Once upon a time, my husband invited a law school friend and his family to our house for dinner. They’d recently reconnected and he thought it’d be nice for our daughters to make friends with his kids, and for the wives to chit chat. I was game.
So we broke out the nice dishes, prepared a tasty summer meal and opened our door to an otherwise unfamiliar clan with the hopes of beginning a new friendship. And all went well. The kids played together, we chatted easily and shared parenting woes and when it was time to go home, the kids didn’t want to part ways. We took that as a good sign.
That was nearly two years ago – and we haven’t seen them since. While my husband has networked with his buddy (dare I call him that?) and he mentioned that his family had a good time at our home, they have never reciprocated, nor hinted at an invitation to their home. Granted, they live in an apartment in Manhattan, so space is tight. But how about springing for a pizza and asking us to join them out?
This isn’t the first time I’ve been snubbed, and I have to admit, I’m starting to develop a bit of a complex. Did we not offer them something to drink? Did my daughters not share their Calico Critters or – worse yet – did they pull a toy out of their kids’ hands? As far as I could tell, we were gracious hosts, and considering the dinner plates had nary a crumb and wine glasses were left dry, I’d even venture to say the meal we prepared wasn’t half-bad.
So what gives?
When it comes to socializing these days, I’m beginning to notice a pattern: Not many moms seem interested in making friendships beyond one get-together. Sometimes I blame Facebook for making it too easy to sit behind a screen and count that as friendship. But in my opinion, virtual mom friendships will never be a substitute for the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from sharing a laugh over a tutu-clad little boy or commiserating over sleepless nights with a newborn.
It’s not that I don’t have friends – I have regular outings with a girlfriend who doesn’t have kids – it’s that I don’t have mom friends, at least not close by. The friends of mine that do have kids live in other states, so we have to rely on sporadic phone calls or Facbeook updates to catch up. But it’s not enough just to catch up, especially when you’re dealing with the ups and downs of parenthood. I want a mom friendship that lasts beyond a one-time get-together. Is that too much to ask?
Friends and family that became moms before me (and have established mom friendships of their own) have offered me their own words of wisdom: “You have to put yourself out there,” said one who admitted that it wasn’t easy for her to connect with other moms either. “There are a lot of duds out there, but eventually you’ll find someone and you’ll just click,” offered another. Yeah, right. Sometimes, I think I’d have better luck clicking my heels three times and finding my way back to Kansas than trying to navigate this crazy world of mommy-made friendships.
Why is it that trying to forge a relationship with another mom is so much more difficult than a friendship that’s not exclusively tied to parenting? Perhaps it’s the pressure of that unspoken bond we mothers share: You’ve both gone through the excruciating, yet exhilarating experience of childbirth, so voila! Instant connection:right?
Not so much. Just because you can discuss your epidural with someone doesn’t mean she shares your love of art-house movies or that she would never let her kid outside on a summer day without sunscreen.
In search of a likeminded, SPF-focused mother, I wasn’t surprised when I was naturally drawn to a fellow bespectacled woman at a Mommy and Me event last winter. At first glance, I noticed her no-name jeans and strands of gray escaping from her dark brown ponytail as she shook her sillies out with gusto. She reminds me of:me, I mused.
I decided to strike up a conversation with her and quickly learned that our daughters’ birthdays were merely days apart. We talked shop about our girls: how different they were from their older, less moody sisters (another mom with two girls – score!). And oh, how they never seemed to sit still. Wasn’t second-time motherhood supposed to be easier, we lamented.
Before parting ways, we exchanged numbers and e-mail addresses, promising to get together for a play date outside of class. “Maybe after the holidays are over, you could come over:or something?” I stammered, for fear of coming off as too forward. Because it was our last class before winter break, I thought I should make the first move – and then a sense of dread kicked in. I should have gotten up the nerve sooner, I chastised myself. But she just smiled and said that sounded like a good plan and wished me a Merry Christmas.
I never saw – or heard – from her again.
You may be wondering if I ever attempted to contact this woman, but I must admit that I felt torn. Why does it always have to be me, I wondered? I was tired of being the one to initiate plans. Hadn’t I suggested coming over in the first place? Hadn’t I broken out the pen and paper to scratch down her number? Any more work on my part, and I might as well take out a personal ad on Craigslist.
Fast forward to the present when I decided to reach out to the mom of one of my daughter’s preschool friends. Ever a glutton for punishment, I invited them over for a morning play date and she accepted. The girls happily played kitchen while she and I talked about the best place in town for Chinese takeout. We reminisced about our past lives as professionals who’d commuted to the city and eventually came to find happiness in suburbia.
At last I thought, as I closed the door behind them. It was a match made in mommy-friend heaven:or so I thought.
Two months later, and no phone call. What happened? Were the Goldfish stale? Did I talk too much? I’m truly scratching my head over this one.
We’ve seen each other in passing and, oddly enough, at the very Chinese restaurant we’d discussed, but never reconnected.
I haven’t lost hope, though. I’m bound to make a new mom friend and prove my likeability to my daughters one of these days. I want them to realize that even mommies make new friends. As my own mother – or was it Frank Sinatra – once said, you’ve got to pick yourself, dust yourself off and start all over again. And so I will.
Wanna come over for a play date?