Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The New Girl

It doesn't matter where my daughter Chloe goes, when she comes home, she has a new best friend. Sometimes she doesn't actually know her name, and most of the time, she'll probably never see that child again, but it doesn't matter to her.

I took the kids swimming a couple months ago, and by the time we were finished Chloe had yet another best friend. When it was time to go, they exchanged the pretty rocks they'd found to remember each other by, and they even said a little prayer together, asking Heavenly Father to please help them find each other again.

Friends are everywhere.

When Bria first started Kindergarten, my mom called and asked her if she'd made any new friends. Bria, being the literal child that she is, laughed and said, "I can't make my friends Mamah! I don't know how! Their moms and dads just bring them there!"

To her, friendship wasn't anything difficult. And even though she couldn't literally "make" friends or "build" friendships with her own two hands, she didn't perceive that any work should be involved.

Friendship is easy.

Sophia, at three years old, is constantly asking me if people like her. "He like me, Mommy?" "She like me?" "All people like me?"

She wants friends, too. And when we find children her age, they are her automatic friends. If we go to a park, or to her preschool open house, or to nursery at church she is giddy with excitement. Excitement to see her friends. Friends she's never even met before.

Everyone is a friend.

I can't help but be a little (a lot) jealous of my children's approach to friendship. When it comes right down to it, I am a little (a lot) shy, even though I've worked very hard to overcome it over the years. And when I am thrust into a situation as The New Girl, all of the insecurity and introvertedness comes flowing back.

It has been especially hard moving into such a small town. Everyone seems to know everyone else. They know all about each other's lives, families and business. Even considering the wonderful reception we've received, I still feel like there is some sort of secret society into which I have not yet been inducted.

I went to Enrichment last week. There were 9 ladies there. Pretty much the entire Relief Society. I sat quietly listening to them chatter, almost oblivious to my presence. Toward the end I did manage to have a few conversations, but I know I'm not really a part of everything. Not yet.

I went to Sophia's preschool open house and didn't talk to a single other adult besides the preschool teachers. All of the other moms had friends to talk to. They didn't seem to notice The New Girl. Then again, The New Girl probably didn't seem to notice them, either.

I went to a practice session for a gal who is opening up a music preschool. Her husband works with Joel and that is why I was invited to bring my children along. Some of the same moms that were at the preschool open house were there. But still, they all knew each other, and they didn't know me. I was on the outside looking in. Besides, I was the only one who had three children to deal with, and I probably didn't seem very approachable while chasing Sophia around and trying to keep her off of the gymnastics equipment.

On my way out of that class, I exchanged smiles with another mom. One who I know lives around the corner from me. I'd like her to be my friend.

I'll see her again. There are other chances.

A smile is good enough for now.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. It takes time. We've moved several times and I've noticed it takes about a year before I feel "at home" at any given place and start knowing people in the way that I can just call them up on the phone with random questions. Keep smiling. It will come.

  2. I don't know how I would survive if I moved. Wouldn't it be so much easier if everyone made friends as well and easy as little kids? My George makes friends really easily as well.

  3. Your girls are the reason people like me make it through childhood alive. Having people around that make friends so easily is one of the only ways to get friends---so I'm glad you have girls like that:) And I hope you find someone like that your age soon.

  4. Bria and my daughter Bethany would be fast friends - they are definitely the same kind of girl. Bethany also does the "my new best friend -what's her name?" thing, too.

    Hugs for you - I wish you were here, and you could be MY friend to hang out with! It's hard for me, too. 6 months from now, you'll be so shocked to realize how many friends you've made, though, and what a part of things you are.

  5. A friendly smile is a great first step!!

  6. I remember you as a 3 year old on the sidewalk in front of our first home in Orem, saying, "Friends....come over here, I'm over here, come play with me!!!" Yelling at the top of your lungs. You were just like your girls. Somewhere life changes us a little. At least we think it does. BUT, You still are that girl, very approachable and friendly, look at the millions of friends you have here!!

  7. I am SO slow at making friends. My husband introduced me to one of my best friends after a year of living in the same place. I will forever be grateful to him for that.

    In high school, it was much easier for me. Now I'm afraid to step out of that comfort zone and be judged.

