Monday, November 18, 2013

Mom Friends

Fiona asked me the other day why I wasn't friends with the moms of kids in her class, like I am with the moms of Delia's friends.  I really didn't know what to say, because there isn't really a reason, but there are some explanations, beginning with how we all got to know each other. Mainly, I got to be friends with "the moms," as Fiona calls them, because we were all sitting together waiting to pick our kids up and we all kind of bonded over that.  Our family had not been living back in Scottsdale that long when Delia started kindergarten, and we really knew no one here with school aged kids-- except for my true bff Alex who has three boys a little older than my girls, but I knew her way before we had these kids, and I'm not sure that counts-- so when Delia started school, it was all new.  Plus, Delia simultaneously made friends with the kids that belonged to the moms I was hanging with, so it was easy to talk about what was going on, and to make plans to get together outside of school because the kids also wanted to hang out.  Another factor was that we live walking distance from the school, so the moms saw us around the neighborhood, and often offered us rides home, and then to school for pick-up time, because, in Arizona, the school year starts in August, when the days are 100 degrees and above and even a short walk can be exhausting.  It was also easy to have them stop in at our house here and there after school, since we were close by.  So, I guess, I got to be friends with these moms for the same reason most of us end up married to people we meet at work, or school, or church:  access.  It's easier to make friends with someone when you share interests, and you can't make friends with people unless your paths cross pretty regularly.

Now that we've all known each other a while, we talk about lots of stuff that goes beyond our kids, and we support each other and have a really nice network of families.  We have gone through job changes and family health issues together and we've vented and laughed and bitched and cried together.  We've seen our kids grow and change together over the last couple of years.

It's not that I don't want to be friends with moms from Fiona's class, because I have met a few women I like really well.  But a couple of things have changed since Delia started school that make it harder to fall into the natural rhythm of getting to know new people.  One thing is that, this year, the school district has developed a new policy of "kids only" inside the school yard during school hours as part of its safety and security program.  So now, instead of walking the kids onto the playground and standing around chatting while the kids play before the bell rings, parents walk the kids just up to the school gate or let them out of the car in the parking lot drop off lanes. Without the opportunity to congregate in the morning and get to know each other, there isn't an effortless exchange like there was when Delia started kindergarten.  On this same note, I realize that I wasn't working when Delia started school, so I was there on the schoolyard to pick her up every day, opening up another possibility for meeting other parents.  Now, I work part time, so I am only there in the afternoon a couple of days a week, and then, I tend to spend the time catching up with the moms I know-- my mom friends-- instead of striking up new relationships.  A mom can only spread herself so thin, after all.  
Fiona, 3 year old "wing-girl"
And finally, I can't discount the fact that, when Delia was in kindergarten,  I always had Fiona with me, and there is no better ice breaker than an active, chatty three year old, except maybe a labradoodle puppy.  She was a great "wingman" for making mom friends.  

I also have to be honest then, and take some of this on myself.  I'm not really good about putting myself out there and being a joiner.  I'm pretty strongly in the introvert camp.  I mean, I'm a writer partly because I like to sit by myself and think.  A lot.  And I'm much older than a lot of these moms (like, I could be their mom) and I admit that this even made it hard for me with the mom friends I have made.  Yeah, you caught me, I am whining in self defense.  

I have tried to step up my efforts to help in Fiona's class, so I have volunteered for Art Masterpiece, and I did go on the field trip to a farm in October, and I helped out with the fall festival (oh, wait, that was for Delia's class, so it didn't really help me meet kindergarten parents...)  I did see a promising sign a couple of weeks ago.  I was walking to school to help with a kindergarten party/art activity, when one of the kindergarten moms stopped and offered me a ride the rest of the way.  Our kids are friends, so we had plenty to talk about and it was fun to work in the classroom with her.  We've just become Facebook friends, so I think that's a start...

School yard pic from this page

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