The elusive mom friend. Every mom wants one, but like a pair of jeans that fit well, a good one is hard to find. Just when you thought you were done with dating, you go and have kids and you find yourself in this position where you need a partner-in-crime that really gets it. Someone that you can have a playdate with, sit back, and talk about how much this whole parenting thing can be THEWORST but also share in the happy “this is so worth it” moments that keep you going. Oh, but that’s my husband/father of my child you just described , you might say. No. I’m talking about someone that doesn’t have selective hearing in the middle of the night or hasn’t been with the kids for 20 minutes and is somehow oblivious to the sagging, stinking diaper that’s dragging on the ground as your kid walks around but you notice immediately upon walking into the room.
Some moms are lucky. They have kids the same age as their existing friends and it simply becomes the next phase of their relationship. Other moms don’t have it quite so easy for various reasons: they live in different cities from their old friends, the friends nearby don’t have kids or their kids are way older, or they’ve simply moved to an area where they know no one.
Sadly, I had friends in different area codes none of which were mine. After moving to New Jersey 5 years ago and knowing ZERO PEOPLE here I had no shame in saying that once I had kids I would pimp them out to make friends. Then AJR came along and it didn’t happen. I made a few feeble efforts. Like the time I stupidly enrolled 6-month old AJR in a music class and spent most of the time sizing up the other couples there. Afterwards I would talk to my husband, who was still reeling (“we paid how much to do a class that he will NEVER remember?”) about the other couples we encountered in the class and whether he thought we made a connection in the few minutes of small talk allowed before the hipsters started strumming their guitars and kids started twerking.
With working, I didn’t have the gaping hole in my heart that could only be filled by a mom friend. Life was busy in a way that’s so different from now and I was selfish with my AJR time. I could text my LDR (long distance relationship) friends and had a few moms from daycare that we would occasionally see and that felt like enough.
Then I decided to stay home after having Olivia and I knew the key to my survival was to make mom friends. But where were the mom friends hiding? And if I found a potential mom friend, what was the protocol for wooing her? I was so hard up for a mom friend that I took to trolling the free train table at Barnes & Noble on a regular basis. Maybe it was the dank, festering cloud of desperation that followed me around but I never saw the same mom twice and they never asked for my name, let alone contact info.
Confidence bruised, desperation mounting, a gift came to me courtesy of my pediatrician and she told me about the best. thing. ever: First Friends. My town has a pre-arranged playgroup called “First Friends” that meets every week and is comprised of kids that will be entering kindergarten the same year. The kids play and the moms chat. It’s brilliant! It’s the equivalent of being set-up on a date with five potential suitors rather than having to seek them out yourself. One of the moms’ husbands has a joke that it’s actually “First MOM Friends” and this couldn’t be more accurate.
I walked in that first day wearing makeup and jeans, so clearly I was trying to impress. After a few playdates, I found myself having – gasp – mom friends! Or at least I had people that were forced to sit in the same room with me for an hour every Monday while our children played together. Regardless, I could take myself off the market and dodge the whole awkward mom friend dating scene. Which was a blessing for many reasons, but mainly because after spending nearly 4 months cooped up in a house with a newborn and 2-year old my social skills were the equivalent of Brick Tamlin’s in Anchorman.
During my single mom friend days I thought long and hard about how I would actually know whether a mom friend was worth the time of day. Because if there’s one thing moms are in short supply of, it’s time. And ain’t nobody got time to sink a few playdates into something that’s going to awkwardly fizzle out because you find out she’s practicing attachment parenting and you’re into leave-me-the-hell-alone-for-five-minutes parenting. Once you get past the “oh wow our kids are the same age, we should hang out!” stage there are a few core things that I need to know about you to determine whether we’re going to make it in this crazy world. So it’s time to stop being polite…and start getting real. Mom friend real.
- Are their kids vaccinated?
- “Yes” – hooray! Thank you for having a brain! You’re off to a good start…
- If they answer “no” and the answer is not because their child has an allergy to vaccines but they strongly believe in it, then run. Run like the wind and do not look back. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. If your kid has started sharing snacks with their kid, knock that cup of goldfish out of their hands making it rain baked cheddar goodness. If your child has given the unvaccinated child anything to play with, abandon that toy. Stop at Toys R Us to replace it. Spend a million dollars on EBay to replace it if there is only one left in existence. Just get the hell out of there.
