Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mommy Cliques

I was speaking with a mom friend the other day who commented on how she felt like she was back in high school, and I fully understood. Here we are, two "later" moms in our 40s, feeling like we're 16 again, wanting to be liked. Holding on to old/existing/close friendships, yet yearning to connect with other moms in our local area for playdates, lunch, etc.

We've got many years experience on the work and personal front behind us, yet now we feel like we're backpedaling in the mom friendship department.

What is that about? Has that happened to you?

Case in point....

I was at McDonald's earlier this week with Seth. We are far from regulars there, but he was craving a Happy Meal toy and loves playing in their climbing maze.

We went there for lunch, and after eating, I parked myself on a bench in the outdoor area while Seth befriended some other children and ran around, having a great time. I had brought with me a supply of magazines and my Blackberry, so I could stay plugged in to emails (yes...I'm obsessed) and catch up on some reading.

Two moms entered the play area, one of whom I knew from the neighborhood. Our children had both gone to the same nursery school, and we've had some casual encounters since at local parks. She said "hi" and proceeded to look around for a place to sit with her friend, when there were two seats on the bench beside me. For the moment, it felt as if she ideally wanted to sit somewhere else, but since other seats weren't available, she opted to join me. She was polite enough and introduced me to her friend, but my instinct told me she wasn't looking for my company. I tried not to take it personally. Afterall, it wasn't our playdate. But, it made me very conscious of the notion of mom cliques, and how great it is to have a local, fellow mom buddy to pal around with and without the kids.

Another pair of moms came into the McDonald's play area with their kids, and after they were done, one said to the other, "I'll speak with you tomorrow."

I have to admit...I felt a pang of jealousy. While I don't want for friends, and have some close ones I treasure, many don't live near me, some are single, others work so aren't readily available, etc.

It takes a lot to be in sync with someone, and making new friends is never the easiest. Especially if you are seeking relationships with some level of depth, which I've always appreciated.

I just never expected to be thinking about this at this stage in my life.

Some of the moms I've met, I've noticed, who already have a mom social circle, have children older than Seth, so they've already had the opportunity to meet through school and other outlets. And, they may also have a close family, which makes a difference too.

My friend Debbie whose two kids are older than Seth tells me that it will get easier over time, as Seth chooses his own friends. And, perhaps I can get involved with the PTA. I'm certainly open to that option.

This is not to say that I haven't met any moms whose company I enjoy. I have. And certainly, starting has helped. But, it takes time to cement real friendships. I would welcome more of that into my life....for both Seth and me.

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Blogger naomicatgirl said...

Oh, could you be talking to / about me! I take my sons to school at a nearby synagogue preschool/kindergarten. It's a scene. They all know each other, and are not interested in anyone new (we're new this year). And, of course, i'm at least 5 years older then most of them. It's not the nicest place for me to be. But my sons like it. That keeps me going!

4:55 PM  
Blogger mel- said...

I can relate too... We are two year transplants to Manhattan plus I am a decade older than most every Mom I know here...

So many of the other Moms I meet have well established mommy friendships (from college years or even earlier).

There are days when I wonder what it would be like to live back in my hometown with my old friends...

8:51 AM  
Blogger Stacey said...

I couldn't agree more.... For me, I think it has been a bit more pronounced... this isolation thing... in part because over a 4 year period I moved from NYC to the suburbs and became a mom. I can't really participate in my NYC based social life anymore.

Also, I think figuring out who is a "real friend" is harder b/c so many moms feel isolated... and will talk to the UPS guy if it means some adult interaction.

8:24 AM  
Blogger M.E. VanWalleghan said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. Funny, I thought in my imaginings that in a more urban setting somehow things would be different. I live in rural Arizona and am new to the town where I live. I have pined for NYC where I thought I would have more connection to moms my age, alas I see this in not the case. Why is there so much isolation in motherhood?

11:26 PM  
Blogger minorchordmood said...

You're not sitting alone outside the Mommy Cliques. I became a mom at 40 and frankly, I didn't feel the pull to connect with the mommy-and-me groups. For one thing, we adopted our daughter (when she was a year old) from a foreign country. My experience of becoming a mother was simply different. Add to that, I'm an artist and I cherish every moment I can steal to be creative. Of course, none of those things are on my mind when I would see other moms sharing a laugh at the local coffee place. It felt so awkward to run into moms I recognized from my daughter's preschool because I didn't know their name and they didn't know mine either. I thought, "I should try harder" but when the moments came up, I usually found a reason to blend into the background. That is exactly what I did in high school.

So, five years later, I joined the PTA and jumped head first into the "social mom" world at my daughter's new school. A fresh start, only, I still feel disconnected most of the time. The PTA experience has been stressful. I think this is because I am older and as such, I have a long, professional background that the other stay-at-home moms do not. I was shocked that many of them didn't know how to use a computer. Everything about the group dynamic was awkward for me, so I just tried to be a light-hearted observer to make others feel comfortable. This just left me feeling even more isolated. When I would listen to them talk about the mundane things they do with their spare time (hang out with more moms at the mall), I would plaster a smile on my face. On the inside, I couldn't wait for the meeting to be over.

I've since decided that if I felt at all stimulated by spending time with these people, I would find a way to fit in. The truth is, the mommy clique is not my cup of tea. They like to gossip--I don't. They like to see each other every day, I don't want to see anybody (except my family) that often. They belong to the same gym and work out together...I would rather take a brisk walk around the block and take pictures of trees.

So there you go. I am exactly the same as I was in high school...only better. Because now, I'm not questioning myself for being more comfortable as an independent woman. That's just the way it is.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Just another day in paradise said...

I admit that I'm blessed. My dad moved us a lot growing up, so I don't have those "long term" friendships that most folks do (especially in a rural area like I live in).

Although I've tried hard to volunteer and be active in the school stuff, I still feel a little left out of the cliques. However, it doesn't bother me anymore. I take something interesting to do. Sometimes, it catches their interest and they'll begin talking to me because they are curious. Otherwise, I'm pretty much left alone.

I do, however, help when needed. I send cards to folks that are sick. I make food when someone has a baby. However, because of my age and interests, I just don't fit in.

My sister and I grew up under the same conditions, but as an adult, she feels the need to have a large group of very close personal friends. She's very social.

So, as a result of moving a lot growing up, it just affected us differently. I am secure in myself and enjoy doing things and being very active...on the go all the time. When I have to sit (like when my 3 year old is climbing at McD playplace) I have a "to go" art/craft bag that is ready in a wink to work on something.

I would just suggest that you make the first move. If it doesn't work out, then find something you are passionate about, make it portable, and enjoy your art time while your child enjoys the climb time.

5:00 AM  

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