Suburban Snapshots

Some Other Mothers

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A couple of months after I had Anna, I decided to use my new baby to help me make friends. It worked in Boston with my dogs, so why not, right? We were still relatively new to town and most of our neighbors are senior citizens, so while we're friendly with the lovely people over our fences, we weren't really relating on anything beyond lawn maintenance and devious squirrel activity.

I found a local mothers group and attended one meeting, but after 5 minutes I realized that while motherhood does instantly give you a mutual topic of conversation, it can't bridge other gaps, like the one where I don't play tennis or drive a Mercedes. (OK fine, or remember to brush my hair sometimes, or clean the breast milk out of my kid's neck rolls.)

Then a few months ago I gave it another go, signing up — dues and all — for a different mothers group. They have a website with lists of things to do, forums for exchanging reviews on anything from dentists to dishwashers, pages and pages of conversations and playgroups. A real community, I thought, so many women to choose from. Surely this is the source for my local BFF.

Each day I'd open the group's upcoming activities email, and every single time whatever was happening was happening without me. Playdates took place at 2pm or 10am, with consideration made for naptime but not for having to be planted in front of a desk from 9-5. I started getting irrationally annoyed with the entire group for always planning things in my absence, like the time in junior high my two closest friends went and got "Best Friends" t-shirts without my name on them. I'm not bitter, Linda and Stephanie.

Maybe at this age all of our strongest relationships are built; the friends you never call or see, the ones who require no maintenance, who understand the unspoken rule of canceled plans. Maybe if I have to try this much I'm kind of forcing the issue. But it would be nice to have someone to run errands with every now and then who I didn't have to bribe, carry or threaten, someone who could buckle themselves into the car, whose shoes I wouldn't have to constantly pick up, track down, or re-apply.

Do you think there's a cutoff to making lasting friendships? Have you found it harder or easier in your late 20s, 30s, 40s? After a move? After kids?

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