Throughout my life, I’ve always had a knack for finding and connecting with great people. In high school I joined show choir and drama club. In college, I sought out great people in a faith based club, and an outdoor adventure club. When I’ve been asked for advice as people head to college, I tell them to get connected, seek out people who challenge you and help you grow.
Fast forward to my adult life, and somehow all that advice fell by the wayside. I forgot how great it felt to be connected locally. After moving to a new town, I kept the connections I had made in my travels far and wide, but totally missed the boat in my local community.
Some would argue that rural living may not lend itself to instant connectivity. It’s not like you catch up with your neighbor as you’re wheeling the trash to the curb for pickup, or wave at each other across the fence. On top of that, throw an unpredictable farming schedule into the mix, and you have a recipe for a lackluster social life. But I longed for deep meaningful connection and I longed to find my people.
I remember hearing that when I had kids, I would find friends through the parents of their friends. Staring into the eyes of my sweet 6 month old, I thought, “It’s going to be awhile before this little guy is in t-ball!” And I just couldn’t wait any longer.
I googled “Mom’s groups” in my local area and found that there was a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting coming up. I was a little apprehensive about going at first, and almost talked myself out of it on more than one occasion.
The day of the meeting arrived and I felt like it was the first day of school. (Maybe it’s just me, but making real friends as an adult is WAY harder than as a kid.) However, as soon as I walked through the door, all of my apprehension faded away. I met the sweetest group of women, all with young children, all at the same place in their lives. THIS is what I had been missing in my life. THEY were what I needed, my people.
I feel like we are all on this parenting journey together. In the good times and the bad. It seems like no matter what is happening in my life, when I come to MOPS, grab a cup of coffee and sit down at the table among friends, it all feels OK. When I think of how close I came to talking myself out of going to that first meeting, I just can’t even imagine how different my life would be today. I am filled with gratitude for the friendships I’ve made.
The format of our twice monthly meeting is fairly predictable. We have a brunch sign up, and we all take turns bringing a dish to pass. Sometimes we have a speaker come talk to our group. The topics vary, from kid centered topics like sibling rivalry to more mom centered topics like how to find gratitude in our everyday lives. Sometimes we watch a video with an inspiring and uplifting speaker. Occasionally we do a craft together. There is always childcare. There is always uplifting conversation. There is always coffee.
I was talking with an older, wiser woman recently and she fondly recalled the friendships she had when her kids were young. The memories they made still bring a smile to her face, like the time they brought a bucket of tennis balls to the tennis court and rackets for all the kids and just let them run wild. Now those are fun friends!
I encourage you, if you’ve been thinking about reaching out in your community, to take the leap, in whatever form that may be for you. Be brave as you search for those sweet friends, the reward far outweighs the risk. Even if you’re out of practice or you feel like a fish out of water as new mom, they will give you the grace you need to find your footing again. Trust me.
Find your people. Walk this journey with those who love you, who get you and who want to do life with you. It makes all the difference.