Saturday, April 12, 2008

How to meet a woman

For as long as I can remember, women and girls have wanted to know how to meet other compatible women and girls for friendship, hanging out, shopping, girl-talk and shared babysitting. Just yesterday, Sue Shellenbarger answered this question in her work column in the Wall Street Journal. A woman wrote to ask how to find a working mothers group in her locale. Sue replies
    1. Do a web search
    2. Look in a book store for a book club group
    3. Check out the library
    4. Call or check the web site of your local Children's Hospital family resource office
    5. Start your own group
    6. Sign up your child for Saturday activities and get to know other mothers.
Apparently, Sue doesn't think churches are a resource for friendship. In my experience, it's a lot easier to meet other women when you have children in the home. However, churches offer many service opportunities and classes, and these tend to be mostly for women, although some attract couples. So, I don't know if Sue just isn't aware of what's happening at her neighborhood churches and synagogues, or if houses of worship are hiding their light under a bushel except when advertising a concert or bake sale. I have a friend who is active in many organizations, more than I would ever want, and yet she recently joined Bible Study Fellowship, an international, non-denominational women's group that meets weekly at the Church at Mill Run, and she told me how much she is enjoying meeting new Christian friends in her small group. We met about 35 years ago in a church women's group and became friends. Friday I saw another woman from that same group at the coffee shop.

Since I retired I've expanded into my no-comfort zone, occasionally visiting the shut-ins and nursing home and helping in the church kitchen. But everyone new I've met is too busy with grandchildren or care taking relatives to be a friend. I joined a book club when I retired, but only see the participants (except the ones I already knew) when we meet to discuss our book selections. For a few years I painted with some women and we occasionally went to lunch and art shows.

The worst suggestion on Sue's list is to sign your kid up for one more activity so you, the mother, can have friends. If you're employed, your child is either in day care or school and doesn't need one more reason to be away from home! I think one of the reasons mothers love homeschooling is that it gives them a close knit group of friends all working toward the same goal, all with children about the same age, and living in the same area. People not familiar with homeschooling seem to think those children are isolated, but I see them doing many things together involving all the children in the family.

For many years before the 70s, and in many denominations, women were excluded from the traditional boards and political hierarchies in the church, so they just formed a parallel structure with boards, committees, service projects, separate fund raising, and a lot of chat and fellowship. Some of these structures are disappearing now and the ones that still exist have mostly older women. The mixed gender programming of today's churches may be more equitable and make more efficient use of talent, but women's friendships have suffered.


LadyBugCrossing said...

I totally agree.
It's really easy to meet people when your children are in school. When the children are gone, it's harder.
I have a group of older ladies whoe I love to hang out with - We met in a Newcomer's club. They are just the best, but we are in different stages of our lives.
They found it very hard to get to know new people. Church is one of those place where they thought they would make friends, but found that it was pretty much a couples thing. They have a small group and they enjoy each other's company. That was a long time coming, though.

Norma said...

Our church has a Ladies of the Club group which I think is for mature singles--widowed, divorced, or never married. They have a blast. But I think the ladies Bible studies of 30 years ago (names after flowers) were "integrated," with all ages.