Maybe it's just the way that I feel. Maybe you can relate. But, does making friends with other moms seem kinda like dating?
I mean, there's an awkwardness to it. Then, you have to find someone you have something other than family and kids and motherhood that the two of you have in common. And, that still doesn't guarantee that a friendship will blossom.
I am not talking about socializing with other moms at school events. Socializing is easy peasy. I can do that all day and all night. But, to ask for a phone number or recommend getting together is kinda sorta like asking someone on a date. I'm feeling a connection here...would you like to get together for lunch or a play date or something?
Tell me that doesn't sound just like asking someone out on a date.
Now, I've been out of the dating game for nearly two decades, so it's not like I'm an expert at it. Far from it. I mean, I can give advice, but as far as going out there and doing it myself...I wouldn't know how to even act on a date anymore, let alone ask someone out or agree to go out sometime. I would be nervous, anxious, and probably sick to my stomach. Blundering and floundering like a fool.
I've been a mom for sixteen years now. Nine kids. I am grounded in the ol' housewife and mom routine that mostly characterizes my existence in this world. Matter of fact, I will probably be giving my children dating advice before long!
Anyway, it is easy to get involved in the hustle and bustle of the everyday life of a mom. Most of the time, I don't even realize that I am going through the usual routine, day after day. It doesn't even phase me that I don't participate in Ladies Night or brunch or whatever else moms who congregate with each other do together.
Then there are the times when it hits me that, even if I wanted to go out somewhere and destress from the wear and tear of nurturing nine children and a man, I wouldn't have anyone to call. I mean, maybe I could search through my Facebook list and find everyone in the Buffalo area and start making calls if I got really desperate. Most of my friends, people who I can text when I'm having a moment, are hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away.
So, I thought, Hey! Why not treat making friend with other moms like dating? Or, at least use some of the dating advice for single people and turn it into advice for making new friends?
Or you could just use the technique that our children tend to use most often. Next time you see some moms hanging out together, just walk up to them and start playing with them. That's what my kids do, anyway.
1. Determine Ideal Characteristics
Just like you would when you are dating, you should think about which characteristics you yearn for in a friend. Do you like upbeat, type-A, go-go-go people or do they drive you crazy? A mom that you would get along awesome with and one that I would enjoy hanging out with could be two totally different people, so have an idea of what type of mom friend you are searching for. You may even want to watch interactions between the mom and her children to ensure that she doesn't have terribly behaved brats - after all, your kids will probably be playing together if you are friends.
2. Have a Conversation or Two
Okay, you think you may have found her. But, you want to make sure that conversations are not going to be boring or radically insane. I mean, isn't that what mom friends do? Talk? Open up the conversation with a general topic, maybe something kid related. Obviously, you will want to quickly extinguish convos with moms who cannot carry on a lucid conversation. Get rid of those who do all talking and no listening. That type of stuff. You will figure it out. Follow your gut.
There is a Part 2 here. If the conversations seem to be going good, throw out a grenade. Talk about how your son hit a little girl or your sore breasts - or whatever comes to mind. And check her reaction. A prude who clams up and acts all puritanical will make a boring friend. If she acts shocked that your son hit a girl without coming back at you with her own story of how her child misbehaved, she is not a real mom. And, chances are, she will be a sucky friend.
3. Set up the Play Date (1st date)
Yes, I am telling you to use your kids to screen new potential friends. Go ahead and set up a play date, preferably somewhere the two of you can actually talk more. Talk about everything you can. Music. Celebrities. A recent movie you saw. Upcoming movies you want to see. Are there any commonalities? Simultaneously, watch how she handles her child or children. Do you have similar parenting techniques or are they grossly opposite? Sure, friends are similar in some ways and different in others, but you don't want to be so dissimilar that a friendship will not work. It may take a few play dates to ascertain whether it is a good fit or not for the both of you. You both will either feel a vibe or you won't.
4. The Home Visit (Getting Serious)
This is where conversations can get more serious. Send the kids off to the playroom or bedrooms - wherever they can play - and set her up in the kitchen or living room, where she can feel comfy. Offer her coffee, tea, soda, water, a snack or treat. Maybe have a snack time planned for the adults and follow it up with a snack time for the children, a little later on. During this conversation, purposely bring up the topics that parents disagree about. Spanking, medicating children, co-sleeping, abortion, vaccinations, in-laws. Let the conversation flow from topic to topic.
Don't allow it to appear planned or forced. Can you be friends with someone who stands steadfastly on certain topics, on the other side of the fence of your personal opinion? Or, do you happen to agree on most subjects? At the end of the "date", does she help you clean up after snack time? Does she make her children clean up the toy mess? Do they say "thank you?"
Wow, you have found a perfect fit! Now, just like any other relationship, you have to nurture the friendship. Maintenance is a vital aspect of all relationships. You have to make sure that you are there for her just as much as she is there for you. Answer all of her texts and calls. Attend scheduled dates. Deal with her kids, and maybe even take care of them when she's in a bind for a sitter.
Which leads back to before we started this list of tips. Would we rather just be lonely? Seems like a lot less work than friendship. Seems like just one more person to care for, and actually more than one, because then there are her children and her husband, and that is so much more to put on this already overfull plate of responsibilities that I call motherhood.
Then again, there is nothing like a best friend you can call "sis," who won't judge you (or maybe she will, but aren't friends supposed to tell you the truth?), and will be there for you when you are sick or having a bad day.