It has taken me over 11 years to realize how important it is to have a mom tribe. Absolutely pathetic, right? You see, I gave birth to my first child at the ripe age of 21. So while I was breastfeeding and changing diapers, my friends were partying and living their best lives. Do I regret having my kids at a young age? Absolutely not. Do I wish I had established a mom tribe early? Absolutely and believe me, I tried.
Early on in my motherhood journey, I tried multiple times to join mom group after mom group. I learned fairly quickly that I received more side eyes than invitations for play dates. I mean, guys, I look young for my age. So I would try again and the mom cliche wasn’t very welcoming. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends but most of them were single and kid free. I was just in a stage that they weren’t in yet.
Long distant friendships
I had a handful of friends who had kids but we were not local to each other. Life changes and busy schedules caused us to not talk on a regular basis. So our conversations would be few and far between. When we do have time to talk, it’s always interrupted by a kid who needs a snack. Why do they do that? Do these kiddos know the exact moment to be so needy?
When my oldest was at the tail end of middle school, I began a friendship with a couple moms at our elementary school. We soon hit it off and now we are a close as ever. There were many days were we would end up hanging out all day and plan to do the same the next day. It was glorious! Fast forward to 2016 and we decided to relocate, my two mom friends were crushed. I was crushed. It took so long to cultivate these relationships and now we will also have a long distance friendship.
Live a full life
The last therapy appointment before we moved out of California, my therapist was very blunt with me. She basically told me that I had to be open to changing how I interact with the world. I needed to live a full life and show my kids how to live a full life. She told me that I needed to get out of my comfort zone and find people to do life with in Arizona. Furthermore, she said if I didn’t, my depression would get much worse. So I mentally prepared myself to be more extroverted, start conversations, and find my tribe.
Once we settled into our new home, I began to look for a community that I could join. The church we started to attend had a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, so I decided to register. The group was full and I was waitlisted. I felt rejected. I know what you’re thinking – It’s not your fault that its full. Friends, I know that now but at the time I was longing for interactions outside of my house and my depression was rising by the day.
Anxiety is a liar
When a seat was finally available, it was midway through the Fall Semester. I was so nervous to walk into that meeting because I knew everyone was already established and comfortable with each other. Here I am again, the newbie. My table leader texted me the night before our meeting to welcome me to her table. She was also very welcoming when I sat down. Midway through the meeting, my anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt excluded as everyone at my table began to talk about the play date from the week prior. I remember leaving the meeting in tears, called my husband and he reassured me that it would get better.
My half Fall semester and full Spring semester was rough on me mentally. I was always late the playdates and meetings because my anxiety was clogging up my mind. Those negative thoughts of worthlessness and pity were so loud.
“Why would they be friends with you. You won’t make friends here. You should just leave.”
Find your mom tribe
Friends, I did not leave MOPS. I came back the following Fall and Spring semester with a determination to be stronger than my feelings of inadequacy. I got dressed, put makeup on, and forced myself to go even if my negative self talk was telling me not to. It was the best decision of my motherhood journey.
Through the last two years, I have learned time and time again that while my negative self talk is strong, I am stronger than my thoughts. MOPS has taught me to believe in myself and my abilities. Each meeting brought me out of my hardened shell of protection. I am happy to report that I have a tribe of women behind me that I am very vulnerable with and they love me through it. I have shared so many intimate details about my life with my tablemates and you know what, they support me, hug me tight, and give me words of encouragement – every, single time.
This year I am on the leadership team as a Discussion Group Leader (DGL) and I am on a mission to pour not only into the women at my table but the entire MOPS group. Motherhood is hard. Marriage is hard. It is so much easier going through life with a bunch of women who will rally around you at the drop of a hat. While I have no idea how Christ is going to do that through me, I am ready and willing to do His good works.
Do it anyways
I will be the first to tell you to join MOPS because it has transformed how I view mom groups. It takes a special group of ladies to do that. I had given up and now I am a true believer. Having people know the authentic you is so freeing. I can’t stress that enough. What are you waiting for? Sign up for Fall semester now!
If going into a new environment makes you sweaty and your heart race a million miles a minute, do it anyways. As a semi new transplant to the Valley, I can tell you I do more things that scare me than makes me comfortable. When you live in a new area, you have to accept that you will do a lot of new things. So I do everything with sweaty palms and a rapidly beating heart. This has taught me time and time again that I am stronger than my anxiety. Proving my anxiety wrong is a huge victory in the smallest of change.
You can do hard things
The reason I am able to create this blog is because of all of the times I challenged my anxiety. While failure is a constant fear, I know that trying and learning is more important. So thank you MOPS for teaching me what it means to live authentically. I am so happy God placed each and every woman in my life whether for a quick chat or extremely long text threads. I so appreciate all that my MOPS chapter has done to create such a welcoming environment. I wouldn’t be the Arizonian I am today without this group.
I hope this encourages you to join a moms group or seek healthy Christlike friendships with women in your area. You won’t regret it! Most MOPS Fall semesters are starting right now. If you haven’t already, find your tribe and love on them hard. It’ll be the best decision you will ever make.