I thought I had said goodbye to the dating scene. Farewell to random set ups, drinks after work, coffee at the conveniently-located Starbucks and catching the politically correct date movie of the month. My husband and I had been together for nearly seven years, and I wasn't looking for anything or anyone.
Then we moved to the suburbs and had a baby. My days were soon filled with feeding schedules, diaper changes and mastering the art of bouncy seat assembly. Although I continued to work outside of the house on a part-time basis, I felt isolated when I was home. My husband worked long hours, and I missed the female companionship that I always had in my life.
No one told me that when I left the womb of my life in the city with the women that I had known forever, that I would begin a new chapter in the book of friends -- mom friends, that is. Where would I even find them?
I heard whispers in the aisles of the supermarket and the pediatrician's waiting room. "Take a music class, browse around the bookstore or check out the baby gym." Apparently, there was an entire underground mom scene. I had no idea. They don't tell you at your 20-week ultrasound.
With a little push from my own mother, I signed up for a baby music class at a nearby school when my son was 4 months old. I still remember the carefully-selected outfit I wore for the big day; tan low-rise corduroys, a black turtleneck sweater and velvet ballet flats.
I was overdressed. Most of the moms were in sweats or jeans sitting cross-legged on the floor while they sang to their babies laid out on fleece blankets. Although I learned some catchy if somewhat repetitive tunes, I left the class empty-handed with not one phone number to speak of. Bad date.
Things only got worse after I was stood up at a Border's bookstore by a local group of moms. Apparently, they changed the time at the last minute, but I never got the message.
A family friend took pity on me and set me up with a random young mom who she recently discovered. When I got the call about the set up, I could tell this one was a stretch. "I think you'll hit it off. Her baby is only a week older than yours and she is tall just like you." Really? Is this what it had come to? Dating men was never this hard.
I hit rock bottom when I found myself in an unhealthy relationship with one mom. She picked me up at a time I was feeling vulnerable, and she was intense. I should have known she was a stalker when she asked for my number so quickly and then called right away.
After several rocky months of play dates, lunches and even dinner with our husbands (the mom dating equivalent to meeting your parents), I had to end it. I stopped calling, but she needed closure and confronted me to get it. It was the toughest break up I've ever experienced.
When I finally stopped looking so hard, the mom-dating scene got hot. A bright and smiley woman scoped me out at the summer music class and picked me up after she took a liking to my diaper bag. Although I had been recently burned, I gave her my number. The diaper bag first date was filled with lots of laughs and grew into a great relationship. We still remain close.
It turns out that diaper bag lady shared a summer job at the shore with another women I soon met at a brunch party. Brunch lady and I bonded immediately over our shared experiences living in New York City, our struggles to maintain part-time work schedules and to keep up with old college friends.
Our first few dates took place in low-profile locations as we tried to get to know each other on our own. We rendezvoused at lesser-known, kid-friendly restaurants for lunch. Perhaps our children missed out on the best grilled cheese sandwiches in town, but we each sensed there was a spark and didn't want to mess it up.
I even became involved with an older woman -- someone I had known growing up, and whose friends used to babysit me. When I first heard that she lived around the corner, I wasn't interested. In my mind's eye, she remained the high school girl and I the awkward preteen. After a couple of unplanned run-ins, we started to hit it off. The slight age difference melted away.
The connections I now have to the mom friends are deeper than the simple fact that our children are the same ages. We share meaningful experiences and values. Our conversations go way beyond the scope of the best nursery schools and playgrounds.
It's been nine years since I showed up at the baby music class and the mom-dating landscape has changed -- for me, at least. I don't put myself out there as much anymore. I smile as I see new moms struggle for topics of common interest in the carpool line at school. I seldom get involved.
Occasionally, a seemingly nice mom and I will strike up a conversation at a soccer game or swimming lesson. I am always happy to chat or answer questions, but I rarely ask for a number and can't remember the last time I gave mine out.
I don't seem to be looking for anything anymore. Perhaps I am off the market? For now, at least.
Follow Rachel Levy Lesser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@rachlevylesser