mom dating

I am getting dressed for a date.

I have exactly one minute, because Eden is already crying. I put on my favorite silver hoop earrings, my most flattering jeans. I give my hair a last, desperate fluff with both hands, glaring at my reflection. I am nervous. I tell myself I shouldn’t be nervous. This isn’t a big deal. Let’s just see if we hit it off. If we don’t hit it off, there are plenty of others. There will be other chances.

We’re meeting at a coffee shop. I push the stroller like I’m on a mission, only sweating a little. I’m there exactly on time. I glance around, trying to look nonchalant. “Don’t cry, baby, don’t cry,” I beg in a frantic whisper as Eden opens her mouth to complain. “You’re okay! You’re okay!” I check my phone for a text. Nothing.

sith lord baby

And then there she is! My new mom date.

She’s wearing a cute vest over her tailored shirt. She’s wearing jeans and boots, like me. That’s a good sign. Maybe. I’m not sure what’s a good sign. Her baby is in a sling. My stroller feels suddenly too bulky. She looks so streamlined. We do an awkward hug around the stroller handle and her politely sleeping baby. Eden begins to wail.

“I’m going to grab a coffee,” she says.

“Yeah,” I say, smiling, wondering why I can’t think of anything more clever to say. My heart is pounding.

Before I had a baby, it never occurred to me that being a new mom can sometimes feel like learning how to date all over again.

 

I’m one of the first in my friend group to reproduce, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to join a moms’ group. And then, after a few weeks of hanging out in my apartment with my colicky baby, I wanted mom friends. But I didn’t know how to get them.

I tried mommy and me yoga. Eden screamed for most of the class while the other babies lay sweetly on their blankets, occasionally cooing adorably up at their fit mothers. I thought about music class, even though Eden was really too young at the time. I realized: There are no classes that are actually beneficial to babies. They’re all for the moms. I went to a local mommy meet-up, where literally everyone else was a corporate lawyer, and I realized that I don’t know enough about what it means to be a corporate lawyer to even ask relevant questions. I wrote to my midwife to see if she might set me up with other women from her practice. She seemed too busy.

I went to the park alone with my baby and watched a group of four happy new moms chat animatedly on a big picnic blanket. I was filled with a clutching loneliness. I squeaked Eden’s giraffe toy as loudly as possible several times, then looked quickly away. SOS! Stranded new mom! Someone? Rescue me? Maybe, I thought, they’d invite me over if they saw me there. They didn’t. Eden fell asleep in the grass.

“This is nice,” I said to myself. “We’re totally fine. Right, Eden?”

park

Suddenly, a nearby sprinkler turned on, soaking us both with freezing water.

Eden woke, screaming in rage. I was trying to pick everything up at once, stuffing her into the stroller and hoping I didn’t permanently damage her in the process. Avoiding eye contact, we fled the scene.

I tried a breastfeeding support group. We sat in a circle on tiny chairs in a preschool, and the two tall, beautiful women on either side of me started a conversation across me. I ducked down, not wanting to interfere. Eden, compressed, grunted in protest and I stuck a nipple in her mouth. The perfect activity for a breastfeeding support group. I noticed a few little hairs next to the nipple. Great. I have hairy boobs and no one wants to talk to me. I glanced wistfully across the circle at a cool young mom with a jaunty hat and short dark hair. She had a tiny boy baby and amazing breasts. Out of my league. 

Moms were standing up and bouncing their babies and heading off to change a diaper, so I got up and inched my way across the room, trying to think of what to say as I went. It felt like speed-dating. I had exactly one minute to charm someone and get her number before the very serious meeting leader called us back to attention.

I started a conversation about diapers, but it didn’t really go anywhere.

diaper

(source)

“Where did you deliver?” I asked a woman who’d mentioned her midwife. Maybe we both had home births? That would be a start!

“Roosevelt,” she said, looking at her phone. “You?”

I didn’t want to say. “Home,” I said, quietly.

