We’ve all heard that “it takes a village to raise a child” and for some people that’s simple…
Growing up, my grandma and aunt lived right across town. I had another set of grandparents and even more aunts and uncles who lived less than two hours away. From a young age, I knew how much my family loved me because they were there for all of my important games, performances, and awards ceremonies.
Fast forward 20 years and we have our own little girl, but instead of being right across town, we live 12 hours away from our families. Like so many people who live in Dallas, we are transplants to the great state of Texas. We moved here three years ago for my husband’s job and since then, we have bought a house, celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary, and had a baby.
Perhaps the most important thing we have done, though, is find people who we have developed real relationships with – our “village”.
Within our little village, we have celebrated births, grieved loved ones, and experienced milestones. These are people who have loved us like family. They cooked us meals when our daughter was born, offered to babysit so we could get out of the house, and celebrated our sweet girl’s first birthday with us.
It wasn’t always easy to find those people and develop those relationships, but some relationships are worth working for. Here are five things that have helped us find those people and helped them to become like family:
1. Pursue the village
Unlike childhood, your new best friend (probably) isn’t going to show up at your doorstep and ask you to play outside. We had to make an effort and go out of our comfort zone to meet new people. This wasn’t always easy (I am an introvert in every sense of the word) and there were lots of awkward moments, but all of my good friendships came because I was willing to step outside my front door. You can meet new moms at the pool at your local recreation center or hang around and introduce yourself after story time ends at the library.
2. Go outside of your age bracket
While it’s important to meet moms who are in your phase of life because they know exactly what you’re going through, relationships with older and younger women can be just as valuable. One of my closest friends in Dallas is a mom who has children ten years older than my daughter. Another one of my good friends just got married and kids aren’t even on the horizon for her. Both of these women are so important to me because they can challenge my perspective. When I spend all day playing with baby dolls and singing Disney songs, it’s nice to talk with someone who doesn’t need to talk about a toddler’s sleeping habits or feeding schedule.
3. Put it on your calendar
If something is going to actually happen in our house, it has to go on our calendar. Chances are good on any given day that I either have applesauce on my shirt, I haven’t showered in at least 24 hours, or I have spent at least three hours the night before folding laundry because I put it off until 11:00 pm. All that to say, I’m not great at spur of the moment outings. It is important for me to find things that I enjoy doing and scheduling them on a regular basis. For me, that means every Tuesday night is Bible study with a group of women I love, Wednesday mornings are Library Story Time, and I try to pencil in every Dallas Moms Blog Play Date I can. Maybe for you it’s a class like cooking, fitness, or crafting – or maybe it’s a weekly play date or board game night with friends.
4. Be vulnerable
In our culture of only putting the best pictures on Facebook and showing up to every play date perfectly put together, it’s hard to be real with other people. There is so much pressure (especially on new mamas!) to be perfect, but if we are really going to find a village that becomes like our family, they have to know who we really are. So when your friend asks how life is going, answer them honestly and when you need a little help, just call someone up and ask. I discovered that once I let my guard down, other moms were much more likely to do the same.
5. Give it time
This is the hardest part for me, but real relationships just take time to develop. It took me almost two years living in Dallas to really feel like I had a good group of friends surrounding me. We spend almost 18 years with our childhood friends, learning each other’s secrets and becoming best friends, but we expect to have those same deep relationships within a month when we move to a new city. If you are feeling lonely or struggling to find your village, know you are not alone. There are so many moms out there looking to develop great friendships, just give it some time.
If I’m being honest, finding your village can be uncomfortable and downright scary. But once you have found those people that care for you like family, you will realize that life isn’t meant to be lived alone. Even in big cities like Dallas, you can create a close community of people who will truly become your village.
What helped you find your village and what encouragement can you offer new moms who are far away from their families? Let us know in the comments!