So much of my life I always felt as though I didn’t quite fit in. In high school I was too obsessed with grades and my faith to fit in with most of the kids my age. Then I got married at the end of my second year in college. Most of my friends were still living the college life and preparing to study abroad during their junior years. When they were planning for internships I was looking for another apartment and a job since new husband had just been laid off. Soon everyone around me began having children and we were married 6 years before our daughter was born. Finally I thought I had found the “club” I fit into, motherhood.

But even within motherhood there were the working moms, the stay-at-home moms, the work-at-home moms. My daughter always seemed to be too old or too young for most of my friends’ kids. By the time baby #2 arrived, I thought I was finally getting into the swing of things. But moms with only one baby seemed standoffish when I invited them to get together. I don’t know if it was my perceived experience or the two car seats in my back seat that made them wary. Then some of my new mom friends began moving on. They were finished with their families and their youngest kids were starting school. They were entering a new phase of life. But I was still knee deep in diapers. Then we decided to try homeschooling. When some of my friends were restarting their careers after staying home for a few years, I was diving into lesson plans and researching home school philosophies.

But even other homes school families didn’t want to let us into their club. My kids were too young, I wasn’t a “real” homeschooler yet, (whatever that means). Someones even my MOPS group, the one place where I thought everyone could fit, seemed to talk of little but birth experiences. Sure, that’s what we all had in common, but there must be other things.

I knew these women and I had things in common besides our kids. But those kids seemed to be a barrier rather than a facilitator of our relationships. I thought that once I had kids I’d have lots of friends because I’d be able to relate to other moms. But making friends hasn’t gotten easier, it’s harder. Sure I can talk to a mom I meet at the playground, I participate in a local MOPS group, and take my daughter to story time at the library. But I rarely have the time (or more honestly, the energy) to follow up and build relationships.

I wish I had a magic formula for you, a step by step plan that would lead to new friends and deeper relationships. But I haven’t found the answers myself. I know sometimes it involves extending myself and giving up convenience, like being 20 minutes late for a park play date because decided to knock on my neighbors door to invite her along. It means giving of our time and resources, like making desserts for a couple stressed young moms to give them a small luxury. Another part may be accepting that this is a season I’m in and look for opportunities to connect with others, in spite of the different places we are in. So in today’s Five Minute Friday I don’t have any answers, not really. No pithy recommendations or profound conclusions. Just questions of my own.

How do we have friends in spite of our children rather than because of them?