Tejal Toprani, LCSW
Mom friends? Who friends? What are those? Are mom friends just people you end up standing next to at the park while your kids play?
True to my assertive (aggressive?) personality, I’ve approached moms in public places who look seemingly normal and have kids about the same age as mine and asked for their number to schedule a play date. This however, has never happened to me.
I also tend to forget why I have someone’s number. Especially, when I look at my phone later and it says “red sweater woman at park son likes trucks.”
Much has been written about the topic of mom friends – but I have one question: Do the moms who need friends even have time to read about the importance of mom friends?
I practice the philosophy that friends – both mom friends and other friends – is a numbers game. This comes from all the moving I’ve done over the last decade.
I was born and raised in Southern California. The house we lived in when I was born is the same house my parents live in now. I went to college 40 minutes away from home and came home most weekends. My point is that I never needed to try hard to make friends growing up because the people I was exposed to and became friends with were in some way always around. But my, how the mighty have fallen….
In the last 15 years I’ve moved to four different states. This makes finding friends and keeping friends challenging, and as a result I collect numbers like people collect stamps. (Do people still collect stamps?) This has led to many interesting friend dates. I once had a 45-minute dinner with a woman I met in a Bollywood Facebook group. She started off dinner by interviewing me like I was on 20/20. If the dinner could have been cut off then I would have ended it but the restaurant made a great veggie burger and I was hungry. This sort of adventure makes for great dinnertime conversation with actual friends – my FEW actual friends.
Along the great friend making odyssey I’ve misjudged people, thinking they were good friends and been disappointed. I often vet a person as a potential friend and THEN I have to assess whether their children will get along – or at least play – with my children long enough for us to have an adult conversation.
The third piece of the mom friend puzzle is the holy grail trifecta: will the spouses get along? If all three align then you’re really lucky and you may actually have found a potential friend! But it’s like a snowflake – you have to handle it lightly if you want it to last. You don’t want to come off too aggressive or needy. In one instance I had three one-on-one interactions with a potential mom friend, and then I crossed over to step 2 by bringing the children into the picture and that went well. Then – imagine this – the spouses got along well too. It helped that they both liked beer and sports (who doesn’t?). And then, after all that cultivation, I was ghosted. I don’t know why. Honestly, the whole game of it can be very disheartening – – – but it’s important to get back on the horse. Because, there can be success too. After becoming a mother four years ago, the nurse educator at the hospital where I delivered and where my spouse worked “set me up” with another woman who had become a mother three weeks before me. The nurse educator’s basis for setting us up was our mutual “dark hair” and a hunch. Boy, was she right because we’re still very close friends today.
Ultimately, I’ve had some success in creating a social circle and some semblance of a tribe. And the key to that success is having amnesia. I have to forget the bad experiences and let the good ones keep me motivated. And It’s been easier to reach out to a potential friend for a lunch/play date if I forget that I’ve already texted three other people and they haven’t responded. When they do respond I find myself pleasantly surprised like “wow you managed to peel yourself away from your faux desk job to write me back.” Hmmm, I sound mad. Reaching out to five different people or twice to the same person is where the dejected feelings set in. But again, I remind myself, I must move forward with this quest.
The goal is to find like-minded people – or people who are like-minded enough to be friends with so that you don’t feel so alone as a mom. But finding those like-minded people means casting a Moby Dick sized net, and weeding out some of the fish that get into the net but just don’t seem right. It’s important to keep taking a chance because we all know that motherhood can quickly cross the line from just feeling a bit difficult into isolation and loneliness. After five hours with an infant and a two-year-old, it can be life saving to have a friend to call or a place to go with the kids where you can just hang out. And a little amnesia along the way doesn’t hurt.
Good luck out there ladies!