  8. I wish in high school I was able to make friends that easily.

  9. Gah! I hate being the new girl. it does take time, but a smile is a great start.:)

    And, I totally understand the small town secret club thing. I went to a PTA meeting at my son's school the year he started kindergarten. There were maybe fifteen people there all total. After the meeting, I went up to the president, gave her my name and telephone number, told her I was absolutely willing to help. She never called. Not because she thought I was mean or awful, (although, i guess she could have. It's not like I asked or anything) but mostly because they already had a group of women that did everything. They all knew each other. They went to church together, or their kids had been in preschool together... I was the new Mom, and they didn't need me. In a way, I was relieved, cause you know, my plate is way too full to be an active part of the PTA, but I can't say it didn't make me a little sad.

    Now, three years later, I have my own group of Moms at the elementary school that I am friends with.

    And NONE of us are in the PTA. :)

  10. I think some times we have the opportunity to feel like the new girl w/out friends so we can be the nice and welcoming girl when the time comes. Hang in there it will get better. I don't think it will take you as long as it took me (5 years). You have an awesome personality, just remember that!!

  11. Lara, I know exactly how you feel! It seems like it comes so naturally to children. They don't know rejection, and that's a wonderful place to be. When we moved to a small town we had family members who lived there and my husband had spent much of his childhood there. The women at church automatically assumed I felt their feelings of fondness for my husband as feelings of fondness for me and didn't connect the two that I needed actually interaction with them to feel included. Eventually a whole group of us "newbies" ganged up and decided to make friends with as many of the "oldies" as we could. By the time we left that town we pretty much couldn't throw a party anymore because the list of friends and fond acquaintances was too long. The small town can be a hard place, but not an impossible place. Who knows, maybe you're next friend will be met at Burger King three tuesdays in a row...not that I'm speaking from experience or anything ;)

  12. As someone who has been the New Girl over and over again, I completely know where you're coming from. I'm a little shy, too, and it's hard to keep starting over and putting yourself out there. I think it also depends on where you live; when I moved to Minnesota, it literally took me about 2 years to make a friend, because everyone else had lived there their entire lives, and never thought to expand their circles outward (all my friends there are either fellow outsiders or they moved away for a long time before coming back, no joke!). Here in WA, though, there are a lot more transplants, so people tend to be more welcoming, since most of them know what it's like to be the new kid.

    For me the key was just always reminding people that I was there, and suggesting ways that we might get to know each other better, if they didn't ("Want to have a cup of tea?" etc.). It sounds like you're in a very welcoming community, though, and pretty soon they'll see how lovely you are, so I know it'll come for you! Hang in there, it'll happen.

  13. Ah yes. Why I hate moving. Why the ward split nearly brought me to tears (everyone that I knew where they lived was leaving). Being the new girl is hard. You have super friendly neighbors though, and a close-knit branch. Give it a little time and things should be wonderful. You are going to be there for quite a while after all.

  14. a) You will always have me, howeverI realize that is little consolation in a room full of strangers.
    b) I felt the same way when I moved to CA, for a good year (although, I was working so I didn't go out to much).
    c) The one thing I learned from that is that people WANT to be talked to, it reminds me to take that extra step to talk to the new girl.
    d) You're gonna have to be the one to initiate it. It's painful and hard and you worry you're being overbearing, and perhaps you are but people will still love you.
    Almost as much as me.
    Oh and e) it'll get better once your kids are in school, it always does.

  15. Oh Lara, this just made me cry.

    It's VERY hard for me to make friends. It's not that I'm shy but I hig HIGH expectations for friends and not everyone can meet those expectations.

    God will send the right person your way at just the right time.

    Be patient, and for now, I'm am positive a friendly smile is just fine.

    Don't forget too, you always have us right?

  16. My sister says that every time I move to a new place, I strut into church and say, "I'll take this calling and that calling, and I choose you, you, and you as my friends."

    She's such a brat.

    It's hard, especially when it feels like rejection. And I'm sorry you're feeling bad.

    Can you just walk around the corner and drop in on the gal you recognized? Maybe take a little treat or sing "Gia Il Sole dal Gange" to her to break the ice?

    That's such a cheerful little ditty, and she'll certainly know what she's getting in a friend!!

  17. Our house went under contract today, so apparently I'll be the new girl in a month or so. I remember being the new girl here, and the oddness of it all. I assume it will feel weird for a while, and then I'll find those people I can't imagine not knowing. It takes time. And actually, after we'd moved here I prayed to have a best friend move next door. Within a year, she had. I can't stand to leave them!

  18. This is the number reason I don't want to move in the spring. But you're right. Smiles go a long way and eventually, you'll become part of their life landscape.

