When we first moved to Chattanooga a little more than a year ago, I had an experience I will never forget. I met a group of mommas that are now very near and dear to my heart. In desperation, I reached out to one of them to watch my children while I went to the doctor. Moving here with no support system, I went with my gut, trusting this woman to take very good of my children while I took care of myself. While talking with the doctor, he made a comment that will stick with me forever; “Don’t be surprised if it takes you three years or more to make real friends.” According to my doctor, who is a Midwesterner like I am, Southern hospitality was a very real part of the South and no one was truly your friend in the beginning, but simply meeting the Southern societal norm. My anxiety high, I made it back to my friend’s house crushed by the fear that our new friendship wasn’t real, and that I needed to pick up my children instantly as I was a burden and she was just being hospitable.
I learned then that my doctor was simply full of it.
Upon returning to my friend’s house, she shared the most personal, delightful and shocking news. From that time on, we have been fast friends and I have made many other close friends. I finally found my tribe. I don’t know what the doctor was talking about. From the moment I arrived in Chattanooga, I was met with Southern hospitality. Store clerks greeted us and were so friendly. People smiled and said “Appreciate ya’,” my favorite of the Southern phrases. Life here is simply friendly and pleasant. I also made real lasting friendships. That’s saying something from my point of view. I grew up moving around from small town to small town in the state boasting, “The good life” and had THE HARDEST time making friends. I suffer from social anxiety and what I fondly like to call an over abundance of personality. I can be little much to take in. It took me years to make lasting friendships back home, yet I moved here and made friends within a week.
The trend has continued.
I’ve made friends at the parks and at the library, at McDonald’s and in the store. I have made some good friends, ones on which I feel like my life depends on sometimes. Friends I have laughed and cried with. Friends that have swapped both the high highs and the low lows with me. We all have inside jokes. We all have different ideas, religions, parenting styles, and lifestyles, and we still find respect and love for one another. For the first time in my life, I feel truly supported by individuals who make my life ever so lovely.
Despite my experience, I’m seeing common posts on Facebook mom groups. Mommas new to the area desperate for friends for themselves and their children, reach out on social media and receive a slew of comments. These responses come from Southern women returning the desire to make a connection with the new Southern momma. Transplant mommas, I am here to tell you to follow up on those comments and schedule a play date if you can. Don’t be afraid that you won’t make friends for years.