When Tim and I got engaged in 1992 I officially left the dating world behind. At least until 1998 when I became the mama of a sweet baby girl. Then I entered the world of "Mom Dating" I live in an area where almost everyone has lived here since they were a zygote and married their kindergarten boyfriend. I actually have friends who are sisters and live next door to each other! We did not know a soul when we moved here 9 years ago so I have really had to make an effort to meet people. As much as I love my husband and enjoy doing things with him, I am a gal who loves her girlfriends. So my quest began. . .
It is amazing to me how similar my quest for gal pals has been to my search for Mr Right. You start with the obvious ways to meet~friends introduce you, church, work, neighbors. Though sometimes these tried-and-true ways produce the perfect new BFF, sometimes you need to go out a limb a bit more. So you put yourself in a target-rich environment. You know, those places where you can't turn around without tripping over a stroller~Target, the park, the mall, Borders at storytime. Here's how it plays out.
Spend all morning getting pretty wearing a new pair of gauchos and cute kitten heel flip-flops (why does a 1/2 inch heel make them so much dressier than beach wear?) Dress little girls in coordinating (not matching) Gap or Gymboree outfits, cute enough to illicit compliments but not too much that people point and laugh. The goal here is to look fun and cute but not perfect. A little baby puke on your shoulder is a perfect touch.
Head out to Borders for storytime~complete with double stroller, sippy cups, and enough packets of Goldfish to share. Arrive at least 5 minutes early so that if baby has explosive poo or barely-potty-trained toddler needs to visit the potty you have ample time.
Spend all of story time making mental judgments of the other mommies, focusing on the other ones who are their alone. Bonus points if their offspring appear to be same age and gender as your own. **Warning here~often the mom who appears to be the perfect match will say something that will totally turn you off the moment she opens her mouth. Something like, "Come along, Lucifer. It's time for your tarot card reading." Or "Are you hungry Raindrop? Mama has some organic tofu cubes for you!" So even if she's got on cute khakis and a comfy yet fashionable T-shirt, she might not be what she appears!
And there she is. **Imagine the hallelujah Chorus Playing here** Across the room you spot her, same gauchos as you (but with a cuter top), hair in a ponytail but make-up applied and earrings on. Nice stroller (not an Italian one) and two girls about the same age as yours! She looks to be alone and slightly frazzled by being out with 2 little girls but not so much that she stayed home. You sniff the baby and under the guise of changing a diaper, wiggle out early~it's "Giggle Giggle Quack" and your toddler knows it by heart anyway! Station yourself casually by the exit of the Kids Section.
Pounce. Compliment her, her kids, her gauchos, her hair~who cuts it? Anything to start a conversation. If all else fails, give your toddler an extra bag of Goldfish and say loudly, "Why don't you go share with that nice little girl over there, sweetie?" And hope she complies. Mom smiles and returns your compliment. "Your girls are so cute!" Play it cool. "Oh, them? I just picked 'em up in the parking lot. Hi, I'm Jen." Chit chat for a few minutes. "Our girls seem to be having fun. Would you like to get together at the park sometime so they could play?" Exchange numbers.
Get home and spend the next five hours obsessing over how soon is too soon to call your new BFF.
More next time on how to break up after a few playdates when she turns out to be really icky. Or how to turn girlfriend + husband into Couple Friends!