When my brother and I were little, our parents would take us camping with their friends and their children, all of whom were boys.
Every summer, I found myself squirming out of headlocks and sitting around the fire while a symphony of armpit honking echoed throughout our campsite. Not having much of an interest in bug squashing, arm punching and video games, the boys cast me aside.
My dad (exhausted from all my whining), suggested I introduce myself to another little girl at the same campsite.
“Hi, my name is Angela,” was all it took to become instant BFFs.
And after having kids, I thought making friends with other moms would be just as instantaneous. After all, we have procreation in common, why wouldn’t we hang out?
Every week I find myself at the playground, preschool classes and drop-in play centres, where conversations between moms are made, a few laughs shared, but no friendships struck.
Is it that we’re all too exhausted to take that extra step? I have noticed a lot of the moms slamming back extra-large coffees at the playground (myself included).
Some moms seem more interested in bonding with their kids. Others often bring their own mom squad along with them.
With the moms I do manage to strike up conversations with, we can’t seem to get past talking about how wonderful our children are: how cute it is that little Billy loves to eat his peas one at a time, or the adorable way he pronounces “Zwee-bra.”
Because we are moms and we spend every second of the day putting our kids first, maybe it doesn’t occur to us to talk about anything else, certainly not ourselves — our passions. You know, all the prerequisites for building a closer relationship.
It’s easy to make mom friends over social media, but there’s a bond that comes when two moms can unwind in person together. To engage in absolute, unbridled conversations about the pangs and rewards of raising children — sharing a common understanding.
When I became a new mom, I just wanted an ally nearby who could give me an honest answer to that age-old parenting question: will it get better? Someone I could text at three in the morning, just to ask if I was doing it right, or if my breasts would ever bounce back.
Since I was the first in my social circle to take the parenting plunge, I thought, well, at least I have my mom. She’s raised two kids, she’ll be able to help me through everything — or so I thought.
Handing my daughter to her to hold for the first time was like watching her take a pizza out of the oven with her bare hands. The assumption that she was an experienced baby-whisperer quickly faded. She had forgotten everything she said, the sleep deprivation, the art of swaddling, and fair enough, it had been close to thirty years.
I needed to find a mom who was going through the same things as I was, a mom in the same campsite.
My most successful attempt occurred at the dog park of all places. My husband and I struck up a conversation with a couple and instantly clicked. Our kids were the same age, we shared the same sense of humour – all of the makings of a perfect parent date. When we parted ways in the parking lot, we mentioned that we lived nearby, we would see each other again at the park. We never did.
I don’t see these as failed attempts at mom friendship, however. I’ve come to realize they’ve actually been quite successful. On the playground, in the gymnasium, my children have been there by my side, watching me step out of my comfort zone to make a new friend.
Now they’re doing it too.