  19. my brother has always been like your girls, everyone just becomes his friend. it's always been a little harder for me.

    sounds like you've got a promising lead though. :)

  20. It's so much easier to make friends when you are very young. I have been living here for three years and I am just starting to think I might have some friends here. You are a friend magnet, though, I'll bet within few weeks you'll have so many friends you won't know what to do with them! (And in the meantime you can hang out with the old ones here)

  21. I know how you feel! The ward we moved into here in Idaho isn't as small as your branch in Michigan, but most everyone here is related to someone or has been living here so long that they feel related. It took a little while to get into things, but I forced myself to jump in and participate. Best thing I ever did.

    Kids are lucky. They have no inhibitions so making friends is quite a bit easier. At least that's what I think.

    I'm sure you'll make friends very soon! I felt like we were friends the first time you responded to a comment I made on your blog. You are great!

  22. I feel your pain. It's been like that for me every time we've moved to a new city/ward. But, as can be attested to by our friendship, those friendships come. I'm so grateful for you and the other friends I made when we moved to Cedar. We're thinking about you and your family. Be brave!!!!

  23. Oh, this post just reached out and grabbed me. I'm sorry--sorry that you had to move and that you have to readjust and make friends and start all over again. But I'm certain that you will find friends, and that friends will find you!!

  24. I hate how I still feel like a schoolgirl when making new friends.

    Every neighborhood seems to have a secret society. I don't think I'm in mine. I know I'm not.

    Only a matter of time before all the ladies will want a piece of Lara. Because Lara pie is sweet.

  25. It is hard moving to a new town. I wish you the best!

  26. It seems to take a year or so to really feel at home and included in a new place. That's how long it took me when we moved to Springville and that's how long it took when we moved from Springville and into the Cedar Meadows ward...
    This last move has been easier, mostly because it was just across town and I still have my friendships from before close by.

  27. Even though there are already many comments, I had to add my 2 cents just because I have totally been feeling like the New Girl at my daughter's preschool too. It's funny that I should feel that way since this is the 2nd year she's at that preschool, and I already know some of the parents. But for some reason they all seem to know each other much better than I know them. It makes me wonder if I missed some big parent fiesta or something :-) Either that or I'm just preoccupied myself with my 3 little ones, my calling and life....

  28. I hate that feeling. I've been in my ward for 4 years and still feel that way sometimes. Knowing you, it won't last long. Just keep doing your part!

  29. I can't imagine it taking too long for you to make lots of new friends yourself. But kids are so naturally good at it, aren't they?

  30. Oh I so know how you feel. I have always admired my daughter Shellise for being so outgoing and friendly to everyone. Even as a toddler she would make friends with everyone. It didn't matter where. McDonalds, the park, church, school... even on vacation out of state. I have never been like that as I am like you especially when I am the new girl. It's hard to break out that shell. It's something I have to work really hard at. Good Luck! Give it some time. I am sure in no time at all, you will know several people that you will be calling your friends. :)

  31. Oh, Lara I know what you're going through...

    We moved so much while our kids were growing up ( 13 times in 20 years ) that I often felt slighted or excluded from things, even at church when we first moved in. The kids and my Hubs did better than I did with it and over time, neighbors, school and work friends and church people warmed up to us. I was upset and shed a few tears along the way but it did get better.

    It is hard to break through when people are so entrenched in each others lives/histories that they sometimes simply forget that fellowshipping and inclusion is an ongoing process !

    hang in there

  32. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I'm SO shy. I have the hardest time saying hi to people I know slightly, let alone people I don't know at all. I'm just really easily intimidated. Case in point: You intimidated me the first time I met you and you're one of the nicest people on the planet. Funny thing is, I usually become the closest to the people that intimidate me the most.

    Anyway, hang in there. You'll find a way to get noticed. You're talented, intelligent, caring and friendly. Anyone would be lucky to be your friend.

  33. I am with you! My husband could talk to a wall if it would talk back, but I'm typically a little shy in new situations. It is hard sometimes, and it just takes time. Glad you guys are settled in!

  34. The friend thing is something we're dealing with at home too. My twins are very, very concerned about it (now that they're in seperate classes this year). I remember making friends easily when I was very young and it getting harder and harder as I got older. I wish I could take lessons from my kindergarten self.

    I'm sure you'll make friends very soon. And don't forget that you always have friends here too. =]

  35. I hear ya on being the new girl thing. Moving is SO hard sometimes. I walk Brody to kindergarten everyday and all the mom's know each other and are having a grand time talking away. Its so hard some days! Hang in there!

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