When you have a child there are so many new things you have to brave.
Purchasing the right strollers and car seats.
Deciding whether to breast or bottle feed.
What pacifiers and bottles to use (I remember when I was pregnant and doing my baby registry, my mom could not believe what went on – “Rachel, there’s an entire wall of nipples! What could be so different???”)
And then…there are the mommy dates.
Don’t kid yourself. Making mommy friends is exactly like dating. There are lunches, dinners, sometimes even booze. You feel each other out. Decide how much you have in common and if it’s enough to create conversation on a regular basis before committing. Pretty much the only difference is that you don’t have to put out. Not even on the 3rd date. The other difference is that the majority of these dates come with little chaperones.
Yep, takes “double dating” to a whole new level when your kids are in tow. It means things like: having to quickly leave a public place because of a major melt down. Or realizing the reason your kids have been so quiet under the restaurant table is because they are having a picnic complete with eating french fries off the floor (And I don’t need peanut gallery comments as to why they were allowed under the table to begin with. They were behaving and being super quiet and that was good enough reason after a long day). And after said picnic incident, both mommies mutually agree it’s better to keep the playdates in our homes with pizza and plates.
Similar to a double date in the grown-up world, everyone has to like each other for it to work. No girlfriend or wife wants to hang out with her significant other’s friend if their other half sucks. Save those friends for boy’s night. Mommies have to like the other mommies and the kids have to be able to hold it together without melting down because someone is hogging the pink crayon.
With exception to a year and a half stint where I wasn’t in a traditional full-time job, I have always worked and therefore had full-time help for my child, so I don’t really have a ton of face-time with other moms. In NYC, I made one mommy friend – my blonde bestie, Jenni. But we skipped the courting because there was already history and moved right into a hot and heavy relationship. She was a friend dating back to Kindergarten and although we had lost touch over teen & adult years, the magic of Facebook reunited us and made us fall in love all over again. Thankfully our kids played well together, and by well I mean mine bossed hers around and she took it like a champ. Match made in heaven. She was the PERFECT mommy relationship. We based our time together largely on what we were going to eat. She didn’t judge me when all my child would eat was goldfish and drinkable yogurt and I didn’t judge her when hers enjoyed a band-aid skillfully dug out of the sandbox in an Upper East Side park. That’s the key. No judgement. Because let’s be honest, while I value my friend’s opinions, I don’t want a passive aggressive lecture about my child’s eating habits or where she should be developmentally or how I should sleep train her for the 10th time.
A good mommy friend is going to be my friend regardless of how many nights I allow my child to climb into my bed to sleep (which is pretty much every night).
Jenni was by far one of the hardest things about leaving NYC. She was my go-to for not only everything city related (she’s an expert who even haggles over balloon prices at overpriced retail stores…and wins), but she was my go-to mommy friend.
When I moved back to Florida, I found solace in the fact that not only would I be closer to family, but I had an excellent head-start on creating my momiverse. Growing up in “the Dirty”, I still had my fair share of dearest friends down here and we were all pretty much on similar time lines – all were married. or divorced, or remarried, and a bunch with kids. However, South Florida is a little trickier because everyone lives in different areas and it’s not always so easy to coordinate. Regardless, I was happy to know I already had a more than solid beginning to my social network. Being divorced does throw a little wrench in the plans because while I might get tons of invites to do kid-friendly things, I didn’t always have my child. My friends always do the polite thing and invite me anyway, but I usually decline. I love my friends, and their kids, but if I don’t have mine, I sure as hell don’t wanna hang out with yours. Nothing personal. And it’s not even to have a big night out. Sometimes I just wanna go to Publix or Target by myself, eat cheese and crackers for dinner and lay in bed solo watching Breaking Amish.
When Ava started school, I knew I would be privy to a whole new set of moms. The problem is that a huge majority of the moms at our school didn’t work full-time. So they would plan breakfasts and lunches to socialize. Not ideal. However, the first year of school, I got super lucky and made a group of friends who not only evaded the Boca mom stereotype, but I actually liked them enough to hang out socially, with AND without kids. And our kids liked each other – BONUS. So my wolfpack grew. Over the next couple of years, as classes changed and our kids didn’t always get placed together, there was a natural ebb and flow of friendship amongst the mommies. And during that second year, I went back to work full-time. It was in those times I learned which friends fit easily and seamlessly into my life, and me into theirs.
The friend who would rather show up in my house in pajamas sans makeup for movie night with the kids instead of makeup and Loubs to hit Atlantic Ave. The friend who opts to go a family friendly restaurant so the kids can be kids instead of getting a sitter to have an adult dinner somewhere they only have cloth napkins. The friend who comes over and pops a bottle of wine while the girls play dress-up instead of popping bottles in SoBe (Let’s get serious…I wouldn’t do that anyway. If you already don’t know my feelings on the Miami scene, let’s just say I’d rather have a pap smear in front of a public audience). THOSE are the friends I want around me and those are the ones I have.
And my child being an only child makes the mommy dating thing even more important because she ALWAYS wants a playdate, a buddy to mull around with. Good mompanions will not only be ok with you asking for plans last-minute, but also ditching them because you’re exhausted, or your kid is a rag and in no condition to be around people.
A big theme of my life post-divorce was only surrounding myself with people who accept me for me and love me unconditionally. And that includes the mommies. I think in Boca particularly, there is an immense pressure to keep up with the Joneses, and that includes the moms you choose to hang out with. Let me be clear, I don’t give a shit about the Joneses. I don’t care about the cars they drive. The country club they belong to. Where they are on the hierarchy of moms at a school. If you are 100% REAL (except boobs. I’ll accept fake boobs without judging you), that’s what I’m interested in. Others need not apply.