Everyone remembers the awkward high school days when you are trying your best to fit in, seem cool and not make a fool of yourself. You survive those four years but no one tells you those same feelings and the stress of making friends resurfaces when you become a mom.
I lug my kid, diapers, snacks and my travel coffee cup to the park in hopes of having a few minutes to myself while she runs around and plays. My daughter rushes towards the steps and heads for the slide. I scan the playground and see a few kiddos around her age and look around at the other moms sipping their coffee and chasing after little ones.
I instantly feel 15 again, sporting awkward glasses, some acne and more insecurities than I should have.
Do I go up to one of them and say hi? Do I wait for them to say something? Will they think I am “cool” enough? Will they like my kid? Is my kid playing well with her kid? What if I am too awkward with my messy bun and clothes covered in applesauce from breakfast? Is this mom part of the “popular crowd” and I won’t fit in?
It’s time for library story time and my kid is the only one not actually sitting and listening to the story. Will the other moms actually talk to me? Will they wonder why my kid can’t seem to sit and listen (totally ignoring the rational argument that my kid is the youngest one there, behaving age appropriately, but it still feels wrong)? Do I make the first move? Do I awkwardly say hi and hope that they engage in conversation? Do we just make small talk for the next 20 minutes and I never see them again? Or is there the off chance that we somehow strike up enough similarities and we exchange phone numbers?
Am I making mom friends or talking to my high school crush hoping they ask me out to the homecoming dance? The feelings are weirdly the same, decades apart, but all too familiar somehow. In high school, as I walked the hall to my next class, I passed by the football players and the cheerleaders (and I definitely didn’t belong in those crowds) and wondered if I was “good enough” to even have them talk to me. Now, as I see the fellow mom at the park, I ask myself, am I good enough to have this “popular” mom talk to me and want to be my friend?
Being a mom is hard. I know we are all struggling and have our own battles, but if you see the quiet mom at the park, covered in breakfast applesauce, smile and say hi. As hard as it is for you to do it, it’s just as hard for her to say it back and you might just make her day. And who knows, you might exchange a phone number for a play date next week!