I am shy with something somewhat like social anxiety. I am not great at making friends, and have no close friends. I have 5 small children, whom I am with 24 hours a day, which is my biggest barrier to finding anyone with whom I have something gin common. I have almost no outside interests. I'm a hermit!
My husband works full time and goes to school full time. I almost never see him. My mother lives with me, but she is an a rather unpleasant person to be around a lot of the time, so I don't do friendy things with her. We are on an extremely tight budget, so there is no money to take a class for myself, or do almost anything else I can think of where there would be an opportunity to strike up a conversation with a woman of similar interests. And I usually don't have the time to put into cultivating a relationship/friendship anyway.
We do homeschool thing with other homeschool moms, but 1. They are all as busy as I am and we never can get together, and 2. This may sound awful, but I don't really like any of them. It's crazy. They are either very religious and only hang out with their church friends, and I do not belong in that scene, or they are just not a personality type that would mesh well with me/that I find interesting/tolerable, or they have none of the same interests.
I'm at a loss. I've really only ever had a few close friends in my entire life, and I mean like 4, and only one was female. And, to make matters worse, we are about to move out of the city to a quite rural area. There are no coffee catches out there, even if I were to ever get invited to that sort of thing. I don't know what's wrong with me, but how the heck do you find friends, and keep them?
FAs, co-sleeping, babywearing, extended nursing, positive parenting, homeschooler
I feel for you. I'm overwhelmed by two kids, I can't imagine 5.
I used to be a hermit, but my kids needed friends, so I started hanging with other moms and learned social skills simply so my kids wouldn't be ostracized by the moms. It was hard to figure out all that when I would rather have been home doing something on my own, but I did it. My guess is when the kids are grown I'll likely revert to being a hermit.
In your circumstances and budget, I'd say volunteer somewhere doing something you like. If you like animals, volunteer at a rescue group. If you like plants, volunteer at a botanical garden. If you don't like anything much, figure out what type of people you would want to associate with. I've noticed in our area most hospital volunteers are retirement age. So if that's the folk you want to be with, volunteer at a hospital. If you want to be around intelligent folk with a lot of curiosity, see if your local newspaper uses volunteers.
Also, I think a lot of shy people with quiet lives think no one would want to hear about their lives. However, remember the story is in the telling. It's not WHAT you've done, it's HOW you talk about it. Instead of saying, "I'm a shy person and don't do much," you could say, "I find solitude grounds me and let's me connect with each moment and what I'm doing. There is something totally hypnotic about mopping floors. The back and forth motion of the mop. The way the water at first gushes off the mop, then trickles. Who would have ever thought you could see so many different water flow rates while mopping a floor." Then genuinely laugh at what an interesting opportunity for observation floor mopping can offer and the absurdity others might see in glamorizing floor mopping. Or whatever it is you would have to talk about. And remember, you're not going to make friends with everyone. You just want to find the other people that find mopping mesmerizing.
Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.
I'm right there with you, though for me I suppose it's more of a sahm issue than a homeschooling one. My dd is 3, and my ds is 1, so we're basically just doing learning through play right now. I live in a small rural community, my hubby works long hours and we only have one car. My children do have a few cousins around their age, so they do get a new playmate once a week or so, and we try to hit up the park or the playplaces where they can socialize and run out their energy. But I'm lonely, and bored, and restless. My solution-we've decided to move to a different town that is still small, not very far from here, but is more walking friendly and does more community events. They also have the amtrak if ever I wanted to venture to the big city alone/without the hubby.
Hugs, and commiseration.
Love the volunteering suggestion -- if you volunteer with something you're passionate about, you're more likely to find like-minded people.
I'm also "shy" and socially awkward - I've learned to cope with small talk and the social niceties over the years and in my work I'm actually interacting with lots of people All The Time and everyone thinks I'm very friendly and approachable, etc... but while I have many friendly acquaintances, I don't have many "friends" of the type I'd call up anytime and arrange a get-together for coffee, etc. Hardly any, in fact. Like you said, a lot of the time I just don't *like* the people enough. I might like them enough that I don't *dislike* them, you know, and even quite appreciate and enjoy many of them... but we have enough base philosophical differences that there's no "attraction" to form any kind of a real bond of friendship at all.
