The two of us met over a year ago as early members of a now huge group of Stay-At-Home-Mothers. We saw each other regularly at play dates. The two of us and our daughters are close in age, and we share similar mindsets and viewpoints. Despite all the similarities on paper, we never actually formed a friendship until about a month ago. This is our story...
After my daughter was born, I quickly realised that I no longer had much in common with my friends and couldn’t do many of the social activities I was used to. It was a pretty lonely time for me. When I got pregnant with my son, I decided enough was enough. It was time to make some “mommy friends.”
So, I searched online and asked around about different groups. It was very frustrating finding a good fit. Just when I was starting to give up, I found one more group to try. I had met the organizer through yet another group that didn’t work out. When I went to the first event, I was happy to meet other moms my age with children around my daughter’s age. Even better, many of the other moms were pregnant, too. I became very active in the group and started getting to know the other mothers. Some became friends and others, well, not so much...
At first we had the awkward first date kind of talk. “How old is your little one?” “Where are you from?” And so on. As time went on, it became more obvious who got along with who better, and we moved on to more relationship-type conversations. Pretty soon we started having the mommy friend equivalent of group dates: in-home play dates by invitation only. By this time, I had pretty much decided that Rachael was too cool for me, but I liked her and wanted her to like me too, so I invited her to the play dates at my place. (I guess that could be considered “friend flirting.”)
To my surprise, she came and actually seemed to have a good time. I started to have the self doubt that is usually associated with dating. She did invite me to her play dates too, though, so I supposed she at least kinda liked me. Problem was, I was pregnant and my prenatal appointments always seemed to fall on the same day she had chosen for her play dates. I was bummed, but couldn’t change my appointments. After my son was born, I was finally able to attend a play date at Rachael’s, but we didn’t get a chance to talk because there was just too much going on.
We had “friended” each other on Facebook by this time, so when I saw a comment she posted about having a rough day, I replied back that I did, too, and we should meet up for a drink. This happened a few times, and then finally I said, “No really, we should.” So we made plans to hang out at her place. It was to be our first “date.” At first we were both a bit reserved, but once we got to talking we found out just how much we have in common. We ended up talking for hours. During our conversation it came out that I thought she was “too cool” for me, and she felt similarly about me. We had a laugh over that and have been good friends since.
I became pregnant with my daughter 3 months after moving from New York back to California. Although I had lived here before, I had no friends in the East Bay, which was a huge adjustment for me after leaving a close group back in NYC.
Here, my closest friends and family were all at least 3 hours away, and that, coupled with my extremely social nature, made for a lonely pregnancy and foray into motherhood. My first friend was made during my pregnancy, but she moved to Wisconsin a month before the Little Meatball was born. Then we moved to Silicon Valley, and I met another mom. We formed a great friendship, but she was only available 2 days a week. I decided I needed to branch out, so I tried a large commercial group, but it felt too “corporate” for my taste. Plus, I was put off by the idea of dues; who wants to pay for people to be friends with them?! After a few false starts (dating parallel, anyone?), I found a group online that was still in it’s infancy. No cliques to infiltrate, all the other moms were new, too, and there might actually be a chance to make a few friends!
Inadvertently, Bethany and I became part of a sub-group of the stay-at-home-moms; four or five early-member moms who got along well, lived in close proximity and whose kids were the same age(s). I felt comfortable enough to add her as a friend on Facebook (that is the first step in sussing out a new boyfriend, right?).
But as much as I liked her, I found her really hard to read. She seemed so even-tempered, reserved and “perfect” (think June Cleaver) that I figured there was no way she would like me. I’m silly, opinionated and, quite frankly, a little “off” (think Lucy Ricardo). Plus, I felt like I was getting mixed signals; she kept inviting me to her house for play dates, but when I would return the invitation, there was always a reason she couldn’t come. Also, she was the only mom in our group that I had never had a one-on-one play date with. My conclusion: She hated me. With that in mind, I pretty much gave up on achieving any kind of actual friendship and decided to settle for the status quo.
A few weeks later, after bemoaning my horrible day, Bethany commiserated and invited me to get a drink. I suspected that, “let’s get together for a drink” must be the Silicon Valley equivalent to “ We’ll do lunch” a.k.a. the ‘L.A. Blow-off,’ so I didn’t really take it seriously. When she mentioned it again in a few days, I figured, what the heck. When she first came over (our first “date”), we were both on our best behavior, tiptoeing around things for a bit, and then came the moment of truth: she thought I hated her, too! Once everything came out in the open, we laughed our butts off and enjoyed the rest of our evening (dating success!). And the rest, as they say, is history.
The moral of the story is: No matter how old you are, you never outgrow insecurities and misconceptions and the need or want to be accepted by your peers. You also never really know anything about anyone unless (or until) you give them, and yourself, the opportunity to get to know each other. So, be brave and put yourself out there!
Up next week on The Mom Squad: Separation Anxiety