14 March 2013

Park Friends

The neighborhood I live in is full of couples with babies. You can't look out your window without seeing someone pushing a stroller, that's how many young children there are. A lot of the couples seem to be in their mid thirties or older and are very career oriented.

There's a great park right around the corner from me and though it's mostly desolate now because it's winter, it's jam packed in the spring/summer and on nice days. I talk about it in my blog posts all the time, because that's pretty much Natalie and I's second home.

Before Natalie was even old enough to play there, I observed how intimidating it seemed to be there with all the other moms and nannies.

Most the moms are at the least somewhat put together, more so than me on any given day. They are all tall and thin and wear sunglasses and don't have clothes with holes in them on. I wear raggedy workout clothes that I almost never end up exercising in, no make up, my hair in a sloppy bun and I'm still 20 lbs heavier than I was pre-pregnancy.

I overhear conversations they have with each other about how they want to teach their children a second language and a lot of the kids there already do speak another language. I think that's really awesome, but it makes me feel like I have to do the same thing.

Everyone appears to always be there with a friend or a group of friends and I don't know a single soul aside from my baby. Occasionally someone will give me a smile and say hello but that's usually the extent of my interaction with other adults.

 Don't get me wrong, I like talking to other people when there's a connection, but if there is even an attempt on someone else's behalf to talk to me it usually goes nowhere. I've gone through the same old skit time and time again that I just stopped trying to care. I usually get one worded replies like this: "Awww, how old is your little one!? Answer: "X amount of months." Silence.

Maybe that's my fault. Maybe I am supposed to be more engaging and interesting.

I have had a handful of moms who were nice and chatted me up and I loved it. It made me want to hug them on the spot and invite them over for a glass of wine.  I've never seen any of them again though.

The only people who are always friendly and talkative are the rare, random grandparents. They are the nicest people. They ask a bunch of questions about your kid and just chat you up. They tell you how great it is being a grandparent, where they're from, how long they're visiting for and are just overall so sweet.

Maybe I should be the one to take the initiative and be that way with other moms but they just don't seem approachable.

You can vibe out who is down to earth and who is just stuck up. Sometimes I feel like I'm in high school again. Maybe I'm being completely insecure but I truly feel like when I walk away from an area with a group of moms they start talking about me.

Like today, a woman out of the blue asked if Natalie was mine, to which I obviously said yes, with a smile on my face. She just stared into my eyes for a few seconds, like she was judging the depths of my soul and then looked away. It was so uncomfortable.

I know you're probably thinking I'm over analyzing things and that the park is for children and all about them, to which I completely agree. For now I'm alright with focusing on entertaining my kid. I do love playing with her exploring new things together.

The older a kid gets though the more independent they become and eventually Natalie will do her own socializing and playing with other children. I'd like to have some park friends myself while she does. I don't like feeling left out.

This is one of the dumbest non-issue issues I've ever faced but I wanted to put it out there anyway.

What do you think about making friends with other parents/moms? Is is something that comes easy, or do you find it as impossible as I do?

18 Thoughts :

Shannon March 14, 2013 at 8:23 AM  

Sadly, b/c I work during the day and Tay was too little last summer, I haven't had to experience it, but I feel like I can totally get where you're coming from.

Park Politics. It's like a tv drama with a see-saw.

Hilary @ Peanut Butter Spoonfuls March 14, 2013 at 8:32 AM  

You are not alone in feeling this way! I'm always amazed at how unfriendly some of the moms are in our various mommy/baby classes. I just keep thinking, aren't they all basically here to socialize too? They can't really get that much out of just watching their kid roll some balls around on a mat. It took us going to the same class with the same group for a loooong time before all the moms got friendly with each other. Turns out, for the most part, no one is mean and snobby, everyone was just keeping to themselves. I say go out and strike up conversations and if the other moms act b*tchy then screw them, there will be nice ones some time!

Sarah March 14, 2013 at 10:15 AM  

I feel like this has changed for me over the years. When I first had Drew I wasn't that outgoing and more intimidated, but now, I'm the complete opposite. I strike up conversations left and right. I can tell right away if I click with another mom and then try to keep the conversation going. I think people worry they are being overly aggressive with other moms but you aren't! If you have a good conversation, let them know you'd love to get the kiddos together again! But yeah, I agree with Hilary that if they are just bitches, forget them. :)

Venassa March 14, 2013 at 10:49 AM  

You're definitely not alone. I don't have mom friends at all, and it's hard to even talk with most of them. I did meet a really nice mom at a play place once, but then her baby ran off and that was the end. It's so true though that the grandparents are so much friendlier. I talked to a grandmother once for about 15 minutes while the babies were on the swings. Never with a mom.
That mom that you mentioned from today sounds super weird. Who asks if a child is yours? When Chloe's old enough to play alone, I'll be that awkward mother watching from a distance reading a book or something. I'm awkward.

