Most adults are not strangers to the challenges of making new grown-up friends, and most parents are not immune to how complicated it can be to make new parent friends. Like, is this other mom really as awesome as she seems? Do our parenting philosophies really align as much as I think they do? Are our kids really going to be BFFs forever? It's enough to either drive you insane, or remind you of your pre-baby life, because there's no denying that playdates are exactly like adults dates.
Then again, somehow (probably because they involve children and playground politics are no joke) playdates have the potential to be even worse. So, I guess that horrific dating life you had pre-partner (if you have a parenting partner, which clearly is not a prerequisite or requirement) or pre-baby, kind of pays off. You're, um, welcome? I mean, I'm not saying you should call and thank an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend but, you know, that heartbreak wasn't for not. Win-win?
Personally, I just moved to a new neighborhood with a small park that seems to be a popular watering hole for all the local kids (and, in turn, their parents). Here, other moms will say hello and will ask about my kid, and actually make an effort to be friendly, which is lovely in a retro kind of way. Not that I’m complaining, I definitely see the value in making mom friends (I’m one of those ladies who looks forward to my moms group), but I can’t deny that when you’re in closer quarters, meeting mom friends and setting up playdates is shockingly similar to dating.
First Impressions Are Everything
I know, I know; it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Still, I can’t help but feel slightly self-conscious when I meet a seemingly awesome mom while wearing a shirt sprinkled with spaghetti sauce and stickers (my toddler’s top two love languages).
You Want To Ask About Their Medical History But You're A Little Scared To Bring it Up
How do you feel about vaccinations? Can we talk about STDs? How did you give birth and what was it like and would you like to discuss every single detail? All of the aforementioned questions kill potentially pleasant moods when you’re getting to know someone.
You’re Excited When The Other Person Makes The First Move
Perhaps I should be more bold when instigating playdates with other families, but I usually find myself waiting for the other person to do the asking. I don’t want to come off as needy, or desperate, and I can’t help but enjoy that rush that comes from hearing someone say, “Hey, we should get our kids together.”
Sometimes, Bodily Fluids Are Involved
I mean, not sure about you guys, but I’ve never let a few tears or a skinned knee (or whatever other fluid comes to your mind) ruin a play date. I can't say the same thing for actual dates, but that's another story for another day.
You’re Can't Help But Wonder About The Other Person’s Motives
The amount of time I’ve actually been pitched direct sales opportunities by other moms pales in comparison to the number of times I’ve wondered whether or not I was about to be pitched.
Playing Hard To Get, Like, Literally.
That old “play hard to get” advice is what I repeat to myself as I try to resist shouting at another mom about how much I like her and want to be friends with her. On the other hand, playing hard to get is really just another version of playing keep-away, which works for all ages when there’s literally a ball involved.
A Neutral Spot Often Works Best, Until You’re Ready To Share Your Dirty Laundry
In the context of dating, “dirty laundry” is the nitty gritty details of your past. In playdates? It’s legitimately the piles of laundry on the floor in almost every room or corner of your house.
Coffee Is Always A Good Idea, To Start...
It's delicious. It’s low commitment. It’s short. It helps you stay alert before you know whether or not you can totally trust the other person. What more could you ask for?
...And When You’ve Graduated To Food, You Know Things Are Getting Serious
In both dating and playdating, if a planned excursion involves food, you know you’re reaching a new level. I mean, seriously; if I’m ready to hang out with someone else and help supervise not one but two toddlers eating, you know we’re not messing around anymore.