When we moved here in the last hours of 2001, I was very aware of what I was leaving behind in Atlanta: the place where I began and ended my first career, the town where we were DINKS, the restaurants and bars we loved, our first house where our first son was born, a multitude of friends, familiarity. When I awoke on the first day of 2002, I was very conscious of what we had come to in this new town. And it was all unknown.
We knew a few, really two, people and would quickly meet a few more through my hubby's job. But those first long days for me at home with a toddler were lonely without my network of friends. I had been very fortunate in Atlanta to move almost seamlessly from my professional life to my life as a mom. I had left work on Friday, unexpectedly had the baby Monday morning and by a week later had a group of friends all with brand new babies. We met at the hospital through a breastfeeding group. It was the quickest formation of a group of friends I had seen since my sorority days. We were old friends immediately and for my next 20 months we occupied each other's days with conversation and good old-fashioned female camaraderie.
It was during that period was when I first heard of the MOMS Club International. MOMS Club is a network of local chapters of support groups for stay-at-home moms. The club provides activities for SAHMs and their kids. It costs about $20 per year to join. My initial thought on the MOMS Club way back then was, "who needs that?" I had my own little support group in my circle of mom friends and as one of them put it when we discussed the MOMS Club, "You have to pay $20 to make friends??"
Then I moved away from my circle. Then I didn't know anybody in my new town. Then I would have paid good money for a friend. And I did. I saw an ad in our local paper that a new MOMS Club chapter was starting in my new area and was seeking board members. I couldn't dial the phone fast enough to volunteer to be the Vice President of the new chapter. And I wrote my check for $20 to seal the deal.
I had no idea what I was signing up for, having never been part of a MOMS Club. But I was willing to try anything. And for the next several years I spent my time at play dates and activities sponsored by our chapter. Each month I had a full calendar of events from which to choose. I knew there would be a trip to the local zoo or a visit to a park day to occupy my toddler and me almost any day of the week. And there would be friendly faces to share those activities with.
I paid $20 each year to keep those activities coming. It was well worth my money and not for the activities alone but for the friendships that were built standing around playground equipment or while sitting in a soon-to-no-longer-be-a-stranger's kitchen.
I am no longer part of the MOMS Club as PTA and Cub Scouts have taken precedence over our time now. But the friendships remain. We don't see each other as frequently as back in our pre-elementary school days. But the bonds are strong and we catch up over coffee or at after school pick up like things have never changed. To shamelessly steal from some marketing genius, MOMS Club membership: $20; the friendships that come along with it: priceless.
I recently said goodbye to a MOMS Club friend who moved away. Her move prompted these thoughts. She is moving to a new town where they know no one. Sounds familiar. We've all been in similar situations where we feel alone. There are some doors we must walk through alone. But usually when you make those initial hard solitary steps through the door there is someone, a old friend who can make you laugh, a new neighbor with a cup of coffee, your spouse who knows you best, or in some cases someone willing to accept cash or check, to close the door behind you and welcome you to your new home.