Are you on Facebook? I've actually made some online friends from joining group pages for causes/issues I'm passionate about (generally involving natural parenting, birthing, breastfeeding, homeschooling, green living, etc). While speaking in public can be difficult for me, I love to write and to type. My very opinionated self can live freely! So when questions are asked in this groups about something I'm knowledgable about -- kind of like here at MDC -- I'll leave lots of comments. I also occasionally notice someone else commenting whose comments really 'click' for me. A few times, it's clicked enough - or I've seen the same person posting often enough - that I send a friend request. Or, vice versa, I *get* friend requests from strangers because something I wrote clicked with them.
Once we're "friends" on FB we can get to know each other a little better through our other posts. It's a different kind of friendship, of course, than a 'real live person'. We can't get together for coffee. But sometimes you can open up more with someone you don't have to deal with in 'real life' all the time. It's kind of like a penpal, though a bit more personal maybe. And because I'm starting from an issue group that aligns with my biggest 'hot button' issues, any philosophical differences that do arise aren't likely to be deal-breaker ones for me.
Anyway, sometimes I'd like to go out and hang with a friend at the coffee shop like I did when I was a university student. But... I'm not a young student anymore. I have this life now and for the most part, I quite enjoy it. I'll have time to cultivate adult friendships again when my kids are grown and left the nest. Until then, I'm happy enough with my 'acquaintance' friends and get enough in-person socializing from my work (too much, in fact), and happy enough with my virtual friends (from FB, MDC, and a couple of other mailing list groups I'm on) for real conversation!
Gently, do you think you might be depressed, or your social anxiety is making things seem worse than they need to be? Your view of your options is so bleak, it seems like maybe your perspective is a little skewed (seriously, none of the homeschool moms you meet are tolerable?). My experience with homeschool moms is that they are generally nice people with a wide swath of interests, and I can almost always have a pleasant conversation about something-- if we don't have a lot in common, we can talk about our kids, or I ask them about their interests and learn about something new. These don't always turn into the kind of friendships where we hang out without kids, but it does let me connect with people, and I know I have folks in my life who care about me, KWIM? If the people you're meeting are really nasty, then you might need to look for a new group-- usually mean people clump together and there are nice people out there avoiding them.
Don't count out women who are religious because they're religious, how would you feel if someone wouldn't get to know you because of your beliefs? Give people a chance. If you keep showing up at the same activities, or at the park at the same time, you will gradually get to know people, and make connections.
Also, will your mom watch the kids for you while you go out on your own sometimes? That might give you the opportunity to pursue an interest and have a little time with no one in your arms.
Best of luck.
Our budget's not so tight, but we have definitely maxed out our activities budget with just a couple of things. We live in a small town and don't have many friends. If I am looking to add something (and I know I can't afford it) I look to the library in town, 30 minutes away. They have all kinds of activities and events. Museums have free nights. 4-H is practically free-- it has very few expenses except for fair time-- and will be pretty active in rural and semi-rural areas. We find the festivals and other events-- Prairie Appreciation Day, or Shorebird Festival, or community festivals and parades. I found a local-ish email homeschooling network and found activities on that. And yes, like pp's have mentioned, there are volunteer activities we could incorporate.
Most often we either stay home or head to the park or library. Spring brings work in the garden and coop. The girls have just learned to ride their bikes. It's time to get our chicks to raise for the fair. We continue to raid the library for books and videos. We'll have to spend more time at home just because everything is so far away and gas prices are $4/gallon. Thankfully, spring is here, then summer and I find that our homeschooling seems to kick into overdrive just from that.
I'm sorry I have no advice for what seems to be the larger issue-- parenting 5 kids without a break, missing your dh and being home with someone so unpleasant. Often it seems to me that when I get to the point that I am desperate for advice I find that things start getting better.
Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
First off hugs, you sound pretty lonely and frustrated with your situation!!! I am newer to homeschooling my 2 and run into this at times. However mine are now older so it is getting "different".
When they were younger we moved a bunch and it was always hard finding new people to hang out with that would offer support. I used to plan times that I might meet someone and practice reaching out striking up conversations with them. I was on a tight budget and tried to find local venues where the kids could play for awhile. We would go to McD's or Chuck E Cheese in the morning after breakfast, I would order a drink, and they would go in the playthings. I would look for moms who had kids similar ages and force myself to reach out. Questions like how old are your kids were easy, I practiced others and practiced my own responses as well prior (one of the pp mentioned responding as well). I found it got easier and I was able to eventually meet some very nice people. I now volunteer with groups I am inclined to be supportive of that require minimal involvement (meetings once a month type things) and I volunteer through my church. I used to participate in a study group at our old church partly because babysitting was offered for a very minimal charge (couple $) so I got a tiny "break" (hubby worked about 90 hours a week) and time with grown-ups. Are there any opportunities available in your community for this? It takes practice to gain some of those skills, but it is worth it for sanity's sake and for your kids imo.
