Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jennifer Frank, MD: Making friends, Part 2

Last week, I described the challenge of fitting friends into a schedule already packed with numerous roles and scarce on time and opportunity to connect with other women like me.

I recently explored a Web site — meetup.com — that links people with similar interests who live in the same geographic area via an Internet group. I went to one meetup group as a guest of a friend but didn’t quite make a connection with the other women. They were mostly single professional women. Because my family is at the center of my life, it is hard to maintain a conversation for long without trying to connect over this very important part of who I am. I joined a moms’ breastfeeding group while I was on maternity leave but never made it to a single event, having seriously overestimated what my post-baby energy level would be.

More recently, I found another meetup group of working moms with young kids that may prove to be a great fit.
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I was supposed to go to an event to meet other group members first before officially joining just to make sure it was a mutually agreeable match. When the introductory event was cancelled, I was invited to join anyway and have already been to two events — both I would describe cautiously as successes.

On the pro side, I meet women like me — balancing marriage, motherhood, and careers. Moms who are able to admit that work can be the most restful and sane part of a normal day. Women who value friendship but are unwilling to chase friends at the expense of spending time with the little people who are so important to them. I love the balance of MNO (moms’ night out) and kid-friendly activities. I have resolved to attend one child-oriented and one mom-oriented activity each month.

On the con side, it feels artificial to meet friends via the Internet. I secretly fear having other moms ask if I can just take a quick look at their sons’ rashes or pump me for my opinion on the link between autism and childhood immunizations. I wonder how much (besides kids and work) I will end up having in common with these women. And finally, having two extra events on our family’s monthly calendar has the potential to take a large toll on our energy and time.

All that said, I really enjoyed my recent outing with the group. It was fun for me to spend time with both my kids and some new and interesting women. It was multitasking at its finest (I know we’re not supposed to multitask but it is endlessly appealing to do). I feel more at home with other working moms who are simpatico with the need to connect with adults while holding the hand of your child. This event coincided with my inability to link up with a friend of ours, a stay-at-home mom who I really like. Unfortunately, due to time reversal (she is free when I am not — during the day Monday through Friday), our plan to get together for coffee fizzled. So, I see continued value in putting both my limited time and energy into cultivating friendships with the women in this meetup group.

Jennifer Frank, MD, FAAFP, is an assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine and a faculty family physician at the Fox Valley Family Medicine Residency Program in Appleton, Wis. She is a mother of four, whose husband, also a physician, is a stay-at-home dad.

1 comment:

  1. Try your local libraries. Increasingly they are putting together discussion groups,study groups,etc. which can be interesting. Virtual groups can also serve the purpose of getting friends and people to interact with. Believe it or not FACEBOOK is fast becoming an important place for social networking.