It takes a lot for women to make friends. It does for me, at least. Always has.
In third grade, the girl I always thought was my best friend paid “the new girl” two whole dollars to play with me. Her name was Susan.
I overheard the whole thing. The transaction between my friend and Susan in the bathroom. They didn’t know I was in there, in stall #3 peeing with my feet up, so no one would notice my white Keds and pink socks with the pom-poms on the heel. So no one would laugh at the tinkle sound I made when I peed. I was so afraid of being ridiculed. Because in those days I was ridiculed for everything.
I pretended that I didn’t know anything about what happened. I played with Susan on the playground. We did laps around the grass area and talked about her old school and I waited until I got home to cry.
Knowing that my friendship was worth the sum of a shitty hot lunch from
the cafeteria was something I never really got over. Even when I became
popular in High School there was always a looming feeling of outcast.
There was always a chance I could be sold again to the hypothetical
new girl. I was always skeptical of friendships. Defensive. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.
After all, friendships made between teenagers and children have more to do with geography than anything else. I have a couple of friends I still speak to but most of them disappeared after graduation. That’s kind of what happens– The ebb and flow of convenience.
Friendships made between new mothers are very much the same. They are not friendships built on connection but rather, geography and age of children. Play dates seldom happen between three-month and three-year olds who live hours away. Not usually.
I have met dozens of amazing friends (who are also parents) online. I
presume, many of you who are reading now. But it isn’t so easy in the
real world. The Internet is a great place to meet, but it’s a
relationship unfulfilled. There are no virtual playdates. No double-kisses. No whispering.
For almost two years I tried to meet mothers I liked. Women I liked, separate from the fact they were mothers. I’ve gone to the classes. And sing-a-longs. And the park. Mommy-and-Me and Baby Disco and storytime at the library but I was never able to meet anyone with anything I had real things in common with besides being a mother. And for me that just wasn’t enough.
I met Charlotte last Fall. Her son, Jackson is Archer’s age and we started making frequent play dates when she moved to my neighborhood several months ago. She was local. And her son was the same age. And she was cool. Someone I felt comfortable with. She soon became my closest mommyfriend, and we met several times a week for play dates and Pinkberry runs and evening strolls around the sprinkler-saturated residential blocks of Hancock Park.
Yesterday, while we were texting each other back and forth about fishnet stockings and patent leather Mary-Janes, it occured to me that I didn’t just make a mommyfriend, I made a friend and that indeed, there is a difference. I realized that there was a lot more to being with her than giving Archer a playmate. That she was someone I really felt comfortable with. Someone I confided in. Confessed to. Wanted to meet up with on the weekends with or without our sons. Someone I talked with about everything, from dark secrets to fashion advice. Someone who I had something in common with besides the fact we both had toddler sons and lived within walking distance.
It’s rough out there. For city mothers and suburban mothers and country mothers I’m sure. No matter where you are and how popular you were in high school or college or at work, it is difficult to make new friends. It’s tough to cross the line between mommyfriend and “friend.” To trust someone you met on a message board or in a mommy-and-me class enough to put your feet down in stall #3, to risk being sold to Susan for $2.00 or whatever.
But when you finally break through that barrier? It’s pretty cool.
Because although I haven’t made many mommyfriends, since having Archer, I feel very lucky to have found a friend.