Have you checked out your area here on Mothering.com, Find Your Tribe? Maybe there are other moms on this forum who you could plan to meet up with. You must share some things in common with the other mothers on this board. I would second the notion of getting out to places that have interest to you so you will meet people who will be interested in it to. Art museum, library, ymca?
I have a hard time making friends too, and I don't love hanging out with big groups of people. I like to find one really good friend and latch on! Unfortunately, you usually need to start with a group and figure out who you mesh with before you can attach to your one close friend.
Hello, just wanted to say hang in there. I am in a similar place, we live in a semi-rural area...and i am home with my 2 little ones (and pregnant with our third). We are planning on homeschooling (my son is 5 and daughter 3), and i am committed to that choice, but somewhat scared as we are completely isolated already, there is no homeschool community to speak of, and I really have no friends or other stay at home mammas to hang with. I have been reaching out on the mothering finding your tribe forum to find others in my area, so i am hoping we will find some others in our area! I think there are lots of other Mammas in the same situation....and i really feel for you, as its so challenging to both be the primary caregiver, and not have not have friend/social outlets for yourself. I guess I don't really have any advice really, just wanted to let you know that you are not alone! (My plan is to convince my husband to move south, near a beach, so at least if we have no community to hang with, or family nearby to help with occasional childcare, we could go to the beach!... we'll see how that goes over) ;)
My trip is that I miss hippies!!! I found some great moms but they are so far away that I really can't afford to hang out often (gas money :P).
Well.. Hobbies..Alright.. I am thinking that "pinterest" would reallllllllllly help you in so many areas. Make dream boards and just try a board that might interest you.."collect" those for awhile and see what happens.
Do you like nature? Nature can lead to many hobbies without thinking about a lot of money. Seeds even from your food can work. Composting/digging in the ground to get "volunteer" plants even.
"Pandora" music has got to call you some how! Finding new music can become such an expression! Have 3 minute dance parties, even alone!
Bright colors! If no one is around wear things differently. Maybe even red lips, or if totally natural is your thing, than a scarf.. just try a little color therapy, you never know.. and it really works.
I know you said you want friends, but ever thing about the passing moment were you see a mom and you can tell you like her? Maybe try to hone in on your self image while you have this hermit time. The times you go out you may feel like wearing you much more... and that may be a sense of attraction for your friend. Looks aren't important, but somehow people really do smile and draw near the person that interests them, and sometimes our outfit, etc, is the "sign." Or just make dreads :D! (kidding if your not interested, but it is a pretty big statement no matter what you wear.)
As for the hobbies, once you get a vibe for something the materials may come to you from strange places. Mine is paper (making a butterfly mobile from sticks and vines tonight) and just found a great way to use cardboard instead of canvas.. I am pretty tight on the budge too! Maybe even I will paint one black and use chalk.
With a new house comes new energy and lots of uplifting nesting feelings! Try to make that a hobby! our home is our larger self and can grow tons more love if it looks like sunshine (to me)... I have never found tons of money to make this happen better than if I had money. Making tissue paper flower balls instead of curtains in the playroom this week too. corduroy is also a great material to sew toys like they make from felt on etsy.. you can buy old pants or skirts to try this too.
Photography is another thing to explore and so fun! You can make art just by changing stones around in the yard too - then taking a photo. tons of the children of course too.
Last thing is.. if you can't kick the funk, please try drinking juice. I recently started and feel like a teenager again! Getting a kale and carrot garden first would make it tons affordable.
Singing is also another fun one and free.
Also being in love. Hard to muster up, but if I had no money ever. I think I would spend a lot of my creative arts writing poems for my love. Journaling may be a good start.
Dreaming... Light a big huge candle for yourself and tell God, or whatever you believe, that you are grateful for the people around you, your love, and then say "friends? More Please!!!"
Leslie, organic semi-unschooling mama teaching my children 5 and 2.75, that love & happiness is most important. Letting their light shine, finding out they are teaching me. Love being in the moment & nature.