Her eyes snapped up. “Really?”

“Yup.”

“Oh.” And then, “I’ve got to go. Take care!”

“Bye!” I said, clutching Eden, unable to offer a friendly wave. Maybe waving is weird, anyway. Eden squirmed.

“Ladies! Let’s all take our seats so we can continue the discussion,” barked the serious meeting leader. “You can chat later. We were talking about mastitis. Who had the issue with mastitis? You. In the green.”

I didn’t want to discuss mastitis. I wanted to make friends.

I sat back down. The two women on either side looked faintly annoyed at the interruption. They exchanged numbers over my head. “I’ll call you next week!” one of them chirped. “Perfect!” cried the other. Their babies nursed calmly.

ECC-12C

(adults should never have to sit in these chairs. source)

And then everyone was leaving. Shit. Shit. A whole evening, wasted! And I had a long walk home.

The cool mom with the hat was by the door. I took a deep breath, collected my giant baby and my even larger diaper bag, and hurried over to her. I slowed down a little when I got close, trying to look casual.

“Your son is so cute,” I said, suavely.

No, not suavely. But like a normal person, probably.

“Your daughter has amazing cheeks,” she said. She was clearly about to leave.

“Can I have your number?” I said. “I’m trying to meet other new moms.”

Totally uncool.

She smiled and said, “Word.”

She gave me her number. I left triumphant. The walk home seemed fine. Until Eden started crying hysterically.

“That baby is hungry,” a stranger diagnosed. “You should feed him!” 

“Thanks,” I said, automatically.

Thanks? Really? 

“I met someone!” I told Bear, later that night. “She seems really cool.”

“That’s good,” he said, obviously not understanding the enormous importance of the event.

255274_3900638546938_1653837807_n4

(on this scale, i think… source)

I felt suddenly deflated.

I didn’t want to be so needy. But I was needy. I was surprised by how needy I was. I was caught off guard by how much I wanted to sit in the park with someone else who was going through this shocking, mundane, weird, boringly ordinary, enormous life change. I wanted to talk about baby poop and napping tricks and the strangeness of doing nothing and everything at the same time and how we felt now about our identities and how our relationships have adapted and sex and art and existence and pacifiers. You know, everything.

That was a while ago. Eden is generally in a better mood these days. It’s winter, so the park is out of the question. And I’ve been mom dating for a few months. Sometimes I meet a mom who just wants to talk diapers and baby toys. Sometimes I meet a mom who just wants to talk work. Sometimes I meet moms who I feel like I can sit with for hours and hours and sometimes I meet moms I’d rather just grab coffee with on my way to something else.  As it turns out, moms are just people with babies.

I know: shocking. Revelatory.

But also: being a mom is a great excuse to get to know someone I’d never have connected with in my previous life. These babies pull us together in new clusters and surprising patterns and give us a place to start. I feel tremendously lucky for my friendship with a woman named Rachel who lives just down the street from me, who I never would’ve met if we hadn’t had our daughters the same summer. Sometimes we sit around and fantasize about Maine together. It was meant to be.

Of course, it’s clear that I won’t end up being soulfriends with all of the women I’m meeting now, but it’s nice to get a chance to look inside their worlds.

And the mom with the hat? Yeah, we’re totally friends now.

HATS-TRILBY-HATS-HEADSTART-HATS-CLASSIC-HEADWEAR-FOR-LADIES-AND-GENTS-craniumfitteds.com_

(source)

I’m baller like that.

OK, maybe not baller.

But at least balling a bit.

And also, after the frantic rush for the first few months, it’s dawning on me that I have plenty of time. The crazy thing is that I am going to be a mom for the rest of my life.

(God. That’s crazy. I have to take a moment to stare at the screen thinking about that.)

I will meet other moms as I go. I don’t really have to do mommy and me yoga unless I actually enjoy it. I can hang out with my old friends, too, and we can talk both about my experience of being a new mom and their other experiences of doing other things. Sometimes it’s nice to not talk about diapers at all for a good hour or so.

