by Shadra Bruce

I grew up for the most part in Boise, Idaho. Not the biggest city in the world, but big enough that there was always plenty to do, and plenty of people I knew. Most importantly, it was where my mom and my sister lived, which meant I had a built in support system and social group that fulfilled me.

When we moved to Bath, New York in 2001, I was a stay-at-home mom with three school age kids and an 18-month old. Dave worked, the kids left for school, and Parker and I spent the days together. There’s only so much of Barney and Dora a person can take, though. I knew only my mother-in-law and my husband’s best friend’s wife (who today is as close to me as family). I was lonely, though, and desperately missed my friends and family out West.

Making new friends was really tough. I mean, how do you make friends when you only leave the house to go grocery shopping? The person I talked to most was the checker at Wal-Mart in line number 5 who was always working when I was there. Pathetic, I know.

Then, Kira got interested in cheerleading. I started taking her to practices on Monday nights and met the other moms who were there. Before long, I’d made a few new friends. When we moved back West to care for my mom while she was ill, we were only gone for a few years, but everything had changed in that time. I was closer than ever to my husband’s best friend’s wife, and we bought the house across the street from theirs, but the other friends I’d made had moved, divorced, disappeared…and Kira was grown and doing her own thing.

Then last year, Anika started taking dance classes. Every Monday night, she gets dolled up in her ballerina outfit and can hardly wait to head out the door to dance class. The truth is, I look forward to it as much as she does, if not more. Monday nights are MY nights. Anika heads into the dance studio for her practice, and I sit in the lobby and visit with my new group of friends.

I’m not a stay-at-home mom with a baby anymore. Now, I’m a work-at-home mom with no kids at home. I find myself talking to the birds – or to myself – because a lot of the work I do is quite solitary. So Monday nights are my solace, my escape, my night out. I worry that the moms I meet up with those nights are just bracing themselves for me because I save up a whole week of girl talk for that one night, but it is wonderful.

I spend far too much time far away from the people who mean the most to me, and while Facebook and texting and email allows us to stay in touch, I miss face time – sitting across from the women in my life and talking. Women need friends, and we need to cherish them and treasure them and make time for them.