Mom friend and breakup stories are everywhere these days, and to add to the list is an interesting essay on Babble from a few weeks ago "Why is making friends with other moms so hard?"
On my son's first day of kindergarten, there was an element of who will I sit with at lunch mentality. This anxiety was not coming from my son. Instead, it was coming from me. Moms seemed to be corralled in groups which I couldn't decipher how to gain entry. When I finally got up the courage to talk to someone she was off the next moment chatting with someone else. Soon enough, I began talking to a handful of women, but more often than not, the relationships really didn't get too far.
I experienced the same situation when my daughter, Elke, 2, was in a mommy and me class. A woman who swore that her son talked about Elke "all the time" stood me up on a play date. I invited her over, she said yes, but she didn't show. The next week in class, I asked her what happened. She said she "got caught up with life" and she was sorry she didn't call.
After talking to a few other "old" friends, I realized that this pattern wasn't just about me. Other women complained of being stood up or rejected by a mom friend they thought they had made a connection with. After speaking to another mother a few times at a Music Together class my sister-in-law, a mother of two boys, invited the mother and her children over for play dates. "We talked a lot," my SIL said. "I really thought we connected and the kids liked each other." But the mother declined, my SIL said, for one reason or another.
Soon Melissa heard the same woman in the music class inviting another mom and her children over for a play date. "I guess she liked the other woman better," Melissa said. "I tried not to be hurt. I didn't want it to feel like high school. But it did make me question myself. Was it me? Was it my kids?" Now we refer to this person by nickname only: She is the mom who slighted Melissa.
Motherhood is a lonely gig. This is the real issue, isn't it? We often read the wrong signals or make concessions to befriend someone we wouldn't otherwise for the sake of company. I adore my children. But who wants to play in the sandbox alone all day with a 2-year-old? (If you say that spending every waking moment with your child is the MOST FULFILLING day of your life, then I can tell you right now you are reading the wrong blog.) In desperate attempts to hang out with other adults, I tried to make friends with people that weren't exactly love connections. Why? We need each other. We need adult interaction.
It took a few years and a lot of talking to old friends to realize that it takes time -- and selectivity -- to find new friends. In fact, using the word friend is probably the first problem. Friendship takes time, years to establish. With that reminder, I've learned to take the mom slight much less personally. If a mom acquaintance blows me off, then I'll call up someone else I know -- someone who is a friend.
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