Moving’s Different When You Have a Kid

Let’s roll out the ol’ welcome wagon to Marla Reichard, a new WMAG guest blogger. She’s a Working Mom Against Guilt with an adorable son and hubby. The Reichards moved recently from Cincinnati to Boston, and she shares some of her experience here. The Nati sure misses you, Marla! — Susan

By Marla Reichard

My husband and I have lived in 4 different cities and 3 different states in the last 12 years. By some people’s standards, that’s not a lot of moving, but to others, we’re nomads. We have the whole moving thing down to a science. Our last move, though, was quite different from our other ones. Recently, we moved from Cincinnati to Boston and besides the sticker shock over the cost of living increase, the major difference from our previous moves is that now there are three of us instead of two. We have a 17-month-old son and moving with him this time has made the whole process different.

By far, the biggest challenge with this move has been making new friends. Our old broad criteria for friends (are they nice? do they like beer?) has been replaced with some fairly specific requirements: they must live somewhat close to us and have at least one kid.

Now, this may seem a little ridiculous. I mean, some of our friends in Cincinnati (and various other places we’ve lived) didn’t live close by and don’t have kids. But the difference is, those people knew us BEFORE our little guy showed up. The friendship was already established, so it can survive our now crazy schedule and dealing with a toddler.

It’s entirely different when your kid is throwing raviolis across a restaurant table at someone you’ve known for years versus one of your new coworkers who made the mistake of telling you to bring the whole family for beers after work.

I joined a local “mommies” group and I’ve met a few nice women through that. It’s tough, though, because a lot of the women in the group are stay at home moms, so their activities tend to be scheduled during the day, when I’m at work.

I’ve tried talking to some of the other mothers at daycare since they’re working moms, too, but with everyone’s pickup and drop-off schedules varying, I sometimes won’t see someone I’ve met for several weeks, and even then we’re often passing one another on the way in/out.

Some well-intentioned, out-of-town friends have tried to introduce me via email to people they know in Boston, but they usually don’t meet the location and/or kid criteria. I’m sure some of them are nice people, but is some single guy living in one of the “hip” areas in Boston really going to want to haul his cookies out to the suburbs to hang out with me, my husband and the kid? Um, no.

From past moves, I know it usually takes us about a year to establish some friends and have a new place feel like home. Who knows if the addition of our son will make that process go faster, or cause it to take even longer? Having a toddler is great for starting conversations with total strangers, especially if they have kids, too. Of course, having a toddler is terrible for carrying on conversations because within seconds they’re off and running with you chasing right behind.

No matter what, I’m sure that in a year we’ll feel more settled. In the meantime, I’ll continue to go to as many mommy group activities as I can and keep stalking the other moms at daycare.

6 thoughts on “Moving’s Different When You Have a Kid

  1. While day care is good, I find that I have very little in common with those other mothers except for the mommy part. Same with my older daughter’s school. Instead, I’ve gotten to know the parents of their friends (and 17 mos is too young for friendship making) but the “friendship” doesn’t go beyond the scheduling of playdates. You might be better off just taking walks around your new neighborhood with your son on the weekends, scoping out the nearby parks. There you’ll probably find more working parents with young children and you can have casual conversations more easily. Good luck!

  2. Honestly, it’s even harder when you move to the Northeast cities of Boston or NY. There tends to be a little more of a parenting competition aspect, which can be unsettling. A year ago, I moved from Florida back to NYC, this time, with a child (age 14 months when we arrived). In my Florida town, people were really down on working moms (they seemed to barely exist) and I actually found it hard to make the type of friends you mention. However, there’s a sentiment and class issue I face in the Northeast that I’ve never faced anywhere else. Here are two things that have saved me: One, my son goes to a family daycare so it’s pretty intimate and so it has been much easier to meet and make friends with parents and their kids that way. Two, I keep on trying and have lowered my expectations. We might be friends with another family for three weeks, but then not talk to them again or for a while. I’ve done more of the inviting. I’ve bit my tongue more than usual when I feel judged. I’ve extended my hand many times at the park–sometimes it works, sometimes I’m rejected. And, I’ve said yes to every daycare kid’s birthday party that I am in town to go to. Finally (I guess this makes three) my neighborhood has a parents group on Yahoo and I’ve made some virtual friends there that later, at the park or out and about, I have become real sort-of friends with.

  3. I’ve been on the road for 7 years now. We are in the middle of our 5th move in a 7 years marriage (3 countries and 4 different cities). I find really difficult to make new friends every time we move. We don’t have children and we are thinking about it. But one of the cons of the decision is the gipsy life style we have and my work status too.
    But on the other hand, people say that when you have kids, it is easier to make friends, but you have to invest a litte time, patience and of course some rejection.

    Good luck!!

  4. just4ofus says:

    Welcome to WMAG! That would be hard. The friendship transition from no kids to kids is hard enough, but you sound like you are someone who easily makes friends.
    I think if you put yourself out there you will be fine.
    I have met a lot of my good friends at work.
    It is hard.

  5. I definitely feel your pain. I moved about a year and a half ago from DC, where I had a great network of friends (most from work or college) to Pittsburgh, where I grew up. Unfortunately, most of my childhood friends have gone and I’m starting from scratch here. And, unlike DC, it seems like there are hardly any working moms here. Plus I spent most of the first year here pregnant and feeling socially awkward. I’s say just within the last month or so I’ve started to make some actual friends. But I’d agree with jenm that lowered excpectations are key. I’ve also joined some social groups (almost jr. leaguey stuff) that normally would make me gag, but I’ve been pretty desperate to meet people and while there have been lots of eye-roll inducing moments, I’ve met some pretty nice women there.

  6. Thanks to everyone for their supportive comments and emails! It’s nice to know other moms have been through the same thing and to hear your suggestions. I’m sure I’ll make some friends over time. In fact, this weekend we’re getting together with a woman I met in the mommies group and her husband and daughter, so hopefully we’re on our way to forging a new friendship there.

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