, but since the relationships among the kids can change, there's always a wariness in pushing for a connection in that situation. I honestly believe the making of mama-friends depends on a magical mix... your kids have to have the same rhythm to their days, similar interests, a willingness to play together... and you have to be that outgoing person who has that sense for what other people will like in you to be their friend- and be in the right place, right time, right kid, and right connection adult-to-adult... in other words... you can try, do your best, be glad if it works- and be OK if it sometimes it doesn't.

My best mama friend is someone who I'd be friends with if we weren't mamas. I need to have friends who I can talk to about Mom stuff, sure, and who understand all I experience as a parent. But I also need those same people to be dynamic women outside of motherhood. I want to surround myself with women for whom motherhood is one of many things they do and are. So what draws me to another mother is what would draw me to another woman - that basis and foundation, even without kids in the picture.

Just like for dating or any new relationship, I Think the key is showing up to a lot of stuff. Cast a wide net! Go to anything and everything that interests you and your child - whatever your time and money can afford. Chatting someone up for a few minutes, you can usually tell if you're compatible. But it's like taking 1000 pictures and getting one good one - you have to stay out there all the time!

Feel free to email anytime marissanbrandon@live.com
we were both single parents before we got together. I am 24 years old and I just moved to gresham/portland from Washington. We love to do outdoor activities. I am a stay at home mom. I have a 2year old daughter and he has a 3year old boy who swears up and down he is 5. And an 8 year old boy who goes to school full time. We love getting out of the house and going on walks or jogs, feeding the ducks, going to parks, chuck e cheese, pretty much anything to get us active we are up for it. We have a four wheeler and a mini bike that we like taking out. I'm up for meeting a mama with a down to earth personality and has children around the same age. Im open for meeting someone a little older seeing as how I have always been a little more mature for my age. Email me if you wanna chat or you have any questions?

Funny... this topic came up recently with DH and I. We've recently (last 18 months) made great friends since moving to a new neighborhood. I mean, these are the text to tell secrets while in the same room, call when you need help in a pinch, laugh until your tummy hurts, bare all through good and bad kind of friends. Neither of us have had friends like this since college, and to be honest, we kind of thought those types of friendships were over. But they aren't, and we found them where we honestly didn't expect to.

What helped - being comfortable with ourselves, and open to talking to anyone. My husband laughs at how outgoing I have become since moving, but I guess I figure - why not? I volunteer as much as I can, and meet people through that. I have met lots of friends through my kids' school. It started as friendships through kids, but over time as evolved to become friendships I really value and cherish. I also stepped out of my comfort zone a bit and joined a book group. I don't read much, but a group of ladies I otherwise enjoyed were starting one, so I said why not, and it has been a really fun outlet, because book group is really code for moms night out.

I would just say talk to anyone and everyone, and be yourself. You'll find friends eventually!

I almost wanted to cry when I read this post. I moved here with my now husband almost 8 years ago, and I still don't have close friends, not for lack of trying! My best girlfriends still live on either coast, but feel somehow broken that I still don't have any here. I feel like I'm the one who is always making the effort, and I'm tired of it. I finally met someone I could literally tell anything to, and I was relieved to have found someone--until she moved far, far away after 2 years or so. I cannot belive how hard and lonely this has been for me. I'm a very social person, so it makes it even more difficult. My husband feels the same but says, "I'd rather not think about it, because then I'll just get really depressed." Sorry for the pity party, I just had to vent I guess :(

D., I understand your pain. I started out mothering without a group of female friends close to my age (not friendless, but lots of older friends). I am mostly in that same boat today, and not for lack of trying, as you said. It has done a number on my self-esteem feeling like no one wants to spend time with me and simply wishing to be invited somewhere. I am also so tired of trying to establish friendships. All I can say is this isn't what I signed up for, and it is probably the hardest part of parenting for me!

A challenge for me has been being the parent of a child with a disability. My child does not make friends easily, through a combination of his own lack of age-typical social skills and people's general fear of difference. In my past kid-free life, I made friends slowly but without stress. However, now I have to deal with the fear of being rejected because my child is different. Most people are not openly rude; they just don't know what to say to the mom of the kid who is kind of an odd duck ("Is she just a bad parent?" "What is wrong with that kid?" Will it rub off on my kid if we hang out?"), so they don't say anything to me.

I cherish the people who have embraced my different family and reached out to me, both at my child's school and in public environments like the park.

I encourage UM readers to reach out to mamas and papas with kids who are different. It can be in incredibly isolating experience, and the gift of a few words of fellow-parent support can make a huge difference!

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