But then, of course, sometimes I have a mom date.

“Hey!” she says, sitting down with her coffee, sipping over her baby’s head. “So! Tell me about yourself!”

She is so cool. It’s obvious. A little bit out of my league?

I try to clear my head. I want to say something funny. I hope she likes me. I hope that we connect and laugh and afterwards maybe we can make plans to go out again. On a second mom date. Maybe even to dinner, if the babies will allow. You never know. This might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

*  *  *

I love stories about friend dating. Do you guys have any? When’s the last time you got a really cool stranger to hang out with you?

A version of this piece appeared on Daily Life 

Unroast: Today I love the way I look when I’m playing with Eden and I don’t notice Bear is taking a picture

 

 

 

 

33 Comments »

Kate on January 8th 2014 in motherhood, new york

33 Responses to “mom dating”

  1. Olivia responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Old friends that are currently unbabied are also good for Eden-sitting when they come into town so that you can have a date night :)

    Lovely, as usual. xo

  2. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 10:47 am #

    LOL! Except that I could never bring myself to make them…And I’d want to hang out with them, anyway!
    <3

  3. teegan responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 10:52 am #

    I’d take any friends, moms or no, at this point. I feel like that really sad desperate girl in college who still hasn’t had a boyfriend and gets a little manic/weepy at the thought of a boy even talking to her with a smile on his face, except whatever the friend version of that is.

    Ugh.

    I’m glad you seem so zen about friendship at this point, both with new friends and old, parents and non! Plus, it doesn’t mean you can’t still get all dolled up for friend dates.

    And yes to the doing everything and nothing at the same time! I try to avoid sentences like this one, but wait until you have a trotting climbing 15 month-old crazy cakes – it only gets weirder.

  4. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Oh my god, Teegan, why don’t we live closer??? I would hang out with you ALL THE TIME

    And I’m pretty much only zen for like one second per day, and then I put it in writing to make sure I remember that second

    bring on the weird! I’m so excited (naively?) about the next stages.

  5. Amal responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 11:40 am #

    I feel a bit like Teegan, will take anyone at this point… i’m 38 weeks pregnant, just moved to the west coast and don’t know anyone other than my husband. i met a woman at pre-natal yoga recently and i want to be friends with her so much it makes me feel like the line between “friendly” and “stalker” are really too close for comfort.

    love the way you write. good luck with the dates!

  6. Kim responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    When I was pregnant with my first, I took a swim fitness class for pregnant women (mostly we chatted in the warm pool and did a few stretches). There was a group of women that were all due around the same time, but I was a trimester behind them, so I didn’t get to know them too well before they started disappearing to have their babies. After my son was born, we all got together to meet each other’s babies and chat, and started having regular get-togethers. The women were all very nice to me, and I was thrilled to be invited to our gatherings, but I just wasn’t part of the main group. I remember feeling insanely jealous when a few of them would talk about getting together for coffee or something and I wasn’t invited. I offered to have one of the playdates at my house, and only one person showed up. The weather was really snowy that day, so I tried not to take it personally, but I felt pretty low. I was just so desperate for mom friends! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who felt that way. Thanks for your post.

  7. Kelli responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Kate, you are braver than I! I would enjoy meeting other moms but I’m so scared to go out on a limb & ask for a phone number!
    I’m pregnant with my 2nd now & am going to quit my job after her arrival so I know the desire for more mom friends will only get stronger.
    I am very lucky though that one of my best friends is my little sister & she lives close by. Her son is just 9 days younger than Rhett & she is also pregnant again, so we’ll have our 2nd kids just 3 months apart. And that was a huge help the first time- feeling ok sitting around crying with our boobs hanging out & not caring was a big comfort!
    Making friends as an adult is so, so hard.
    -Kelli

  8. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    @Kelli
    That sounds amazing. You need someone who you can go boobs out with. And cry. Makes me wish I had a sister!

