Seven years ago, I passed a mom a note that said: “Will you be my friend? Circle yes, no, or maybe.” Not really. But my palms were as sweaty as a middle schooler’s passing a note folded with origami perfection to her latest crush. But the stakes were so much higher this time. If she rejected me, she rejected my son–my perfect, new boy. If she said thanks but no thanks, she probably thought I was a bad mother or a needy mother or an (insert adjective here) mother. If she circled maybe, it meant I still had to prove myself to her, and I was just too tired to prove anything. I regretted asking her to be my friend the second the stupid words tumbled out of my mouth. But then she said, “yes.” YES!
We had our first lunch date with our little ones in tow. They were tiny and sleepy in their carriers. We all hit it off.
I had a person. A like-minded comrade. Chemistry.
When lunch ended, we went our separate ways.
What next? What were the rules of this game? Would she call? Should I? Was this exclusive?
There aren’t any guidebooks for making mom-friends, but thankfully we figured it out. In case you haven’t, here are some tips…
1. Use the Children. You spotted her at the playground, and you can’t stop thinking about about the way she handled her toddler’s tantrum. You’re swooning over her packed lunch in non-BPA nesting bowls. Her baby wrap was flawlessly tied. Does she feel the same way about you? Throw your child into the sandbox with her little one to find out. Now causally make mom talk. “Isn’t she adorable?” Before your love interest leaves, tell her how much your little one adores her cherub. Reel her in. And boom. It begins.
2. Practice Momogamy (at first). There is nothing more awkward than being the third wheel at a party of inside jokes. Try one-on-one play-dates until the two of you are comfortable adding another and another and another. Before you know it, you’ll be calling yourselves a book club and serving wine.
3. Be Exhibitionists. Play in public. For conversation starters there will be plenty of other moms and their children to mock. No. Do not do that. If that sounded like a good idea, this isn’t going to work. Find a public place on neutral territory. The last thing you want is to hit it off with your mom crush only to have the kids marking their territory (with urine or saliva) and asserting ownership “That’s mine!” “No! Mine!” on every surface including each other.
Related post: 10 Tips on How to be a Good Friend
4. Don’t ask her about that stain. By stain I mean any stain on her person or in her home (if you made it that far). No good will come of calling attention to the baby mucus on her pocket. And if the stain is in her home, you may as well call her an unfit mother and slam the door on your way out. Don’t do it if you want another date, and you do. You want another date. These dates preserve your sanity!
5. Don’t hit her up to babysit. You’re not in the market for a caretaker here, you’re looking for a friend. A surefire way to sink this ship is to ask this mother to take care of your children. She’s got enough going on with her own. Did you notice those stains?!
6. Split before dinner. If dinnertime at your house always runs smoothly, please don’t tell me or anyone else. Your potential mom friend may not be so lucky. Scratch that, if she lives in the world of toddlers, she’s not. It’s nothing short of herding feral cats when the dinner plates touch the table. Get out before she has to explain herself.
7. Make a move. Call! You’re knee deep in laundry. The kids have been crying all day. You’ve got a mortgage payment of late fees for the library. You’re hungry. Your son scored a touchdown. Your daughter is forward-facing now. Call. A person who relates to this, all of this, is what you’re looking for. Call.
8. Use your words. Big into attachment parenting? Trying the Cry it Out Method? Vegetarian? Avoid citing the latest research or any research, really. It’s not a job interview. And while we all understand there’s an impulse to show you still have at least two functioning brain cells, save the MLA citations for another time. Use your own words.
9. Leave the Exes at the door. It’s probably not the time to hate on your previous mom fails. Unload on the hubs until this friendship takes root.
Related post: The Rules for Visiting a New Mom
10. Know when to cut and run. Ladies, not every relationship is meant to be. The beauty of having children is that you have a built-in excuse. It’s always nap time somewhere. Is that a hive on your child’s cheek? Did you forget her favorite snack? Did you see your son’s nose run? There’s no shame in it.
Of course, when you know it’s meant to be, it is. When you enter the friend zone, and you’ve had a candlelit dinner for two or a couples massage, by all means forget the rules. Congratulations. It’s true love!