Hey moms, can you make room in your circle for one more?

Mom shaming and mom guilt—two things mothers everywhere want to put a stop to. There’s a silent third mom stigma that needs to be erased, too—mom cliques. That’s right. It’s a thing. At 32 years old, I never imagined struggling so hard to find quality friendships and women who offer open arms.

Flashback to starting high school in a new city. The fear of navigating maze-like hallways, getting to class before the door shut to avoid the awkward knocking, and pin-dropping silence as you made your way to an open desk with all eyes on you. Imagine being new and being late! I wouldn’t dare, so one morning I went in early to school before the buses arrived and walked my route to class so I wasn’t awkwardly staring at my schedule while shuffling through the crowds. I desperately wanted it to seem as though I knew my way.

On top of finding my way through the halls, I had to find friendships.

Wow, was that hard. Cliques on cliques on cliques. Feeling like I found my place with girls only to be gossiped about and excluded at times behind my back. Going from walking the halls and locker notes with my bestie to a year later walking solo to chemistry because I was replaced.

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I vividly remember reassuring myself up and down that I’d never encounter another awkward social setting after that. That THIS was the only time I would struggle with bullying and not fitting in.

Wrong.

Just as I felt at 15 walking through cold, crowded hallways trying my hand at making friends, here I am 20 years later as a mother attempting the same feat.

Circles open and then close before I ever have a chance to step in.

I walked into an indoor children’s play place when my son was around 10 months old one morning. We had been attending circle time at that point for about three weeks. I sat next to a woman and her daughter who I had been fortunate enough to have some adult conversation with in the past after class. We chatted and smiled, and I felt like I belonged.

That was until her other friend came to class, and she got up and moved seats and ignored me and my son for the remainder of the class. I felt embarrassed, let down, and no longer welcome. I felt lonely, too. Sure my son was having a nice time, but I couldn’t understand why she felt the need to move. I saw her for another four weeks of class, and it was surface-level discussion, rushed, and then she moved on and talked about barbequing and having playdates with other mothers.

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I don’t need or want pity, and I don’t feel entitled to be a friend. I want to earn friendship, but I need the chance first.

So I ask you, moms, can you make room in your circle for one more?

Can you make room for the inexperienced mom new to town and new to motherhood?

Seasoned moms at soccer, can you make room for me, the mom carrying bags up to her elbows because she’s not sure how sports with kids go? Can you show me the way?

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Moms at music class who have been members since the grand opening, can you make room in your circle for me? Can you show me the ropes and save me a seat on the mat near you?

Moms at school, can you make room for me in your morning catch up session after we drop our babies off?

There’s no harm in having more friends. The only harm is when a genuine, new mother is looking for guidance and companionship and she’s left alone.

Instead of talking about other moms, can you talk to them? Be the person you needed when you stepped into motherhood.

Can more circles be open, so more hearts can be full?

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.