“Hello, what’s your name?”
“My name is Julianne. What’s your name?”
Boom. A friendship is made…among 3 year-olds. With adults, it is a little more complicated. And, to be honest, my daughter is ten times better at making friends than I am.Today, at the splash pad, we met a friend. Leli was wandering around aimlessly and told me, “I want to make a friend.”
“Okay! Let’s pick one!” We looked around- she picked a girl crying. After I had to make up my best guess as to why the girl was crying (“water got in her eye” was the best I could do), I moved us along, and we found a girl in a mermaid suit. I watched them greet each other and slowly warm up to the idea of following each other around. I asked Leli a few minutes later what her friend’s name was. “Mermaid.” Oh, great. My kid is calling her mermaid because I pointed out the one on her suit. Well, it turned out alright because when I asked the girl her name, she responded, “My name is ____ and I’m a mermaid.” Ah. Hence the confusion.
Well, Mermaid’s mom wandered over since the kids were playing closer to me, and we started talking. I started out by making sure I had heard her daughter’s name right. We talked ages. Commented on cute bathing suits. After this, if convos don’t die out, it has to get a little more personal. Where are you from? How do you like it here? I am always up for new friends, especially if they have kids near my daughter’s age. But it takes work.
My problem is that I feel incredibly awkward. Number 1- you are trying to make a good impression while aware of the fact that your kid might at any moment trip their kid (on purpose, accidentally…who really knows), say she doesn’t want to play with her any more, or randomly start speaking baby talk (it’s a phase we’re in). Number 2- there are the Mom minefields. Iffy topics. So, you have to censor your speech to avoid any words having to do with sleep training, diapering, type of child birth, working v. stay at home mom, and pretty much anything having to do with food. Ugh!!! Number 3- your 8 month old still wakes up 3-4 times at night and everyone is awake by 6am, so you really don’t want to talk to anyone…ever.
My other problem when meeting anyone is that I think the silence in the conversation is automatically my fault. So, I ask a zillion questions. In this particular circumstance, I realized after the first 20 that she had not asked a single question. What does one do in such a situation? Well, I started volunteering information about myself. Yep. “Yeah, I have 3 sisters…they all live close by.” I was encouraged by her response of “Oh no- don’t drink the water, sweetie. That’s yucky.”
Yeah, it’s very real talking to other moms. Now you can see why I don’t make new friends easily. Even a conversation with a long time friend or your spouse can be hard in such chaotic settings, let alone the effort of talking to a stranger.
This story doesn’t have a moral. It’s basically observations that hopefully make you feel less alone if you feel the same way at parks, pools, or the library. Let’s not take it as rejection if meeting a new mom doesn’t work out- it’s not personal. It’s survival, and sometimes it’s all we can do to be out in public.