I wake up in my new house, in a new town, excited and anxious. I shower, get the kids ready, and load the stroller up with snacks, diapers, and all the things we may need for our outing. We make the short trek to the library where I hope she’ll be waiting, her own moderately priced stroller packed like mine with organic pretzel chips and refillable water bottles.
I’ve been eyeing her for two story times now, waiting for a chance to make my move. Her hair looks especially nice this morning, like she may have run her fingers through it a few times but mostly she just rolls out of bed looking ready for the day.
We sing our requisite songs, clap our hands, stomp our feet, shout hooray, and sit through two stories It’s finally the time when we can talk to one another. I’ve worn my yoga shirt and have my reusable shopping bag for carrying library books to demonstrate my worthiness. She smiles at me from across the room and I know it’s my chance. I take a few steps, rehearsing the nonchalant jokes I thought about on the walk. Just as I reach her that mom with the super curly hair and red leggings steps in front of me. That’s right, I’ve been Mom blocked.
Apparently, they have kids on the same soccer team. My kids aren’t old enough to play yet, damn! I stand there for a few minutes with a plastered on smile, waiting for my turn as curly haired mom goes on and on, occupying all her time. An awkward chuckle or mmm hmmm escapes my lips as I try to wedge myself into the conversation but alas, the baby starts crying. It’s almost naptime and I have to pee for the fifth time this morning. I’ll have to wait a whole nother week before I can try again. And that’s just the initial conversation. A couple more story times will have to happen before I can ask for her number unless my oldest decides to give me an assist and wants to play with her kid.
New to town, a stay-at-home mom, no associations yet to get me in- I think of the attempts I’ve already made. I think they can smell the desperation for friendship that goes before much like the stench of a dirty diaper on a toddler who eats yogurt exclusively.
I didn’t learn my lesson with the first mom, the one that does organic gardening for a living. After failed attempts at playdates and dinner invitations, someone should have probably stepped in and just told me “I don’t think she’s that into you.” Our kids will be starting kindergarten together next year. I’ll have to play it cool, demonstrate that the early days of stalker-like interest have passed.
Another mom that lives in the neighborhood walked by the other day and her son reported they were going to the park. “Ok, maybe we’ll see you there,” I said nonchalantly. As soon as they were out of sight it was a mad dash to collect our stuff, slap on my jogging shoes, and try not to sound breathless when we showed up there too. After a fun time playing, we walked back together and I waited to see if she’d make the move to exchange numbers. “We’ll knock on your door the next time we’re headed to the park,” she says as if anticipating all the friend plans I’m already formulating to avoid being alone in the house with tiny humans. “Ok, sure. We’re around,” I respond as coolly as I can. Because that’s cool. I’m cool. Everything’s cool. We’ll just be casual.
I went to a bar for the first time in half a decade the other night. My husband and I were out for our anniversary. Sitting amongst the partially inebriated, amid the din of conversations and hook-up attempts, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the bar scene and the mom of small kids at activities scene.
The days of trying to get drinks bought for me are long gone, (thank you, hubs) but the attempts at some kind of human connection persist. Those self-conscious feelings involved in initiating a romantic relationship are there in trying to make adult friends too. The struggle of finding the perfect moment to ask for her phone number is real. I have a new appreciation for the 21-year-old males I encountered in young adulthood. Take heart, fellas. There’s a number out there for you. Just play it cool.