Did you have trouble making mom friends? For a while, I thought it was just me, that I was the only mom on the whole planet who couldn't make friends. Eventually, shortly after the arrival of our second son, I had found a few friends, mostly by accident. If I had seen this video when I was feeling alone in my mom-friend-less-ness, I might have felt less self-conscious.
I think I've had variations of that conversation too many times to count. In fact, it's why I stopped going to a local playgroup and, eventually, the library's story time. It's also why I don't talk to other moms at the playground, which then leads us back to the issue of not being able to find new mom friends. But man, I've been burned before, and if I've learned anything from being married to a firefighter it's to leave fire alone.
Some lines in this video slayed me. "Your poor children." I may not have ever heard those specific words, but I know the look that accompanies the thought. "I think a baby seal just died." I was never crunchy enough for some groups, too crunchy for others. Example: I may have used cloth diapers, but I use bleach to clean on occasion. Whoever this writer is? Genius. And/or has been there, done that, just like the rest of us. See? We're not as alone as we think we are.
I may have laughed out loud at this video, but there was a time when I felt very alone without another local mom-friend to tell me that, yes, breastfeeding is hard and, no, you don't have to have a spotless house.
Other bloggers have lamented the playgroup-mom-friend issue.
Cassandra at Blue Milk watched the video recently and it brought up memories of an anti-playgroup post she wrote earlier this year. The title of that post, Fucking playgroup, kind of speaks for itself.
The endless conversations about teething, for one. (I know it is an all-consuming job this mothering of small children thing and I know there are few places where we can off-load, but honestly, we can’t come up for air occasionally and discuss something more interesting?) The competitiveness over toddler milestones. The incessant comparing of baby sleep patterns. (OK, I was a little obsessed when I was a first-time mother, but now I am over it and expect all of you to be too). The teeth-gritted politeness while adjudicating squabbles between toddlers. The constant reduction of our children to ridiculous gender stereotypes. The complete failure to have a good sense of humour. And perhaps worst of all this stifling sense of fear in the air, which ranges all the way from a fear of germs to a fear of being different.
A guest post at Three Bean Salad followed mom Kristen through her attempts at finding new mom friends after a move to a new city. She poses a good question.
As my daughter donned the headphones, I smiled at the woman standing next to me who had a headphone clad child sitting in front of her as well. The woman did smile back but then proceeded to click away on her blackberry – she did not look up once in the time that the children were on the computers – maybe 20 minutes. In the age of technology, how am I supposed to make new friends? Maybe I can get someone’s number and text them while we stand right next to each other?!
Kali at Evidently... talked about the difference between friends with kids and friends because of kids as well as trying to present her whole self to people who have no idea what she was like BC... before children.
But for the folks who met me just a year ago on, trying to explain who I was before baby is like trying to explain a dream. It has little/no relevance to this reality and the more detail I recount, the less sense I make. So the desire of representing myself as a complete person, sidelines when I so easily fall into conversations about nap schedules, solid food feeding and baby travel advice. That's what we tend to talk about. And why not? It's the focus of our lives right now. The complete and utter focus. But I digress.
A post by Alexandra at the Mom Renewal Project almost makes me want to restart the playgroup scene just to be there for a new mom who might be struggling, deeply, with loneliness and other muck of new motherhood. Almost.
Did I make friends at every group I belonged to? No. But, I did connect with 3 women, from 3 different mornings, whom I remember fondly to this day. This was 16 years ago, and we have since fallen out of touch. But I remember Anne, Carrie, and Lara. They were part of the fabric I was then weaving in my new life as a stay at home mother. They were the essential threads holding the tapestry together for me.
This video and the others in the appropriately named Mompetition series bring up lots of good discussion topics. This one, however, was my favorite. If you were making a video about what's on your parenting plate right now, what would it say? (As an aside, you can make your own videos like this one at Xtranormal. If you do make one, share it with us.) What advice would you give to new moms or moms struggling to make friends in a new city?
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