Mommy Speed Dating
I spot her across the room. Not to judge by looks alone but she seems like she'd be compatible. My palms start to sweat a little and I think, "What if I say something stupid? What if she shoots me down? What if she doesn't like my kids? What if I don't like her kids? What if she likes 'chick flicks'?" Oh, great. Now she saw me staring. Now I have to go say "hi" or she'll think I'm a total creeper.
I'm not talking about the single parent dating scene. Trying to find new mommy friends is the anxiety-ridden experience that gives me butterflies here.
I used to make new friends organically, through activities I enjoyed or mutual friends. We already knew we had something in common, like a love of jazz, a penchant for debating politics, or our fondness for volunteering.
Now, I eye new friend prospects at the playground or library, try to guess their kids' ages, and hope for a match. Will she be uncomfortable if I breastfeed the baby? Will she get offended if I do not want the kids to eat junk food? Will she think my house is too messy?
And Suzanne Bastien of Crunchy Green Lovin' Mom agrees, if you stare too long you give off a stalker vibe, especially at the grocery store: "Men ruined that for us; now if you make eye contact with a Mom they think you are hitting on them," she quipped.
Melissa Taylor of Imagination Soup helpfully suggested: "I end up meeting the nicest people in line for the the bathroom. Not that we've ever exchanged phone numbers or anything. It's just something delightful about the bathroom line."
Once I take the plunge and say hello, there is the conversational dance to figure out compatibility. Our local playground is a popular destination for several surrounding villages. So, there's a good change the family I make small talk with is not even in our school district.
And there are the times I sidle up to the nanny or babysitter or young-looking grandma. In other words: not in the market for mommy friends. Too bad there isn't some equivalent of the wedding ring so I know who to approach.
Why does it matter? It didn't when the kids were younger--I had all day for play dates and toddlers and preschoolers of all genders and ages played together (or at least next to each other) well enough. Now that my eldest is in school, however, she wants to play with other girls her age. And, it is easier to have play dates if the kids can just go home with each other on the bus. Since many of the districts let out at different times, coordinating play dates with the friends we have in other districts is already a juggling act. Besides, I want to reinforce and strengthen friendships with the kids my children are in class with during the day.
One of my closest friends here has kids in the same grade and district as mine...but she homeschools and is often already off on adventures with her kids by the time my eldest gets off the bus.
Having grown up as somewhat of an outsider in an insular community, maybe I am more anxious about these things than is healthy. Maybe I'm just being too picky or over-thinking this but it seems like it was easier to find my husband than it is to find mommy friends! Speaking of the hubby, once you find a friend, you have to bring her and her family home and see if the boys get along!
Have you had trouble making mommy friends? What are your tips?