I’ve been trying to meet other mums for, well, two years. And I’ve come to realize something: Meeting mums is exactly like dating.
1) In order to meet mums/men, one has to make oneself available. You simply must put yourself out there. In the case of men, this means going to places where menfolk hang out. Pubs, sporting events, laundromats and political science classes are all acceptable places. Sewing circles and DIY wedding cake classes? Not so much.
In the case of mums, this of course means going to *shudder* circle time, playgroups, the kids’ section of a bookstore, or the park. Trying to meet another mum in, say, your family room is just not going to work. She’s not there.
2) Or is she? As with dating, the online arena cannot be overlooked as a potential site for finding other mums. Twitter, MeetUp, and mum blogs are an enormously helpful source for many stranded stay-at-homers.
Unfortunately, just as with men, the internet is tricky business. People have an uncanny knack for misrepresenting themselves online. I understand the temptation, but come on. When I meet you in person, you aren’t going to have the guitar to cover up the mustard stained shirt you never remove, or the good lighting that helped cover up your recently toked eyes. You also aren’t going to be flexing (presumably).
In the mum arena, this misrepresentation is a little trickier to tease out. Everyone seems so nice and friendly and interested in your LO (this means ‘little one’. I never use this phrase, in part because Budsie isn’t exactly little and in part because it sounds cheesy. I also don’t refer to him as my DS (darling son), because this too sounds a little heavy on the cheese). One obvious hint that something might be amiss: the mum in question asks you probing questions and manages to one-up you each time. If your kid smiled at 3 months, hers smiled at 3 days. If yours says four words, hers says 40. She might even go so far as to suggest that her 6 month old is toilet trained (he isn’t). This person is what I like to refer to as a ToxicMum and you must avoid meeting her, just as you would avoid going on the date with the guy who wore sunglasses, a bad spray tan, and posed, flexing, next to his muscle car.
3) When you spot a potential partner/mumfriend, you have to strike up a conversation. Here is where the wheels fall off for me. Not with the menfolk, mind you. When I was dating, I never had issues striking up a little chitchat with a handsome fellow. I’m no supermodel, but I always figured that when it came to dudes, if they weren’t interested it was their loss and someone else would be. What’s the worst they could say? No. Meh. Plus the final prize is the possibility of sex, so the odds of a positive response are much higher.
With mums, this striking up a conversation business terrifies me, surprising no one who knows how troubling I find crowds of women generally speaking. I have female friends, certainly, but I’ve met nearly all of them in classes (where one on one is possible) or whilst drinking (thank you, second year university). What do I worry about? Well, what if the mum in question is a total crazypants? What if she constantly compares our kids? What if she’s mean to her own kids? What if she’s anti-choice? What if she’s one of those uber-judgmental mums, making snide comments about people who only have one stroller? What if she asks how much I weigh and then gets mad at me for weighing less than she does (laugh all you want – I’ve had a strange mother do this)? You see my dilemma. And the only prize here is my friendship. Not quite as appealing as sex.
Of course talk to them I must. And I do. But I have yet to find the right transition phrasing that gets me from “Hey, how old is your little dude?” to “Hey, how’d you like to meet up at the park sometime?” It seems that picking up mums is not my forte.
What I really need is a place I can post a personal ad: “Stay-at-home mum of toddler seeks same. Enjoys coffee, talking politics, and park dates. Dislikes crowds and pessimistic folk. Judgey McJudgeymothers need not apply.”