Summer is almost over. Most moms are up to their eyeballs in lists: school shopping, doctor appointments, cramming in that last bit of vacation fun. Some of us are sad to see summer break winding down while others are more of the “sweet baby Jesus please get these freakin’ kids out of my house before I completely lose my crap” frame of mind.
Our darlings are ready to go to school, to learn, meet new people and make new friends. Or maybe we just think that because we are ready for their noisy video game playing, mess-making, when-are-we-going-to-the-poooool whining little asses to get out of our house for seven glorious hours a day.
But what about us? Are we ready to take on the carpool moms, the pushy PTA bitches and the room mother volunteer mafia? Are we going to be able to make nice, get along and not cause our children to become the social pariahs of the elementary school birthday party circuit?
Here are a few nuggets of advice on building mom friendships from an introverted mother with mediocre social skills:
1. Get out of your car
I know…kicking their delicate butts out of their warm, fluffy beds, forcing them to eat, and getting them loaded in the people mover without forgetting lunchboxes, sports equipment, permission slips, overdue library books and whatever crap they’re taking for show and tell might feel like an Olympic sport…in fact, it probably should be. You stop in the drop-off lane just long enough for your kiddos to jump out and then you’re on to whatever else that promises to eat up all the hours in the day.
This can be tricky for working moms. If you can arrange your schedule to visit during an awards assembly or the book fair (both which are sure to be thinly disguised obnoxious fundraisers), you will be putting yourself in prime position to meet other moms in their natural habitat. If you’re a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom, trolling the hallowed halls for mom friends is a little easier…just make sure you have on pants before you get out of the car.
2. Smile and make eye contact
This is ironic advice coming from me, the woman who has perfected the resting bitch face. I’m a nice person…mostly. I don’t hate people although I’ve been told plenty of times over the years that my facial expression doesn’t invite conversation and frightens small children.
“You’re really such a cool person, Jill,” said one of my gal pals. “I mean…who would have ever thought?”
Me: “Say what?”
Her: “Well, you know how you always have that look on your face…”
Her: “Well, you know. The one that looks like you just discovered a huge pile of dog shit on your shoe.”
Oh right. That look. If you suffer from resting bitch face, you know you have to sometimes make that extra effort to look like the nice person you know you really are. But seriously, if you’re scowling or standing in the corner looking at your shoes…let me tell you, my sister: that’s not conducive to making mom friends. Smile and nod, bitches. Smile. And. Nod.
3. Birds of a feather…
A year ago, my advice would have been to seek out the mom that sort of looks like you. If I ran across a mom wearing running clothes carrying a blended coffee drink from Starbucks whose phone had an Eminem ringtone…well, I’d say that might be someone I might want to hang with because common interests.
Ironically, my mom BFF from my kid’s class last year is year a heavily tattooed woman 20 years my junior. She does not drink coffee or run and some of her outfits make me cringe. We don’t have much in common other than vaginas…but she’s the one I always gravitate to at school events and birthday parties. I’m not sure why we clicked and so far, it’s kind of a superficial relationship, but it’s nice to have a buddy. Yeah, there’s something to be said for finding friends that share your interests, but sometimes, people surprise you, so give them a chance, hmmm?
4. Get the digits
It’s one thing to make small talk with the mom standing next to you at an awards assembly but something else entirely to take it to the next level. If you’re looking for polite civility at birthday parties or a weary wave of recognition from the driver’s seat of your minivan, then you can coexist with the other moms by being reasonably polite and not pissing off the queen bee room mother who thinks she’s important. She’s the one with the clipboard and the pinched expression and her favorite conversation opener is “can’t you just.” (Stay far, far away from that bitch, by the way.) But if you’re interested in the mom you can have a sidebar conversation with at the birthday party about how OTT the gift bags are or someone you can really talk to about non-motherhood topics – they do exist, you know – then take a deep breath and pass that note with the “wanna be my friend?” checkbox.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Our kids are starting fresh this autumn: making new connections and broadening their world.
Maybe we should, too.