The person who said it gets harder to make friends as you get older didn't have a child in her late 30s.
Because for me, becoming a mother at age 36 in D.C. has brought waves and waves of friends into my life, some becoming playful ripples, others deep eddies. They are diverse mom friends from all over the world and from all walks of life. They are single, coupled, working full-time, stay-at-home, or a mixture of both. There's holistic health care mom, public relations mom, architect/developer mom, Russian artist mom, vegan baker mom, marathon runner mom, badass Armenian mom who can assemble a gun blindfolded. All bring something different to the table.
Expanding my number of cocktail invitations wasn't the reason for having a child, but it hasn't hurt.
That said. I am not consumed by my own womb. Or talk as if I invented childbirth. Because that mom is really annoying. I remind myself often that my mother, who laughs at the "harms" of "crying it out," raised seven children who all went to public schools, ate Hostess snack cakes and never once had a "play date," words that I love as much separately as I hate together.
So when a fellow teacher/writer/blogger mom, a new friend, asks me to join her for the book signing of Baltimore mommy blogger Jill Smokler's Confessions of a Scary Mommy at the Barnes and Noble in Bethesda, I hesitate.
Mostly because that means leaving the rooftop terrace of one of D.C.'s most historic and glamorous Art Deco apartment buildings where I'm enjoying happy hour with my aerialist mom friend with whom I talk theater, wear cute heels and ogle original 1920s decor. And while our kids are playing nearby, we are still sipping wine on a gorgeous rooftop trying to ignore them.
Pretty helps, we like to say. And moms need pretty.
But more importantly the book signing sounds very... mom-y. Accompanying a mom to listen to a mommy blogger talk about being a mom with a bunch of other moms. We'll pretty much be breathing our own fumes. Not quite a Hallmark sentiment as Mother's Day approaches, I realize, though perhaps it should be. Because I'd totally buy that card.
But I go. I trust the taste of my new friend Amy Issadore Bloom because her blog Bloomindc is well written and is not a mom blog. And she promises that Jill is not your average mom blogger. I don't need to be exposed to a mom blog that features a perfectly packed school lunch with all major food groups represented, making my Ziploc bag of slightly crushed crackers, beef jerky stick and drink box with a straw duct taped to the side look even more questionable. And I really don't need to see the first day of school depicted with smiling, perfectly coiffed children climbing onto a school bus when I'm pulling a reluctant child down the sidewalk to our car parked five blocks away while simultaneously rubbing the Sharpie tattoo he gave himself the night before off his forehead.
You know. Make me feel good about my day.
And with her writing, Scary Mommy Jill does. She makes all the crazy seem normal. As she reads excerpts from her new book, I find it hard not to like her. She's really funny and has the mouth of a juvenile delinquent freely dropping the F-bomb, which oddly enough, makes me trust her. Because what mother in her right mind doesn't need that aerial attack every once in awhile. Plus, she generously shares the platform on her very popular blog with other moms and created a Scary Mommy Society that last year paid for the Thanksgiving dinners of nearly 700 families.
And she doesn't pretend to be anyone she's not.
"I don't find the term 'mommy blogger' offensive at all," she asserts. "If you think of a mommy blogger as someone who posts cute pictures and perfect little stories... then I don't fit that mold. But that's not what I think a mommy blogger is. I primarily write about my kids. They got me into this. I wouldn't have started a blog or written a book if not for (my) kids."
In fact, her high school English teacher told her to stop writing because she was no good. (In the first draft of her book she penned a special F.U. dedication to him. But then took it out. Some messages need to be delivered in person.) With the success of her first book and legions of mothers following her blog, Jill is in the sweet spot while still being grounded and realistic.
"It's hard work," Jill says. "People think this book came about suddenly (and) that I'm an instant success story. But there's a lot of work behind (this book.) There were years when I didn't make anything from my writing. Plus I don't sleep anymore. It's a lot of work. And I don't consider myself an author," she explains as we sit at a table in the bookstore cafe noshing on chocolate and sea salt coated almonds, a gift my friend Amy brought for me but one we quickly share. "I just write how I speak."
Which is funny. And moms need funny.
Which brings up another mom event. Kate Covney Hood, a local mom who blogs at The Big Piece of Cake and who joins our discussion of mothers blogging, is co-producing, Listen to Your Mother. On May 6, D.C. area mothers will take the stage at Synetic Theater in Crystal City to share stories of motherhood -- the funny, the sad, the good, bad and ugly. Started in 2010, the Listen to Your Mother show is held in several cities but this is the first year it's being held in D.C. The New York City and Chicago events have already sold out.
After hearing almost 50 auditions for the show, Kate says this event offers mothers the opportunity to tell their story, as well as to bear witness to others. Both, she feels, are "incredibly powerful and empowering."
"Story telling has always brought people together," she adds. "It inspires us to make connections and shift our focus to community."
To laugh at our mistakes. To connect with others. And to get out of our own heads. Everyone, not just moms, needs a little of that.
Follow Jody Melto on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JodyMelto