Have you seen this post on “Dating for Moms”? It floated around my Facebook feed last week and I just recently got around to reading it. It’s about striking up friendships with other moms, and how doing so can look an awful lot like dating. Pretty funny, to be sure. As I only have two very young boys at this point, I hadn’t given the subject too much thought. My boys aren’t into any sports yet, and my oldest only just started preschool last week.
I am, however, very familiar with a little dance that has always reminded me of trying to gauge whether that cute guy might be into you and whether maybe he’d like to hang out sometime. Only it’s way more transparent – and probably smacks more of desperation than you’d like. It looks something like this:
You’re at the park/grocery store/church/library and you see a woman around your own age, dressed in kinda sorta the same style and/or level of sloppiness as yourself, with a couple of kids hanging on to her (or being chased by her) that look to be about your own children’s ages. You give her some sort of sympathetic smile regarding whatever child behavior she’s dealing with at the moment. You glance at your own children to indicate that you are/have been in the same boat.
You find a way to walk over to her and inquire about her children. You say something about yours.
If she seems likeable and interested in chatting with you, you introduce yourself. This is where you almost stumble over yourself, asking “Do you stay home?” with a sort of wild-eyed desperation that you’re honestly only a little bit embarrassed about.
If she answers yes, your excitement jumps up a few notches because Your Schedules Might Be Compatible! And She Knows What I Go Through! And Maybe She’d Like To Do Play-dates!
You ask a few of the requisite getting-to-know you questions: how many children she has, their ages, where she lives, does she frequent this park/grocery store/church/library, is she from the area, does she know lots of people here, etc.
While one part of your brain is processing the information, another part is just about jumping up and down, singing “I think I like her! I think she likes me! We could be friends!” Another part of your brain is trying to stay cool and not freak her out with your enthusiasm.
If everything goes really well, you get up the nerve to exchange contact information. You’re still trying to be cool about it, but you’re already thinking about how much time is appropriate to let pass before you email her. You might even call a girlfriend on the way home, to share! your! excitement!
Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this little dance.
Because I did it this weekend.
And in all seriousness, though the “dance” or the “dating” seems funny when you look at it through the lens of your long-ago crushes, it’s not a game, nor is it insincere.
As a stay-at-home mom, you spend the bulk of your hours surrounded by little people, yet also somehow alone. When you stumble across someone who shares that experience, and in whom you sense a spark of something that could develop into friendship, you grab at it. Or at least I do.
I know that an awful lot of people are too shy to approach a stranger and strike up a conversation. I’m pretty darned outgoing and I still hesitate before doing so. But when it comes down to it, I understand that if I want to have friends in my life who are here, right now, in my own community, I have to do something about it. I have to put myself out there. I have to walk up to somebody and make the small talk. I have to risk embarrassing myself over an awkward, hasty “Sodoyoustayhome?”
Six years ago, I decided to just get over myself and try online dating. I figured that if it lead me to my future husband, it would be worth the hassle and embarrassment. Boy, did it pay off — big time. So now I remind myself to take those smaller risks on the playground, in hopes that they’ll pay off too.
So if you find yourself at a park/grocery store/church/library in these here parts and I walk up to you, please be kind. Take my attention not so much as a mark of crazy-eyed mommy desperation, but rather as a compliment. You must come across as a reasonable, pleasant person who takes good care of her children. Because I’m not going to bother with any other sort.