Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Why didn’t anyone tell me that the Army is not a place for introverts and neither is motherhood? At all, in any way shape or form? I knew it would be tough, I knew it would mean deployments and moving and generally less control over our life. The hardest part though, has been making friends each time we start over again. And when we were a young couple it killed me a little because I’m shy and I had to summon all my courage over and over again until I had some friends. It was work but eventually I found a circle each time. Now, after five moves in five years I’ve been running on empty for three years, constantly putting myself out there, meeting wonderful people, being friends for a few months, then starting over. Rinse, repeat. This is one of the largest bases we’ve been at, and also the first where we don’t have friends from previous assignments, what are the odds? I’ve made wonderful friends, some that I’m quite sure will be lifelong, and they’re all at other posts. And now I have to make mom friends. Which, nobody told me, is like dating times middle school cliques.

I was always told: middle school is rough but then by college people are less mean and there are all these great people to meet and endless social possibilities. Which is true. But then there’s dating, which is also painful for a shy person. And if you’re lucky you stumble sideways into a wonderful person early on, which I did. And then we had a baby and moved when he was 5 months old. And suddenly I’m back in MIDDLE SCHOOL! Why did no one WARN me?! There was this fantastic reprieve from not belonging and not being cool and not getting invited and not being quite certain who you are anymore and it only lasts less than a decade? What. The. Fuck. Pardon my french, but seriously.

I kinda got invited in to the crunchy mom circle because I babywear and breastfeed, but I’m the odd mom out because I’m a sticker for evidence based practice and there’s too much pseudoscience and mommy blog advice for me. Heaven forbid we hang out with people who don’t affirm our parenting choices, because for some reason motherhood becomes a lobotomy that cuts off all the parts of our brain not related to talking about our kids (and it’s not just the crunchy moms). Our congregation doesn’t have many small children so while I’m spiritually fed, there isn’t any mommy fellowship. The neighbors are very friendly, well, neighborly, but they all get together with their kids almost daily and I rarely get invited. I hope it’s just because I don’t have a preschooler like they all do, but I probably said/did something wrong and I learned a long time ago not to get hung up obsessing about what I might have done so, whatever. There’s a group of moms that do crossfit at the playground out our window while their kids play, but I’m weak sauce, I’m too out of shape these days to keep up even if I had the guts to invite myself over. The “romp and stomp” type events open to anyone on post seem like a great idea but in reality if you’re supervising your kid there’s not a lot of good conversation going on, and when people start talking and stop watching the kids run amok and my little guy just isn’t old enough to fend for himself. I would love to find non-mommy friends, but most of those activities would involve me hiring a babysitter and making my attachment-parented baby sob big fat ugly cries so I can go drink wine or go to a concert or play bunco (all of which are fabulous,  but not if that’s the price).

Where is a mom who will sit with me by a kiddy pool with margaritas and talk about something besides our kids or the Army? I just need one or two, really, is that so much to ask for at one of the largest posts in the Army? Really, I thought my social life would get better moving from one of the smallest, and in fact, it’s worse. Because before there were very few options or activities, but after 6 months I had some great friends. Here, after 6 months I’ve tried a bunch of things and have only managed to find all the places I don’t belong. The groups are either too big and broad to meet someone you have anything in common with, or too small and cliquish and same-minded. So I try the mom-friend-dating route. I’ve thrown out dozens of individual invitations for play dates and we’ve had zero. I’ve tried awkwardly to start up conversations with total strangers at the pool or playground (the bars of mom-friend-dating) and haven’t clicked with anyone, maybe because nobody’s drinking. Can we get a match.com for mom friends? I’m down. Anything but this. Anything.

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