Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's Lonely on the Playground

Empty Playground.
Photo by Revgar via Flickr
I love England. I really do and I feel blessed to have this opportunity. But, I must admit, I'm a bit lonely. I miss seeing familiar faces at school drop-off and lingering on the playground just to chat with a friend. Or getting there a few minutes early in the hopes of setting up a coffee date or to let The Boy play for a few minutes before his sisters get out.

Now, though the faces are becoming familiar, I am neither greeted nor greeting anyone with casual smiles and hellos. I know I could make the first move, but they all seem to be set in their groups. Adult cliques, if you please. There's one "mum" with 3 kids all about the same ages as mine, one of them is in class with my younger daughter. The girls appear to be on the way to bff-hood. But when I try to make eye-contact with her mother, there is no response. She doesn't speak to anyone but her kids. She hardly looks up.

I remember when I was a newcomer in Singapore. I didn't have any children yet and I forced myself out the door to join the American Women's Association (which was only about 51% American/Canadian and the rest a wonderful mix of cultures from all over the world).  I often thought how much easier it must be for parents to make new friends because of their schoolchildren. I suppose it probably was there; Singapore has a huge expat community.

Here, I haven't met another American since the plane from Paris to London. Not that I need to, of course. I'm just ready for a friendly face. Someone who smiles when they see me approach... aside from the beaming faces of my lovely children, I mean. Time to Skype with my mom, I think. Skype is great. My own bff has gone back to work after 6 years of SAHM-ing, and now our schedules conflict. A 5- hour time difference makes an impact in the evening. PMS and a traveling husband isn't making it any easier.

Well, I tackled the taxis, the buses and the trains. I've managed without a clothes dryer, hair-dryer or steam mop. I'm getting comfortable on the other side of the road (swear I'm going to blow a tire hitting the curb one of these days), lived through a few roundabouts and giant house spiders. It's time to find a social group to tackle until approachable faces pave the way back to a warm and comfortable friendship.


  1. Oh this is a tricky one.

    Making friends as adults is so very hard, and in a new place even harder.

    Hang in there, mama! And for the record, I'd so smile at you! :)

  2. So hard to make friends as an adult. Join a church or a church group. That's a place to start. You have moved to England, YOU CAN DO THIS.

  3. It was really hard when we lived in Argentina for me to make friends. Part of it was the language barrier of course, but the moms at the school seemed willing to try (Argentines are so outgoing they can't help but try). Anyway it took quite some time. Until you breach the culture just keep busy, and find something to join or participate in. I volunteered as set designer for a bilingual theater group. It got me out and about and not leaning on my kids for social outlets. I'm sure there's something for your skill set you could try.

    1. I'm sure there is... it's just I have The Boy to deal with. There's actually a blogger Meetup in November I'd love to attend, but I'm not sure I'm prepared to do the whole babysitter/childminder thing with him yet.
      Thanks for your comment and support!!

  4. You silly American girl! You have a beautifully bright beaming personality! And the British have a reputation of being prudish! Just a flash of that smile and a warm "Good day!" and you'll be charming your way into the hearts of mommies everywhere! Also, a good holiday (or UN-bday) children's party where you invite classmates & their parents always helps when feasible!

  5. Hello from the U.S.! Consider me a friendly face - I admire your strength...not easy being lonely in a new place! And a place so far from home!

    I, by the way, would not be comfortable on the other side of the road yet!!

  6. Oh it must be so hard. It's hard enough for me to make friends where I'm from, I can't imagine how much harder it is to be so far away from everything familiar.

    Hang on in there!

  7. It's rough. We have lots of friends who move for two years to far flung places for their job. By the time they adjust, they're back home. Hang in there! Maybe a mother-daugher tea with your daughter's BFF and her mom? My mom's from England and I know they can't resist their tea! Good luck!

  8. Yes I know EXACTLY how you feel right now! I am an Army wife and we move ALL the time, including Korea!! Don't get discouraged, get plugged into groups!! Be the one to organize playdates with your daughter's friends. Those moms are your lifeline right now. There should be EXpats around you, you may even find them on facebook. They always welcome Americans!!!

  9. oh and I love the coach taxi cabs there!!
    Where are you? there are several military posts in England, I have many friends there now.
    I'm jealous! I would love to live in England, was just there this summer for a few weeks! LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!

  10. Oh, so sorry! This must be hard. Especially if you are an extravert. But if the woman is always looking down, I'd say she's shy and maybe insecure. Of course, I could be totally off.

    I'd love to go to England one day. Totally envious!

  11. Happy Sharefest!

    I can only imagine how hard that would be. I hope that things get better. Maybe a get to know you playdate at your house. Kids and moms invited?

    Hang in there!


  12. I remember moving to a new city and how lonely it felt at first and how it took awhile to feel like I had a solid social network. I'm sure before you know it you will have lots of new friends and feel right at home!

    Popping in from sharefest, have a lovely weekend!

  13. A very touching post. When we moved to Australia with only two weeks notice, it was exciting. After getting there my husband's school sent him on a weekend field trip. I knew no one, had no vehicle. So, been there, done that. Hope everything goes well for you and your children. Visiting from Sharefest.

  14. I wish you luck in finding and making some great friends. I'm in the same boat. We moved a few months ago, and I have met very few people in our (new) small town. I have felt like I am invading their space, felt welcomed and ignored all at once and at the playground. Funny how once you grow up it's that much harder to make friends.

    Chin up. :-)

    Stopping by from the Sharefest!
    Ashley @ Bottles, Diapers...Babies

  15. You guys are all awesome!!! Thanks for all the kind words and support. I'll be visiting each of your blogs as soon as I can! At least I have plenty of "virtual" friends! :)


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