“Your little one watches Ryan too? That’s one of our favorite YouTube channels!”
I was way too excited about that. I was at my best friend’s birthday party talking to one of her co-workers and that’s how we bonded — over our kids’ favorite YouTube influencers. What has my life become?
The conversation didn’t stop there; it was like a gateway drug. We started talking about which videos we love, which channels we hate, and which ones are banned. I felt it necessary to warn everyone about the perils of the Bad Baby videos because my kid started exhibiting some naughty behavior after watching them, and I wanted to save everyone the trouble of going through what I went through. You’re welcome, guys.
What started as a simple getting-to-know-each-other conversation led to a common ground that ended with us sharing an Uber home together that night.
The night hadn’t started that way though. Initially, we were talking about things like television and tattoos, and ya know, not mom stuff. It was a pretty even split of not-moms to moms so we didn’t want to alienate the others by talking about things like potty training and naps.
But then as people started to leave and it was mostly moms left, well, there was just no stopping it. It’s like a general rule: If you have more than three moms in a group, the conversation will inevitably turn to mom stuff. Right?
It was nice to make a new mom friend, but like many parenting-based friendships, it will likely be a superficial friendship based around the fact that our kids may get along and give us five minutes of peace while they play trains, not because we have so much in common outside of the playground.
I’m not saying that I’m looking for my new best friend, but being able to talk about things totally unrelated to our kids would be nice, right? Sometimes I want to talk about grown-up things, even if it is something as silly as my love for Grey’s Anatomy or my obsession with LuLaRoe.
When I was younger, making friends was such a different animal. All I wanted was to find someone who liked the same things I like — books, pop music, and good food. Even when I was out of college and met all of my friends at work, I still only wanted to really be around the co-workers whom I felt some sort of emotional connection with. I wanted someone whom I could sit on the couch with, a glass of wine in hand while we zoned out watching television or talking about relationship drama or…something that wasn’t potty training or pediatricians or breastfeeding.
Even with my most cherished friends from before motherhood, who are also moms now, the conversation always jumps to our kids. We have so much in common, we have created so many memories together, and yet it always circles back to the kids. Our bonds now are the bonds of being in the motherhood trenches together, not of our shared history.
My son and I spend a lot of time at the playground in our neighborhood, so I’ve become casually friendly with a lot of the other parents in the area. There is only so much to do when you’re stuck sitting outside while your kid plays. More often than not the conversations are surface casual — work, kids, that kind of thing. If it’s one of the few families whom I’ve known for years, we may comment about how quickly the kids are growing up. But even though we have an easy rapport on the playground, we never suggest taking our relationship outside of the sandbox. Sometimes I think it, but then I ask myself, What in the world would we talk about?
If it’s a mom whom I have never met before, I am often hesitant to say anything to her. I mean, what do you say? “I see that you have made a small human. I have also made a small human. Maybe we can converse while our small humans chase each other around?” I think not. It’s hard to gauge if another mom is interested; you have to read the signs and try to figure it out. Like, if she’s not on her phone she might be receptive, but then you have to read her body language. I get too nervous and just let her come to me.
I have noticed that one surefire way to engage another parent is to tell them that their kid is cute. Of course, I never use this unless I actually believe it because I could never lie, but if I see a cutie pie, I’m going to tell their parent. If after the “thank you” I seem to get the green light (meaning she doesn’t turn around and ignore me), then I’ll begin a conversation. Even then, the topic seems to revolve around our children: how they behave, how they interact with each other (my kid doesn’t like to share so I spend much of the time apologizing for his behavior). It is easy not to have to interact when you’re outdoors.
Indoors is a whole different story though. You are almost forced to be friendly; you lack the physical space to pretend you’re really reading something on your phone. Of course, things can still get awkward. Here I go again with the “I see that you have made a small human. I have also made a small human. Maybe we can converse while our small humans chase each other around?”
Trying to make friends with the other moms you encounter is like online dating. You have no idea if a person is who they appear to be, and then when you meet, you’re super awkward and forget how to act. Where do I put my hands? Does this top actually look stupid as hell on me? Why did I wear these pants today? Am I sniffling too much? We’ve all been there.
I don’t have a way to tie this up for you because I clearly am struggling here. I want friends, but I’m so tired and I don’t know what to say and I’m not sure when I will be available for another playdate. Also, some days I am not sure that I want friends because, again, I’m so tired. Yeah, trying to make mom friends really is like online dating. There’s an app for that.