Yesterday, I typed up a text message then deleted it. A few minutes later, my baby clinging to my legs, screaming, I tried again. It didn’t seem right. When my husband came home, I asked him to look over the text. “Is this too needy? Too desperate? Should I wait 48 hours to send it?”
He blinked so hard, I could hear his bewilderment. “Um, aren’t you just texting a new friend?”
Not any new friend. A mom friend.
Finding a friend is hard enough, in our increasingly digital and isolated world. I have many friends from college or friends from my old jobs, who I email, call and text on any given day. But staying home with my kids is sometimes a lonely job and really, the baby is terrible at discussing “Game of Thrones” with me. I need to talk to a human, an adult, someone who can pour me coffee and say, “I’m sorry your baby threatened you with a knife.” But, finding the perfect mom friend for impromptu playdates to the park and commiserating over coffee while our kids throw blocks at each other is hard. It requires the perfect confluence of proximity, schedules and childrens’ ages. Also, your kids have to get along. I once had a perfect mom friend, who enjoyed discussing “Downton Abby” and what’s wrong with the animals at Bever Park (a favorite topic of mine). But my daughter decided her daughter was a horrible witch who was casting mean spells on her. My friend’s daughter responding by shrieking and kicking my kid in the shins. The relationship didn’t last long.
This year, I’ve found myself irrationally angry at mom friends who dared sign their children up for preschool on alternating days than my children. “Why wasn’t Tuesday/Thursday good enough for you?” I found myself yelling at a friend the other day. She patted my arm. “I will miss you too.”
Finding a new mom friend is often like dating. You go to parks and groups, trying to scope out someone who doesn’t look like they’re going to judge the fact that your baby has a face full of dirt and your three-year-old is sobbing because her stick isn’t magical. Someone who might be able to talk about minivans and books and shrug when you say your kid was three when she finally gave up the pacifier. And not newly-minted three. And unfortunately, I was never good at dating. Of the four people I dated before my husband, three of them are married to men now.
But the other day, I bumped into a mom at the mall after my baby tried to push hers. We started talking and discovered that we have all the right elements—she lives in the neighborhood, our schedules match, and our kids seem to like one another. Not to mention, she can talk to me about books and some of the crime procedurals I enjoy. I mean, she hasn’t seen every episode of “Criminal Minds” twice, but no one is perfect. Best of all, she’s new to town, so she’s just desperate enough to need a friend. We exchanged numbers and I immediately made a playdate.
So, it appears I have a new mom friend. Which will last until my daughter decides her daughter is a witch. I lose more friends that way.
Disclaimer: I wrote this originally for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, but it has become really timely, so I republished here. Yes, that makes me lazy.