Megan March 14, 2013 at 10:56 AM  

This is something I've dealt with for 6 years.

I had Kayla when I was 20. We enrolled her in a preschool that was from 9:30-130. Obviously you had to be a sahm for that. So when I went to pick her up or for concerts or what have you I felt the same way you did. I so wanted to connect with other moms but I just didn't. They all drove brand new mini vans and went to the gym while their child was at preschool. Uhh hello? I can't afford a gym membership that includes daycare. A mom invited Kayla over for a playdate because our daughters were bf's. I hung out at her house, felt uncomfortable but we talked and got along. Then a few weeks later we got together for a playdate with some of the other kids from their class and that same mom I just went to her house and we didn't talk at all! I said hello and tried to talk but I was completely left out. All these other moms were older than me....and I seemed to be the only one running around chasing my younger child.

And I have noticed a HUGE difference if I take all three out or if I have just Kyleigh and Kinsley. People talk to me and are nice. I don't feel judged with just the 2 of them. But if I bring Kayla??? I feel judged and looked at. So, I know it's just not me. It HAS to be them. It's the same way at her school now...everyone is a lot older than me. I figure my time will come when Kinsley is in school....maybe Kyleigh.

I don't have any suggestions because I'm like you...I just sit and interact with my girls. Sometimes I look for someone like me...sitting alone and try to interact, it just doesn't happen. Oh well, whatever. lol.

Sean Marie March 14, 2013 at 11:09 AM  

Hahahaha... "I'll be that awkward mother watching from a distance reading a book or something." Yes. That's going to be me.

I think the lady asked if Natalie is mine because she thought I looked young. Once a nanny with no filter asked the same question and then said, "But you look so young!" not as a compliment. It's kinda rude. I would never go up to someone and say, "That's your kid? But you look so old!"

Sean Marie March 14, 2013 at 11:34 AM  

Exactly! If you don't drive an expensive car and wear nice clothes then you don't fit in.

I know just how you feel!

Krista March 14, 2013 at 12:12 PM  

It is HARD! I have felt the same way you do, and mine are older so they are off running around and I am left to look like a wallflower with no one to talk to...sigh. I'm a more reserved person so I need that chatty mom to help bring out some conversation.

Kristin March 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM  

I could have written this post! Making mom friends has been SO HARD! I have been in the exact same situation at the playground where I try to talk and get zero back. The nicest people I have met seem to be babysitters or the grandparents as you said! Too bad we don't live in the same area lady because I think we would be having playdates and wine time together a lot :)

Sean Marie March 14, 2013 at 2:01 PM  

Yes, me too!

Shannon March 14, 2013 at 2:13 PM  

The park close to our house is hit or miss when it comes to other moms being there because I really only have time to take Hunter on the weekends. Last weekend when Kristian and I took H we started talking with another couple there who have an 8 month old son. They were very nice and I would totally hang out with them again but we didn't exchange numbers and that always seems to happen when I actually do talk to another mom. I feel stupid asking for their number or to hang out, like I'm hitting on them or something. I can't remember what part of NoVA you live in but maybe we could meet up for a playdate. I promise not to be all judgy. haha

Sean Marie March 14, 2013 at 4:39 PM  

Absolutely! Shoot me an email, I don't see an email address on your blog.

Ali March 15, 2013 at 1:04 AM  

I really believe that I'm better off spending time alone than with people that will just annoy the shit out of me! I have always been that way, though. Which makes me picky about the people I spend time with. Which ultimately means a lot of alone-ish time. So in that sense, it's sometimes hard for me to find people to hang out with on a regular basis, even more so friends with kids who are at home during the days!

Ali March 15, 2013 at 1:04 AM  

Oh and I sent that last comment too early - but I absolutely love (and miss) all the park-story blogs. :) Looking forward to spring, summer & fall! Woo!

Unknown March 16, 2013 at 6:13 PM  

I totally know what you are saying. My kids don't seem to have trouble playing with anyone at the park but me, socializing, some just don't look approachable. Out of my league I guess. Now when hubs goes, he can talk to anyone about anything. I'm not like that.

Marjorie March 17, 2013 at 6:36 PM  

I could have written this word for word, just no nannies. All the moms in my area are older than me like mid thirties. I'm always the loaner on the playground. I use the same age question to try to start convo and nothing. But, I have found the free library story time as a way to meet moms. At first sand problem, but I kept going and going and now I'm starting to know people.

Susannah March 17, 2013 at 11:40 PM  

I nannyed for a while and was definitely left out of other mom/nanny conversations. I don't really know what the difference was. :-( I hope you make some park friends, dear!

ana March 21, 2013 at 12:36 AM  

I find it impossible... mostly because of my social awkwardness and fear of being judged on parenting skills.. Oh ya, and because going to parks just gives me social anxiety all together. Lol.. but I go.. because my little loves going :)