  9. Stephanie responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    Kate,

    I don’t know how you do it, but I love how aware you are of all the feelings and thoughts running through you as you put yourself out there all vulnerable and awkward like. It’s absolutely endearing, mostly because I know [read: we ALL know] what it’s like to be in those types of situations. You’re just courageous enough to put it into words for us to not feel so alone with our vulnerable awkward selves.
    Great writing. Makes me want to be more in tune with the zillion thoughts and feelings of my day to day encounters of the dorky (and oh so real) kind, and put them into words for all to see.

  10. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    @Stephanie
    Do it! Put it into words!

  11. Emily Merkle Snook responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    I recently moved. Far away from where I was before. A girl (woman) I knew in high school lives here. After 20 years we were essentially strangers. I actually didn’t really remember anything about her from our glory days. The magic of Facebook brought us together. I rakishly sent her a PM noting that we had some things in common, and could I have her email address?

    We digitally courted. I have issues with anxiety and all that, so I made sure to be crystal clear about our initial plans, what we’d be wearing, would we hug before, after, or ad hoc? She seemed to talk a lot about herself, but I rationalized that maybe she was nervous. We agreed to revisit after “the holidays”.

    Making adult friends is hard, whether you have a baby or otherwise. People accrue their life baggage and spouses and jobs and routines. You no longer feel that the world is your oyster and anything is possible at 39 (me). But at the same time with age comes dropping all the bullshit insecurity (mostly).

  12. karen responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    This is going to sound like a plug, but it’s not.

    I belong to MOMs club in my area – https://www.momsclub.org/links.html
    (you can find chapters at the link)

    My chapter organizes small play groups by age that meet weekly as well as chapter wide events that anyone can attend. (ex: Lunch at McDonalds while the kids play on the equipment or attending baby story time together at the library)

    My husband is in the military, so we move a lot. MOMs club is a nice way to meet other stay at home moms quickly. They have been welcoming & warm. YMMV, of course, but it might be worth a look for those of you who need to meet folks in your local area.

  13. Kate Also responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Sigh.

    There were 2 women in the prenatal yoga class I went to who I really thought might become new friends. Both have the same general category of job as me, both had boy babies like I did, one is from the same part of the country that I’m from.

    Mom #1, I set up times to hang out with her like six times in a row. She always seemed enthusiastic and happy to get together but never once contacted me. She has a huge circle of friends already and I am unnecessary. Her huge circle of friends includes . . .

    Mom #2. I saw her at yoga every week for like 5 months. Then I ran into her like 5 more times, including twice at Mom #2′s house when the 3 of us (and babies) were the ONLY people present. A few months later my son started daycare, and there she was.

    I said “Hi Susan!” She looked at me blankly. She had no idea who I was.

    In short, I hear you. Making new friends as an adult sucks. You are clearly much better at it than I am.

  14. A responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    It’s so so hard. I remember feeling like this when my son was a baby. I joined playgroups and baby storytime but the friendships never went below the surface. It was awkward. When my son started school, everything changed. Maybe because all if us mothers were seeing each other every day morning and afternoon. But now I have a group that I belong to. It’s great. I still go to playgroup with my younger kids now and I welcome new mothers with open arms and make the effort to get to know them because I know how terrifying it is!!

  15. Katie @ Mommy Call responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    I love this. I have been going through the same thing and actually have a similar post scheduled for Friday (so stay tuned). I went on a mommy date at a coffee shop recently and was more nervous than I expected. It is hard to meet mommy friends, so there is a lot of pressure when you meet someone with that potential. From my experience, the people in those classes are often already friends and you still feel like an outsider. Also, as a working mom, it is hard to find other moms who are able to hang out when you are free. I am often missing the mommy get-togethers while I am at work and that makes it even harder to meet people and sustain friendships. Thanks for sharing your experiences and know that you are not alone!

  16. San D responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    I’m surprised someone hasn’t come up with something similar to jdate, or eharmony.com for mommies, where you can “date” online first, instead of trolling yoga or breastfeeding classes trying to figure out how to break through the cliques.

