Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nebraska Panhandle Moms

Hey all, just doing my part to spread the news about a new online Nebraska (panhandle) moms' discussion group. Although they're still working out the bugs on the board, I'm thrilled that there's something started. It's community owned and operated and even has a brand new URL to make it easy to remember. To join, just go to and register (or if you forgot your username or password, the system can email it to you). If you're new there, be sure to tell 'em I sent ya!

Why advertise a local discussion board? 'Cause I think it's a really good thing. A little history about me:

When I moved to Chadron I was seriously lost. During that first long, dark winter, I was so bored out of my mind. I missed real malls (HUGE ones where you could get lost in a matter of minutes), museums (with all sorts of activities for children), a large selection of libraries (with many weekly children's events and visiting authors), amusement parks, constant playgroups, theaters (which always had a few children's movies playing and specials on Monday or Wednesday afternoons), indoor play places (like children's gyms), indoor ice or roller skating rinks, zoos, IMAX, etc. We came from an area bursting with culture and seriously wondered what in the world people did here for daily family fun.

Aside from being bored, I was also really lonely. VERY. Once I heard about it, I joined the local MOPS group in hopes of getting to know other moms. Yet, that was only two mornings of each month. I went to Walmart almost daily just to get out of the house and although Rapid City didn't closely resemble anything "city like," we drove there every single week (in the middle of the week basically for Starbucks and a little window shopping) where we would strike up conversations with other families. I initially had a mom or two (who had lived here most of their lives) explain to me that it was hard to break into the "clicks" here because most everyone had known each other most of their lives and didn't feel the need to make new friendships. I hoped with my whole heart that this wasn't true. My social butterfly persona felt completely trapped and I worked diligently to make friends with everyone I met even if it meant spreading myself too thin (which many of you know is one of my greatest downfalls). Thankfully I discovered this wasn't true of everyone.

Now, if you read my post last July about Small Town Nebraska, then you know that I now see things differently. I can appreciate the small town experiences and I can understand why some people feel their kids are safer here than they would be in a big city. But I also can understand the absolute culture shock that most families experience when they move here and strive to find their footing among the locals. It's work, initially. But it's really, really worth it. The Nebraska Panhandle has a lot to offer new families if they know where to look. walks a local online discussion group. I'm hopeful that eventually--even if it takes years--this new online discussion group will allow some growth and bonding among all moms in the coming years. There have been a handful of brand new moms join the board who are still learning about their new surroundings. This has opportunity written all over it. I desperately hope I'm not the only one who feels that way.

If you've lived in the Panhandle for a while (or anywhere, I suppose), I hope you'll reach out to both new and old moms. Lend a hand of friendship and support even if it doesn't appear necessary. Remind newcomers to your community about things like Moonlight Madness, great family restaurants, or the best places to stand during the next parade. If you know of an upcoming family event or have a playgroup going, let people know. Share an interesting news article, a funny joke, or ask open-ended questions that allow others to think out loud among friends. It's a very small commitment, but can make such a great impact.

Right now there are only about 30 moms on the Panhandle Moms board. Hopefully, by Fall of 2009 it will have grown a bit and have some active and dedicated contributors. I hope to see y'all there! And bring a friend or two!!!!

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