Making mum friends

Hard to believe it, but yesterday marked a month since our arrival. This week, my mother will return to the States, and so our settling in phase will make way for real life here, on our own. Which means: I probably have to make some friends. Otherwise, when G or C have those fun times where they lie down on the floor screaming, I may just get down and join them.

Usually, groups of women make me extremely uncomfortable. This is either the lingering effect of having grown up with all brothers and mostly male cousins, or some leftover high school trauma I still haven’t sorted out. And I like the friends I’ve had since before babies, because how can you form sentences or get to any interesting conversation when you are constantly dashing off to make sure someone doesn’t hurl themselves off the playscape? Plus, these friends knew me when I didn’t wear bad clothes, supportive shoes, or my hair in a bun on a daily basis. They knew me when I had a job and talked to adults.

But if you move, you have to leave people behind. The last place I lived in —after tearfully departing L.A. and the friends who nursed me through pregnancy and whose babies I was among the first to hold– had a mother’s group. Reluctantly, I joined. Through it I met C., and also S. C. had organized a group of moms with similarly-aged children. C, L, J, and D were the core group of us that tried to meet up on Thursdays and do something. Bit by bit, we got to know each other, and I left feeling sad. If we had stayed, perhaps some would have deepened into real and lasting friendships.

Here, though, it’s like I am thrust back into the awkwardness of dating: You catch someone’s eye in the playground, smile casually, and then maybe strike up a conversation while pushing the swings. But if it feels like you are clicking, how do you take it to the next level? I don’t want to seem too desperate, making the first move, “Can I have your phone number?”

One day I actually re-met the woman I wrote about on our first day in Dublin, in Herbert Park. She was the one who asked when we had moved to Dublin and I responded, “5:00 a.m. this morning.” To which she shouted, “Welcome!” while also, I think, trying to conceal her shock that we were not at home sleeping. Anyway, after chatting again, she asked for my number! She said she would text me about getting together! I was pretty excited. But a few days passed, and I grew increasingly insecure, waiting for the text. I should have asked for her number in return. But then if I texted her when she said she was going to text me that would look sad. I picked up my phone in that annoying, illogical impulse that holding it and checking it can will someone into responding.

Recently I met up with another mum, because her son attended a crèche/pre-montessori we were considering for the boys. (More on the process of “detachment” in another post.) She was awesome. Laid-back, even though she has a two-month old and is on maternity-leave from Google. We chatted for an hour and a half. She suggested getting together again, some afternoon. This one is promising, though she did decline my invitation to get together last week. Sigh.

As for the Herbert Park woman, she’s toying with me. I got a few text invitations, but when I can’t show up to the thing she’s proposed (group activities that would require a car), I don’t get a response back to my texts suggesting another meet-up. I think she’s not ready for the one-on-one, and is doing the group invitation. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much how Sascha and I started “dating.”

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15 thoughts on “Making mum friends

  1. Very eloquently put – but if it makes you feel any better I felt (and feel) the same way navigating SAHM in West Hartford,CT and I grew up 20 minutes away…..I think it is a universal thing

  2. We miss you terribly. Meeting new people is always like dating- should I call? Would it seem too needy if I called two days in a row? How often is too often to make plans? Maybe ask someone at the playground if they know of a mother’s group in the area? I love the stories. More photos please!

  3. i’ve been on a lot of “blind blogger dates” lately – the good thing about those is you KNOW their email address so you can’t get stood up!

    • Don’t think I’m quite up to the blind blogger date yet, mostly because I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to dig in to the community. Come to think of it, I emailed a fellow mom expat through her blog about possibly meeting up a while ago, since it seemed like maybe we lived near each other based on her posts. I think she’s still back in the states, or else she thinks I’m a psycho-stalker.

  4. Interestingly I find myself to have the other problem, moms seem to want to hang out with me and I am not interested. I have my friends, and while I think I would like to have more moms to hang out with in the day, I don’t think that is the case. It is crucial that you like their kids and often I don’t. One mom called and left me 3 messages which I did not return. I know, awful. I have been feeling bad but we have nothing in common and her daughter is dreadful. So I take P to her new ballet class and guess who is there? She said “you know I called you two or three times and you didn’t get back to me. Were you out of town?” I told her that I wasn’t and that I just have been working a lot and not seeing a lot of people. Awkward. I see her again tomorrow. Another mom in the neighborhood texted me to see if I wanted to go for a walk and I don’t. But because I am a jerk I just didn’t get back to her. I guess I am just not that into them! Fellow followers of E please know that I am not as big a jerk as I am sounding now. Right?

    • Oh, Val. How I miss you! I love that you got totally busted. You are not a jerk. (At least not to me and all your friends who love you so much.) I think the thing with you is you are too socially in-demand. Everyone wants some Val, even complete strangers. The kid thing is right-on, though. If the person’s kid isn’t going to be a good friend for your kid and you have nothing in common, what’s the point? Sascha thought your comment was hilarious by the way, maybe you should guest post? About anything you want. Say, like having friends who leave you like traitors for cockroach-apartments in Brooklyn, then come crawling back to the sunny/fiery embrace of SoCal. Then leave again. Nice friends.

      Oh wait, that’s me & Viv.

  5. The early mom dates are tough– it’s so easy to offend. Much easier when the kids get older– conversations can happen with just a few grunts in the drop-off line. Or maybe I’m just married to my suburb and have let myself go.

  6. Love your honesty E! It’s so hard to admit sometimes that we are feeling lonely or don’t have plans but desperately wished that we did! I definitely don’t have Val’s social magnetism but unfortunately I still tend toward hermit more than social butterfly. Another dad at the playground one day solicited Ian and got his number. When he texted for a play date, I have to admit that I was vaguely relieved that we weren’t available. But of course now I feel bad and wonder if Ian should get back in touch. We probably lost our chance!

    Saw this article in Parenting about disliking your children’s friends – one for you & Val!

    http://www.parenting.com/article/when-you-cant-stand-your-kids-friend?cid=searchresult

    • I know, I tend toward hermit, too, although the influence of Sascha (socially magnetic, or better put, “socially successful”) has made me a bit better. We could all just figure out some mythical place to all settle down and force our kids into playdates and then arranged marriages so we didn’t have to deal with awkward new parent friendships.

      Loved your post on Hong Kong, especially the pictures. Crazy! BTW, tumblr also bugs because I can’t leave a long response and I wanted to ask you if F & D are getting Irish citizenship, then aren’t you eligible? Or could you at least get a residence card (I think that’s what my application is for as the spouse of an EU citizen and I think it allows me to work.) Oh and I saw a whole Guess! wall at Brown Thomas (fancy department store) so doesn’t that mean you should come here?

  7. Hi Erin,

    I am proud of you. Go get ’em! This post strikes at the heart of every Mom, be it SAHM or not. I remember all too well the unbelievable feeling of “yikes, are they gonna like me?” Brings back awful memories of 4 square on the playground–can you tell what a total dork I still am? Anyway, I miss you and am so glad that I get to read your musings. You are doing great! L, Sara

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