  17. lik_11 responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    Although I’m not a Mom, I totally identify with this post. All of the friends I have made since moving to my current city/state/US region have either moved away or dropped me like a hot potato. Making friends as an adult is ridiculously difficult. Good luck! Please keep in mind that you have a slew of readers who adamantly believe that no one would be out of your league as a friend. :)

  18. Cindy responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    Kate, friend dating is the hardest. Kudos for being brave enough to put yourself out there!

    Right now, I’m in the opposite situation – my boyfriend and I are the only couple in our group to be baby-less, and sometimes it feels like we’re in a bad rom-com: the men only talk about work (and they all pretty much work together, at the prison, when they’re not doing National Guard things), the women, even though most of them still work, only talk about babies, and everyone is bitching about sex (she never puts out, and he’s always badgering).

    I love babies and I have no problem talking about mommy stuff, but sometimes I think they forgot that they’re women, too. They work, they read. I’d talk about the damn Kardashians if it got them to take a break from potty-training talk!

    I live in a small town and meeting new friends is really tough right now. I’m looking for new work, and found some new volunteer opportunities, so I’m hoping that that can help my conundrum. Good luck with your new mom friends!

  19. Kande responded on 08 Jan 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    The part that resonated most with me was when you spoke about how yo realize moms arejust people, but now with babies. Being a mom changes us in som ways, but not in our fundamental personalities. And becoming a mom for the first time – it is nice to think we have someone who can relate to us – but jushaving a baby doesn’t make us suddenly similar (otherwise there woukd b no infamous Mommy Wars amirite?).

    I was also the first in my friend group to have a baby, and I knew I would need to work to ensure my baby didn’t take over the friendship, while still keeping her the most important person in my life. It helped she wasn’t colicky – that is rough! – but for quite a few years we were able to adapt in order to maintain our already established friendships. She was present but not the centre.

    Of course I was home while my friends worked, so I did join a couple groups as felt I needed something during the day to fill my time. Tht was hit and miss as again – having a baby is not enough in common to envoke friendship.

    For baby two – I had my pre-existing friendships – and I was busy with child one! Plus baby two was a bit fussier. So I didn’t join groups tomake friends, I did things I found fun orthough the baby would enjoy. I was as Isaid busy with child one, and tired as by that point six years older and up with a baby at night. I made sure to book regular dinners with the couples we were already friends with, who by then had their own kids too. And that was enough for me.

    Mind you, I think again it comes down to personality. I am social and talk a lot when at work, or out with friends – but I am also an introvert who likes my alone time, likes being home, and doesn’t feel a huge need to socialize outside of my husband and kids. I do have a couple activities that are “me time”, but otherwise, am content. Maybe that is what having kids does – mellows and tires us out to the point that the thought of staying home and doing nothing sounds amazing ;)

    But it sounds like you have a social itch to scratch,and there is nothing wrong with that! It is neat to meet unexpected friends due to being parents, but the best friendships are usually those where being a parent is more an aside than the only commonality.

  20. Jennn responded on 09 Jan 2014 at 1:05 am #

    You know what the next step is? Family dating, which involves introducing her husband to your husband. It’s SO HARD to find a family that matches you, your kids, AND your husband!

  21. Morgan responded on 09 Jan 2014 at 1:27 am #

    You just captured all of the thoughts that have been going through my head over the course of the last year as I’ve been attempting to meet new people and find some close friends post-grad school. I’m not a mama yet but I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts on motherhood and the transitions, challenges, beauty, and mundanity that come with it – and all your posts, really.

