I watch as my daughter runs up to the nearest kid while we are at the park, smiles, puts her hand on their shoulder and sweetly says, "Want to play?" An hour later and they are declaring their undying love for each other. Just like that a new friendship has blossomed. It doesn’t matter to them where they live, what car Mom drives, who was breastfed, and who cried it out. All that matters is that they genuinely like each other. My daughter grabs her new friend’s hand and says, "You’re my best friend!"
And she means it.
If only making friends as an adult was that simple. Becoming a mom made it a smidge easier. I joined the local new mom’s group and there we had it. A group of women who all had the same thing in common: we were obsessed with our new offspring. Add to that a dash of postpartum recovery and weight loss and we were bosom buddies. I remember thinking how easy it was to have a new circle of friends. How becoming a mom made a somewhat daunting scenario so effortless.
As our children grew we all stayed in touch. Playdates and story hour replaced bars and shopping trips. This new world of friendships was great. We all came from varied backgrounds and each had a different style of parenting. It didn’t matter. We were all moms of young babies. We were soldiers in the trenches. Brother’s in arms had nothing on us sister’s in spit-up.
Slowly our little group started to branch out as we emerged from our baby trenches into the open field’s of toddlerhood. Our children started to become more independent. A trip to the park now meant you could actually hold a conversation with another adult instead of wedging yourself down the slide. One. More. Time. This opened up a whole world of potential friends. I assumed that making them would be just as easy as it was in those early days.
I was wrong.
Sure, all parents still have their kids in common. But parenting takes many many different shapes once you are out of those baby trenches. These shapes form vastly varied moms. These moms don’t always have a lot in common with you. Sure, at first, when your children are playing together professing undying love, it would seem like you would have to have a ton in common. Not true. See opening paragraph. I soon discovered that just because my kid loves her kid it does not mean I will want to be BFFs with their mommy and that is completely OK.
But here is where the mommy-friendship differs from the typical adult friendship. Sometimes you will have to spend a whole lot of time with someone you wouldn’t normally be friends with. This is where you can either follow your child’s lead, find one or two things you have in common and enjoy their company or you can bolt. Generally, I choose the former. My daughter is not old enough to have playdates without me. So, me and her new best friend’s mom will be spending a lot of time bench sharing at the park.
I have taken this opportunity to get to know fellow moms. We share stories, not just about our children, but also about us. How we became who we are. Who we hope to be. Our joys and fears. The result has been wonderful. I now have a vastly varied group of friends. I believe that without all that bench sharing, without our children wanting to spend time together, I may have never gotten to know them. I mean, really know them. Most of the time, something that would have been a friendship deal breaker pre-mommyhood, is explained away through shared stories. If I had avoided these women based solely on first impressions or because I thought we didn’t "click," I would have missed out on knowing some pretty amazing ladies.
I finish the conversation I was having with the new kid’s mom and tell my daughter it is time to go home. She and her friend cling to each other declaring they won’t go. Hugs are given and we eventually walk to the car. But, not before I say to the new mom, "It was really nice chatting with you, hope to do it again soon."
And I mean it.
Michelle writes from her tiny house that she shares with the loves of her life. Her only reference for time is the seasons and the growth of her child. She wanders with a purpose and day dreams frequently. Her writing can be found on her parent-oriented blog: www.JuiceboxConfession.com, her personal musings: www.MichelleElizabeth.wordpress.com, and on her writer’s collective: www.LiteraryTraces.com. Her photos can also be seen weekly on www.LuminousTraces.wordpress.com.