My son is two years old. I have been blaming my lack of friends who are moms on various things along the different stages of his life. He was born in November, during one of the worst winters we’ve had in New York in years. Maybe you remember the term “snowpocalypse?” Yeah. As a new mom, I was terrified of strapping him on to my chest – certain that I would slip on a patch of black ice and crush him to death. The few outings we took with the stroller were reminiscent of watching an economy sized car without snow chains in a blizzard. Stuck every few feet – it was frustrating at best. We inadvertently became shut-ins. Not a whole lot of socializing going on during those months.
As he started to get a little older, the few moms I did know were beginning to put their kids in playgroups that I couldn’t afford. And frankly, paying to go somewhere to play with my kids with other moms always seemed a little ridiculous anyway. I vowed to make mom friends the old-fashioned way – by striking up a conversation at the park.
Not so easy in Brooklyn. I would say that about 70% of the adults at the park with children during the day are nannies. I don’t have anything against hanging out with nannies, but they never really warmed up to me. Whenever I tried to strike up a conversation they would inevitably look at me as if I were some playground spy who was planted to make sure they were doing their job right. Like a live nanny-cam. I started realizing that those pay-to-play dates may not be so “ridiculous” after all.
When I would finally meet a mom who I connected with, it would be almost impossible to schedule a date. I work nights. Most moms I meet are in the nine-to-five grind. I have writing deadlines on weekends. Our schedules just never seemed to mesh.
I am sad about this. It would have been nice to have some camaraderie during the first few years of my son’s life. I always envisioned lots of playdates – and by that I mean our children playing with each other and us moms drinking coffee and gossiping. The way it was with my mother when I was growing up. Times have changed pretty drastically, though. Living in a city I can’t afford has given me the stay-at-home-mom lifestyle, minus the no-work part. Because of this hang-up, I think I’ve become used to blaming city life for the fact that I might not be so great at making friends with grown-ups who breed.
I was late to the party. I didn’t have my first child until I was 37. Now, at 40, I’m expecting my second. Before becoming a parent, I was a bartender my whole life. The group of friends I made when I moved to New York were all a part of that bar scene. As you can imagine, the bar business isn’t that conducive to parenthood. There aren’t a lot of parents who choose to be bartenders due to the long, late hours. And there aren’t a lot of bar regulars in Brooklyn who have children. Thankfully, I guess.
All of these elements have given me an amazing circle of friends – none of which have children. I guess between the hustle and bustle of existing in the city and parenting full-time, whenever I have a free moment I want to spend it with the friends I already have. I know some people think, who cares if your friends have kids? Friends are friends. But it would be nice to hang out with someone who wants to talk about the things most people consider “TMI” if they don’t have kids. Not all the time – I do have a life outside of my child – but it would be nice to have that kind of connection with another parent.
I think my shortcomings in this area have really been to the detriment of my child. He has no friends. Of course he plays with kids here and there at the park – but none regularly. We’re soon moving to Florida, and I’m hoping I can blame this all on city-living, not my inability to reach out to other women with kids. I’m just a little nervous about this whole thing. I mean, if I can’t do it here – why would I be able to do it somewhere else?
Now that I’m moving to suburbia, having another child, and working from home – maybe I’ll be able to finally identify myself as “mom.” Clearly, all of the problems I think I have making “mom” friends are originating in my head. Hopefully I’ll be able to let them go and allow myself to experience some suburban bliss – complete with playdates that involve coffee and gossip.