Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Making New Mom Friends

I'll admit, I am not the fastest person to warm up to new people.  Whether it's the Seattle Freeze Social Disease or my "discerning" (sometimes intense) disposition, it can be difficult for me to start friendships.

For a year now, I have been orbiting within several parent groups, including the Stay-At-Home Mom Meetup Group, Swedish Hospital new moms group, Stroller Strides, Nurturing Pathways classes, library story time, co-op infant preschool & PEPS.  (Note: I'm not doing all this extra-curricular stuff in hopes of getting a scholarship, we NEED to have things to look forward to during the day and a forcing-function to get out of the house.)  All of these groups are populated with bright, conscientious, well-meaning moms--and I can't help but feel insecure sometimes.

There's a tentative dance of trying to share with someone new what you care about or why you're special without bragging or sounding pompous--while making sure they get enough time to tell you what they care about and why they're special.  Couple this "tango" with trying to keep an eye on a roving, toy-snatching toddler and my tango ends up feeling like a break dance battle with several instances of having to leave the dance floor.  It really halts the flow and momentum of connecting with another adult.  And my memory is not what it once was so the next time I see that lovely lady I'm trying to become friends with, I may very well ask her the same questions about things I should already know (retain) about her.  It makes me seem like I'm not listening and that's just not the case.

All parents have to strike this balance, so everyone understands.  But while meeting other moms (potential friends) is great, what it really comes down to now is the kids.  We know there's a biological imperative for the success of the offspring to be well socialized and to understand how society functions.  That means kids need exposure to others and that means mommy has to get over whatever social awkwardness followed her out of high school and get out there.  

I think I just have to come to terms with the distinction of  "friends who have kids" and "friends because of kids".  The people who knew me before I made formula, changed diapers and became an expert on sippy cups have a perspective of how radical the stay-at-home-mom role is for me.  Also, the fact we all have kids now, is just another topic that we can talk about in addition to the crazy sh*t we used to do during high school/college/work or milking goats.  But for the folks who met me just a year ago on, trying to explain who I was before baby is like trying to explain a dream.  It has little/no relevance to this reality and the more detail I recount, the less sense I make.  So the desire of representing myself as a complete person, sidelines when I so easily fall into conversations about nap schedules, solid food feeding and baby travel advice.  That's what we tend to talk about.  And why not?  It's the focus of our lives right now.  The complete and utter focus.  But I digress.

Making mom friends, based on our "mutual momminess," is something I truly hope to get better at.  Until then, I hope I don't offend any mommies out there if my intensity and lack of remembering personal facts.


Melanie said...

You know how at work they always talk about the "elevator speech" - the 30 second thing you say to hook people into being interested in your company or whatever? I feel like mom life is about trying to condense your existence into some kind of 10 second haiku kind of statement. Like...Melanie, make big move, family is satisfying, so is bacon. I think it makes everyone feel socially akward like you say...but you are right about it kind of just being what it is. I think that is why I enjoy blog stalking and late night phone calls so much:)

Margaret Bennett Back said...

Hi Kali - Margaret, Ken's friend from OC here. Was on LinkedIn - ended up here, gotta love the internet....
So with you on the person I was before kids. It is an amazing transformation we do. My little lady is now 7, the little man is now 3 but I am still in awe of the changes to friends, time, focus, thought processes once those cute little buggers jump into our lives. ;-) You write very well - I like your style. I am not a huge blog reader but I will come back to more wisdom from Kali.. Tell Ken I said hi.