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There’s something to be said for the built-in community of moms that is suddenly there when you have school-age kids. As Sarah Fader noted in a recent article, high hopes abound.
When my children first entered elementary school, I was excited. It was time for them to make friends; friends they would see on a consistent basis who they would then schedule play dates with. In this idyllic life, I envisioned myself becoming best buddies with the parents of my kids’ newfound friends.
Unfortunately as she and many of us discover, it doesn’t always work out that way. The mean girls who plagued you in high school sometimes morph into the mean moms who group up on the sidewalk outside of school during drop off and pickup, resisting all attempts by others to engage them in casual banter. Your schedules might just be too crazy to make a connection possible. In some cases, your kids and their kids just plain don’t get along.
It’s true that the moms you meet when your kids start school can and probably will be a helpful resource. The ones in the know can help you stay on top of PTA meeting dates and school functions if you’re less than organized yourself, for example. What they might not be are your future friends.
It’s not necessarily that they aren’t nice people, but meeting mom friends through school or daycare is a crapshoot. Kind of like how you can be friendly with the work colleagues but not be friends, you can make valuable mom connections without making your new best mom friend.
For me, this idea was surprising because when it came to making mom friends as a new mother I had to easy. I took a prenatal fitness class with a bunch of moms due around the same time, and after my preemie was given the all clear to be around other people, those moms and I started walking together a couple of times a week. Circumstance led to us meeting, we all got along great, and we still make time for each other to this day.
Naturally I assumed that when we started the next phase of our family adventure it would work the same way. I’d meet another bunch of amazing moms whose kids were at the same age and stage, and we’d be thick as thieves.
Color me surprised when it didn’t work out that way at all! I found myself surrounded by acquaintances rather than friends. Nice women, for sure, but very few people I could call if I was having an emergency. No one I felt a deep connection with the way I bonded with my first mom friends.
I chalk some of it up to timing. Nearly everyone in my core group of mom friends was a first time mom when we met, so when we had our babies – all of whom presented challenges, from prematurity to colic to feeding issues – we clung together like drowning sailors. We weathered so many storms together for years before the busyness of life made weekly playdates challenging.
Those joy of those regular playdates, and the feeling of knowing that someone was right there with me going through all the same stuff, was part of what I was hoping to recapture, I think. I looked at my first entering kindergarten as the next frontier of friendship and assumed it would be easy.
As it turned out, I met some very cool, very interesting people that first year as a mom to a school age child. I watched that child form her own friendships on her own terms. And I realized that my core group of mom friends was still there even though we have kids at different schools and different activities and get togethers happen monthly now rather than weekly.
I guess I should have realized that no one said making mom friends (or keeping in touch with them) would be easy. They only said it would be worth it.