- What sort of wine do they like to drink?
- You may have found “The One”if when asking, she responds with “Why? Do you have some now?” and it’s only 10am.
- If the mom says she doesn’t drink, then that’s totally fine. Just follow up with “Will you judge if I self-medicate after the kids are asleep with a generous pour?
- Do they refer to their kid as an asshole, The Worst, or jerk when they are acting as such? Bonus points if you’ve done so in the last week!
- I’m not advocating calling your kid an a-hole to their face, but if you’ve never shaken your fist at the baby monitor screaming out an expletive or hissed “you are SUCH an a-hole” through clenched teeth from the other room, our ideals may not be aligned.
- What percentage of the food they buy for their children is organic?
- If it’s higher than 70%, we may have a problem. Not because I judge you for purchasing organic. In fact, I’m jealous. I would love to have a grocery budget that allowed me to throw everything on the shelves at Whole Foods into my cart Supermarket Sweep-style. The real reason is that on these playdates I am going to bust out my non-organic snacks. And your kid is going to want those snacks because every kid finds the snack of another kid much more alluring than the one his mom has in her bag. The first few times you’ll say you don’t care because hey, you want to seem cool and not let on that you’re secretly squirming inside at all the Yellow #5 your kid has consumed in 60 seconds. But then the resentment will slowly build until one day you scream “WHY CAN’T YOU BUY ANNIE’S CHEDDAR BUNNIES INSTEAD OF CHEEZ-ITS?” You will calmly explain that you purchased the whole grain Cheez-Its, which is pretty much the same thing but the damage is done.
- Do they stop referring to their child’s age in months once they turn 2?
- There is only one way to answer this. And it is “yes”. I don’t want to hear about your 32-month old. I want you to stop talking so I can exit this conversation.
- How would they respond if you were to text them “I just can’t with AJR today. He is refusing his nap. AGAIN.” (FYI, this is the PG version of what that text would be). Example responses & outcomes:
- Her response: “Remember to have patience. They’re only this little once. Have you tried rocking him?” Survey says: NO FRIENDSHIP FOR YOU!
- Her response: “That sucks. He’s the worst. Have you tried Whisky? For both of you.” Why hello there, new friend!
- When you come over for a playdate and they say “oh I’m so sorry. My house is a complete mess!” is their house:
- Actually a hot mess. Great. Then let me tell you how I have to fish dustballs and fuzzies out of my daughter’s mouth on the regular and then we’ll laugh about this “finding time to clean” myth we’ve heard so much about.
- Absolutely pristine to the point where my children could eat off your floors. My children also eat off my floors – if something drops and they’re quicker to it than I am or I sort of don’t really care because, hey, they’re eating something, right? I have ZERO problem with moms that keep a clean house. I am amazed at your cleaning prowess and time management skills. My issue is the BS. If it’s clean, then own it. Don’t be fake about it. And even if you don’t use a cleaning lady, tell me you do anyway so I feel less guilty for my Hoarders: Playskool Edition clutterfest.
- How will you react when my toddler inevitably does something to make your child cry?
- Shoot me a “we don’t tolerate this sort of behavior in OUR house” look as you console your sobbing child and mutter about how he/she will never truly recover from this – FRIENDSHIP DENIED. I’M SORT OF GLAD HE PUSHED YOUR KID (not really…)
- Shrug. Tell me it’s fine, all kids do it (although maybe you should care because my kid is sort of a psycho..) – YOU GET AN APOLOGY AND MY UNDYING LOVE AND ADMIRATION
- And while it’s not a requirement, any mention of Bravo and their Emmy-worthy programming would give me serious mom friend wood and endear me to you forever.
I’m not asking for much. All I really need is a mom friend that genuinely wont judge me for doing what I gotta do to get to bedtime. Like constantly rolling with a bag of fruit snacks in my purse. Or giving AJR the iPad because the kitchen has finally gone beyond my limits of what dirty is and I need to clean it ASAP. Open minds and full wine glasses: these are the people I want in my mom tribe, and near and far, I have them. Thank goodness.