Confessions of a Mommy Pickup Artist
It’s summer, the nice weather is here, and I’m trying to get my kids out of house to do pretty much anything that will keep them busy and not fighting. Whether we’re at the park, the pool, the splash pad, or the play date, I often end up mixing supervising my children with what basically amounts to hitting on the other mothers. I start by scoping out which moms seem to be attached to kids who are about the same age as mine. Once I’ve identified my target, I *casually* position myself in proximity to her (it’s not hard to switch up locations while chasing a toddler) and then begin to look for an “in” to start a conversation. My ultra-smooth opening lines usually consist of something like, “How old is your little one?” or “Those are adorable shoes she is wearing.”
I promise it’s not ACTUALLY as creepy as it sounds, at least I hope not. It’s not like I’m going all Joey Tribbiani on everyone like, “How YOU doin’?” And honestly, there are days that I just want to go to the park and veg out on the bench in the shade, alone with my very own thoughts (which never actually ends up happening, by the way. I usually end up standing around pushing the swings, which are of course ALWAYS in full sun. Never fails). But more often than not, I do actively try to connect with at least one other mom wherever we go, with the end game in mind of perhaps getting those digits to arrange a sweet play date in the next week or so.
Of course, I tell myself that I’m doing it for the kids. They are 4 and 2 right now and connecting with other moms opens up friendship possibilities for them. But the reality is that I’m mostly doing it for myself. There is something sacred and life-giving about connecting with other moms. Momming is HARD, much harder than I ever thought it would be. Small things can feel so HUGE and the daily grind can leave me feeling defeated. Even something as simple as a shared laugh over how hard it was to get to the danged park in the first place that morning or a nod of solidarity over the lack of sleep the night before reminds me that I’m not the only mom to ever face this stuff and chances are pretty good it will eventually pass and we will all come out alive.
As wonderful as all of that sounds and as important as I believe it is, it’s not always easy for me. Putting one’s self out there, whether in dating or friendship-seeking, can be scary and vulnerable. If one has experienced social rejection in one’s past (some day I will tell you aaaaaall about middle school. And sorority rush. And why I just skipped my high school reunion), it can activate all of those fears and negative things (LIES! LIES, I TELL YOU!) that we have come to believe about ourselves because of our experiences. Not everyone I meet is going to want to be my BFF or even TALK to me- as a matter of fact, most are not. And rejections can activate my insecurities, I can end up feeling like I’m back in my dorm room, hearing which sororities were not asking me back.
But one thing adult me realizes that younger me did not is that there are a million reasons why that other mom might not have wanted to talk to me and “I am not worthy of friendship and I will never ever have a Mommy Tribe” is NOT among them. Sometimes other people are having a bad day. Or maybe she has her own social issues, social anxiety is a real thing and maybe she is facing down those demons. Or maybe I just plain didn’t seem like her cup of tea. Can you imagine what it would be like if every single one of us clicked with every single other one of us? Then the connections that work wouldn’t be as precious and life-giving as they are. I won’t click with everyone, and it’s better that way.
Making friends as an adult can be really hard and scary, but it sure as heck won’t happen if we don’t try. Meeting Mommy Tribeswomen is a lot like looking for The One when we are dating, sometimes the right person walks into our life at the right moment and it all falls into place, but a lot of times we just need to put in the work of getting to know the folks around us before the right people reveal themselves to us. And even though I’m fighting back against some pretty deep-seated insecurities, the more that I remind myself that friendship is worth working for and that I am worthy of it, the more it starts to sink in that it’s TRUE! The more I tell the negative voices in my head that they can just go ahead and have a seat, the more they stop trying to stand up and sound off in the first place. Even in spite of the inevitable misses that happen, when I don’t connect with someone like I had hoped, just doing the work makes me feel brave and confident and like my insecurities are not the boss of me. And when I DO make a connection the payoff is HUGE, for me and for my kids.
So be brave, Fellow Mommies. You are worthy of friendship and so are those other mommies. Mom Friendships are life-giving, sanity-sustaining, and the one or two that stick will be worth the work. And if you’re worried about being awkward- well, I’m here to tell you that it’s inevitable, the awkward WILL happen- but you have the ASSURANCE that somewhere in Oregon, your girl here is having those same awkward moments. It’s a badge of honor, proof that we are doing hard work. And if you’re willing to do it, to bravely seek connection, dig down deep to find your light to share with other moms, no matter how each of those individual interactions turns out, you will ALWAYS have a Tribeswoman in me.