Making Mom Friends Is Like Dating, But More Awkward

by Megan Reamsnyder
Two women leaning on a balcony during sunrise, with cups of coffee in their hands, talking and smili...
AntonioGuillem / Getty

Does anyone know how to make mom friends who aren’t trying to sell you something, judge you, or fix your parenting? I don’t.

I made a mom friend the other day. Well, okay. I might have made a mom friend. We bonded at the playground and awkwardly exchanged Facebook info. It’s not often that you randomly meet a mom and really feel like you have things in common. She’s either going to be my new BFF or I’ll never speak to her again. Either way I’ll probably “like” her daughter’s wedding photos in 20 years because Facebook.

Why is it so freaking hard to make mom friends? It’s a lot like dating, except instead of fun things like fancy dinners and sexual tension, there’s just a lot of confusion and awkwardness. Maybe it’s just me and I’m doing it all wrong. So far, in my several years as a mother I have yet to figure out the proper way to turn a stranger into a friend without totally embarrassing myself in the process.

It’s not like I don’t have friends, I do. I have quite a few wonderful friends who have probably all suffered through my “foot in mouth” syndrome at some point in our friendships. BLESS THEM.

True story, one time I made a friend because I had too many glasses of wine, looked her dead in the eye and declared “we are going to be friends!” It worked out, but I wasn’t bringing my A game.

My clumsy efforts at enticing friendship generally evolve in the following manner…

Initial Contact

We smile shyly at one another over across the baby swings. Make furtive glances over packages of now smashed goldfish crackers. Maybe she offers up a quick smile as our kids run off together.

The Come On

We’ve acknowledged each other, and she seems receptive. If I’m not sure yet, I try a gentle start: “I love your shoes/stroller/diaper bag.” Is this turning into something more? Will she be my new bestie for life? Now it’s time to for my classic opening line – “How old is your child?”

If another mom asks you “how is old is your kid,” that’s basically an invitation to dinner. She’s desperate for adult conversation. DON’T LET THIS WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY PASS.

The Talk

Now is my moment to either really screw this up or potentially get that number, yo! That first conversation is so complicated because we are both trying to suss out if the other is cool or not. Are you on my parenting wavelength? Do we share similar values? Do you seem like a stage 5 clinger?

Do I Seem Like A Stage 5 Clinger?

Before we go any further, I’m trying to figure out if she is a total weirdo whose children eat only kale and dandelion stems. We all know it’s wrong to judge each other, but I’m not exchanging info with a mom who is going to spend the next 12 years of my life trying to save me or sell me body wraps.

True story: Once I went on a “playdate” only to discover it was a sales pitch. I am gullible.

The Exchange

Alright! This lady seems kind of normal and not likely to decide I need both Jesus and a starter pack of essential oils! Let’s exchange info!

“So. Umm. Our kids seem to be getting along. Should we uhh, you know…”

“Oh! Yes! Are you on Facebook?”

“Yeah! But umm… What was your name again?”

“Great, We’ll get the kids together for a playdate!”

Once that little bit is out of the way, congrats! I’ve made a mom friend! JUST KIDDING. THIS IS WHERE IT GETS WEIRD.

Setting Up The Playdate

When do I make contact? Do I invite her over? Is that too forward? Ok, pick a neutral location. How soon do we set something up? I don’t want to be pushy, but I don’t want to let the momentum die. These questions keep me awake at night.

I once met a woman and her kids at the library; we hit it off and are now friends on Facebook. I invited her to join me and the girls at the park one day, but something came up and she had to cancel. Not a big deal itself, but now I don’t know who is responsible for the next step. Like, what if she was nicely blowing me off and I should take a hint? What if it had nothing to do with me and she feels like a complete jerk and is too embarrassed to get in touch again? What if she never gave it another thought?


The Playdate

Occasionally, we clear those hurdles and make it to a playdate. Praise be! If the playdate doesn’t turn out to be a sales pitch or suddenly turn into a babysitting gig, I may have a new friend.

Oh, and I suppose the kids need to get along too.

The Awkward Drop Or BFF

OKAY. SO. Our kids get along, we get along. We’re friends! We’ve had more than one successful social interaction.

But sometimes it ends… oddly. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to pinpoint the cause. If you’re unlucky you’ll get the awkward drop for seemingly no reason at all. Maybe it was me, maybe they are just super busy, maybe they are straight bonkers. You’ll never know.

True story: I Facebook friended a mom from my daughter’s preschool when she suggested a playdate for our girls. Months later, that friend request is still hanging awkwardly between us. She has neither confirmed or denied me. We see each other every single pickup. We chat. She says, “We should have a playdate!” But still. That awkward request hangs there. What is even happening?!

Every now and then, this all works out and, before you know it, you have a true friend, someone who has seen your worst parenting moments and responded with “me too girl, me too.” These women are national treasures and you should never let them go. But don’t be a stage 5 clinger — it’s a fine line.

Good luck out there ladies. May the odds be ever in your favor.