Dear Playground Moms
February 19, 2009
Hey guys! Remember me? The mom who kept shouting, "Put down the stick! You don't need another stick! NO MORE STICKS!" at the almost-two-year-old who pretended not to hear?
My toddler wandered over to your toddlers. Did you see how they were sniffing each other out? Doing the I-Haven't-Seen-You-Around-Here-Before dance? I guess I was sort of doing it too. I'm not used to seeing other moms at this playground. I usually see homeless people camped out near the bathrooms and teenagers making each other sick on the merry go round. I guess that's why I haven't been here in a while, but it was sunny and this playground is within walking distance of my house. I couldn't help dorking out a little when I saw you. Other moms! With kids my kid's age!
You all seemed to know each other. Maybe your playgroup was meeting at this park? While I tried to make sure my kid wasn't stabbing your kids with his sticks, I overheard some of your conversation. I can totally relate to that sleeping issue. I just started my baby on solid foods too. And I totally know how much it sucks to be pregnant and take care of a toddler at the same time, BELIEVE ME. You smiled at me, so I know you know I was there. I would have fit right in, you know.
Maybe I should have said something myself, but I was too intimidated. I mean, you were all friends already and your shoes were way cuter than mine. I liked your hair and your strollers and your kids' names, and maybe you looked at me and wondered why that girl in the sweatpants and mismatched gloves found it so difficult to keep her toddler from climbing up the slide when everyone else wanted to go down. What's funny is that the lone dad in your group was the only person who said hello to me. He was great, actually, wiping down the slides so the kids wouldn't get wet and small-talking about having babies close in age. He even said goodbye when my youngest started shrieking and I had to pack up and get home earlier than I planned.
It's okay, though, I don't blame you. I have my own group of mom friends and I don't always know if it's okay to talk to New People when I'm with my familiar crowd. Do you invite the new mom into the group or do you keep things comfortable, with just the women you already know? In fact, the very next day I found myself in your position, and while I smiled and nodded at the New Mom, I didn't make much of an effort to include her. I'm an introvert, I told myself. Let the outgoing people make the new friends.
But I think I need to start making that effort. I need to introduce myself, even if my introduction goes nowhere. Moms who stay home can be pretty isolated these days -- just look at how many of us are connecting online. It's a risk, talking to someone new, but it'd be worth it if I could make a mom friend close enough to visit during the dreaded four o'clock witching hour.
See you next time,