    And just an idea for new moms looking to meet other moms or even just get out of the house for a while: check out your local library! Full disclosure: I’m a children’s librarian so I’m a bit bias…but in my library system we have special storytimes most weekday mornings designed specifically for infants, toddlers, or preschoolers. I also host special baby storytimes a few times a month on weekend mornings that have extra time added in for parents to just hang out, play with their kids, and get to know each other. I’ve seen many friendships blossom out of these events (for the moms, dads, and munchkins). And best of all: it’s free! And you don’t have to so anything besides show up and let someone read and sing and recite rhymes for you and your baby. :)

  22. Jen responded on 09 Jan 2014 at 5:36 am #

    I’m in Australia and here you are automatically linked in with mums from your area who have had babies in the same month as you. My first mother’s group didn’t work out, but I have met another group who are *amazing*. I was a bit lost in between. It’s such a roller coaster being a new mum, it’s so important to get that support from mums going through it too!

  23. Kaitlin responded on 09 Jan 2014 at 6:42 am #

    This is a great, relatable post. I’m pregnant and my husband and I live far away from our families. We’ve lived here about 2.5 years, and our friends are not baby people really. So I’m nervous about making mom friends. I’ve actually just flat out said to moms I meet who seem cool: “how did you make mom friends? Can you help me?” And they’ve all been so sweet and helpful. I think because it’s a pretty universal feeling, most people are happy to help. One of my mom mentors even wrote a list of a bunch of local mom groups for me.

  24. Amy responded on 09 Jan 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Ah, Kate! My husband and I talk about this often. It is a significant stressor for us, not having friends. We didn’t have very many before we had our son and now we have…one…ish. I saw a very cool looking lady walking down my street with a baby about the same age as mine and it was all I could do to not stop the car as ask her if we could be friends. Hahaha.
    I have looked into mommy groups in the area and they are all very mommy focused. As in, “don’t bring your baby”. Uh. But. I want to? So…ok then.
    It is tough and I’m glad you touched on it.

  25. Kate responded on 09 Jan 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    @Jen
    Whenever I hear about maternity stuff in Australia, I’m immediately jealous!

  26. Kate responded on 09 Jan 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    @Jennn
    AAAHH!!! OF COURSE

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  28. shelley responded on 09 Jan 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    I remember this phase, it was so hard, but rewarding in the end. Mom dates are awesome, find a good yahoogroup brooklynbabyhui was the one where I met moms. It is still around.

  29. alex responded on 12 Jan 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    maybe you could start a Mum dating business, could be really cool!
    Then you could pre-screen all of the Mums and pick your faves for yourself :)
    I think you are on to something here!
    Keep up the great work, always love reading your blog…passed it on to a male trainer I met so he could share it with his clients…I was selling food and told him to eat the damn cake, life is too short…then told him about your blog and he was excited!

  30. Angela responded on 13 Jan 2014 at 2:00 am #

    Oh my goodness it did not occur to me until now that the lack of friend-making skills (I just don’t meet the right people, I tell myself often) will bite my butt when I have a beb. We’re in the process of moving to a new city too. If only hologram technology properly existed then all the friendless ladies who have commented here could get together, regardless of location!

  31. ariella responded on 17 Jan 2014 at 11:35 am #

    I remember those days. I met some mom at synagogue, but also at an attachment parenting group. I did go to lll meetings too but didn’t connect with the moms there. It is a constantly shifting game as the kids get older there are new rules. Glad u r f inding some friends and making new connections.

    I still mom date ;) now it is through homeschool groups, hiking groups, hirl scouts, folks from kids activities… some r easier than others

  32. Odette responded on 28 Jan 2014 at 4:07 am #

    First time commenting but I love your blog! Just saw this and figured you’ve already heard of it, but if not… http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/24/mom-meet-mom-is-a-match-com-for-the-stroller-crowd/?source=gravity. It’s literally like match.com for moms/ one-on-one friend “dating.” I’m not a mom but I saw this and immediately thought of your blog post.

  33. Jo responded on 10 Feb 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    I came across this post, coincidentally, just as I’ve just started looking for mommy friends. It’s so hard to make new friends! Too many years of corporate life and being comfortable with school/childhood friends..

    Thank you for expressing all this so eloquently. :)