Have you ever noticed that making new mom friends is like dating?
We went to the kindergarten open house at my daughter’s school the other day. I watched as she nervously eyed the other kids with a mix of curiosity and trepidation. I looked around with much the same feelings at the other parents, and I’m sure they did the same. If someone had been posting the inner monologues of the parents, they probably would have gone something like this:
"Hmmm…they look pretty normal and nice. This might be a relationship worth pursuing."
"Hmmm…she looks really put together—way too put together to be normal. We could never be friends."
And sometimes it goes in reverse. You see an adorable, well-behaved kid and wonder, "Who does she belong to? She looks like good playdate material. I’ve got to meet her mom."
If we were in the dating world, this would have been much like a speed-dating event. Everyone was sizing up everyone else. These events in our children’s lives, which also function as parent meet-and-greets, always start out a bit awkwardly. If there is a spark or an attraction at one of these events, one mom will invite the other to meet out at a playground or exchange Facebook information.
This speed-dating meet-and-greet is not to be confused with scouting out new mom friends at places like the playground. Meeting moms there is more akin to scouting out talent at a bar. There is no time-crunch, and everyone is engaged in their own activities. You can assess playground prospects at your leisure—and somewhat stealthily.
If this initial mating stage goes well, you may graduate to the next stage: the playdate. This is more personal. It involves either going to someone else’s home—or welcoming them into yours.
Just as with dating, at the beginning you primp. You clean your house more than you otherwise might. You dress a little nicer than you otherwise might. Heck, you might even shower. I remember one time I clipped the babies’ nails before one such get-together, because I didn’t want my mom date to think I neglected my children.
There are also those little white lies you sometimes tell at the beginning of a relationship. On occasion, I may have been guilty of saying apologetically to my mom date, "Sorry—the house is a disaster today,"—despite the fact that my house was cleaner than it had been in three weeks (okay… months).
If these initial play dates go well, and the chemistry seems like it might be real and lasting, the mom couple takes it to the next level—the holy grail of mom relationships: girls’ night out.
I think we all know that these dates involve alcohol, that nectar that sometimes makes us lose our inhibitions. On a romantic date, this might result in something akin to the song, “Tequila makes her clothes fall off.” On a mom date, it might result in revealing information you might regret when you see your mom date at the grocery store later that week.
“My husband and I haven’t had sex in three months.” Or, “My husband and I have sex almost every night.”
I have heard both phrases at girls’ night out. Whether you have or not, you get the point. You reveal things that in the light of day you might wish you had not.
If you really click with a mom and wind up spending day after day with her and her kids, you might be considered a mom couple. The other moms might whisper and point— but only because they are jealous.
"There go Shelly and Bess again. You know, I just don’t think that relationship is healthy for Bess. She used to hang out with us, and now it’s just ShellyShellyShelly. I think she is losing her own identity. Do you think we should talk to her?"
All joking aside, mom friends are amazing. For those of us who stay at home with our kids, they become—dare I say it—our work spouse. We laugh with them, we cry with them, and we lean on them for the day-in and day-out support we need. We may not have said “Till death do us part,” but when we need help, or our mom friends need help, you can be sure that the answer is always a resounding, “I will.”
Shannon Hembree is a stay-at-home mom for twin toddlers and a kindergartner. She is always on the prowl for the next Mrs. Mom-Friend. She is also the co-founder of www.mamasagainstdrama.com.
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