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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Do I smell?

Written by Lee

In the world of moms, I can honestly say, I feel most of the time, like an outsider.  And I don't even think I'm being overly dramatic when I say that.  It's just that when it comes to a bunch of moms hanging around and chatting, I'm usually the one standing over to the side chiming in here and there but mainly feeling like some sort of weirdo.

And that's rather odd for me.  

Not because I'm like usually very popular or the center of attention in any kind of group, it's just that I consider myself an extrovert and I usually don't have any trouble talking to anyone.  I'm not shy. I'm not overly-self-conscious. I'm not particularly insecure.  I'm not the life of the party either. I just consider myself a down-to-earth, easy to talk to kind of chick.

But it seems in the mom world, my people skills just don't translate.  

Now, as I have spent some time analyzing this little "problem" of mine of feeling like a mom loser in the mom social scene, I have thought about the fact that I am not a girl's girl and that I have never been a girl who hangs with a big group of gals.  I'm more of a solo kind of soul who has amazing friendships with individual women but they are not connected.  I've kind of been "adopted" into this one large gaggle of women that Ames is a part of and I am honored to be let into the group but I think I'm kind of like a charity case.  In a way. 

The times in my life where I have felt a real solidarity with a group of women came either playing soccer where my teammates comprised my friend scene or when I taught English in Poland for a year in my late 20's and I met a group of utterly cool young women who are also on the journey and we became a small clique of traveling friends.  Other than that, it's just been total luck of the draw of finding a few cool girls who actually liked me and were willing to start a friendship.  And like I said, I'm blessed to have the girlfriends that I do have because they generally rule and they love me for who I am.  To the core.  

But now that most of my tight friends do not live anywhere NEAR me (and why IS that exactly I wonder) and I am a mom, I am a basic loner.  

And although I am generally okay with being a loner and I know a lot of it simply MUST have to do with me and my internal make-up, I still wonder what my problem is and why can't I just waltz into some chatting moms and make a new friend?

Is finding a new friend so hard?  For me it is.  Damn hard.  But I seem to hold a better chance of making a new female friend in my work world of television than I do on the playground.  Now that I'm not working much, I have to rely on the playground and the schoolyard and in those two places, something is just not right.

I see moms chatting all around me.  Exchanging phone numbers and emails and making arrangements to swap recipes and go shopping.  And I mean, these other moms are nice to me on the surface and smile my way when I walk up and ask the obligatory "How's it going?" but no friendship is in the works.  At all. It never gets beyond the most superficial chit-chat imaginable and I'm left wondering why I can't find me a new friend. 

Why?  Am I too picky?  Do I give off an unfriendly mom vibe?  Do they know that deep down I am not a supermom and they want nothing to do with me?  Do I not have enough coupon advice? Is it so obvious that my eyes start to glaze over when the conversation stays on all things kid- related? Do I smell? Not hip enough?  Not activist enough? Not LA enough?  

I know there has got to be some moms out there who crave a new friend and might want to hang out with someone like me, but holy shit, it's like digging through the sand on the beach trying to find a quarter your kid just dropped and she's crying for you to find it.  It just keeps sinking further down and it's all elusive and invisible.  It's weird.

There is this mom at The Love Fairy's preschool and she invited The Love Fairy to her daughter's birthday party.  And I was all, okay, this could be a real chance. This mom seems cool enough and now I'll be hanging at her house at the party and I can chat up her and some other preschool moms and maybe this will be the start of something uh, beautiful. 

Well? No such luck.  

Not only did I feel like a total ass at that party as I tried to engage in conversation with several of the moms along with the hostess, but to this day, months later, this mom generally ignores me when I see her at school pretending she has not even seen the little smile and hello I am giving her.  What is up with that?  

So I'm left to cruise around my world and wonder why being a mom has put me in this whole other category of women who seem to think I am just a poser. Like I'm not really a mom and I don't really need a mommy friend. 

And maybe that's what it is....I really don't need a mommy friend.  I just need and want a friend who is a mom.  

Someone in my daily life who gets my often quirky personality and who will listen to my wack- ass ideas while the kids play in the yard.   And who might want to crank up some tunes and maybe dance around in the living room. And who would consider ordering some take-out and then want to bake some cookies together.  And who just wants to hang out and pass some time like friends do.

Is this too much to want/need/ask for?

Should finding a friend that is a mom be so damn hard?

Or is it just me?


  1. okay, your imagined play date sounds heavenly. i think we could make it work. my kids are old enough that they could basically care for your kids and we would be able to complete ignore them for hours. DAYS, maybe.

    i have a few theories about your issue. and they all seem catty, but i have thought and observed and attempted and pulled away for years now.

    so i guess let me give my thoughts and i'll let our readers see if the dots can be connected at all....

    1) in an effort to make themselves feel better about themselves and the choices they make as moms (because who wants to be accused of not doing THE best thing for their kids), some moms are very competitive. these moms often times talk AT you, and don't really engage.

    2) MANY women i know are completely invested in their kids... i mean to the point that they are basically living vicariously through their kids. this often lends itself to very focused talk about their own kids, their kids' achievements, their kids' "goals" (i am sorry, but what 8 year old has goals? these are usually TOTALLY parent-driven).

    3) as the kids get older, they get more involved in sports, school, the 'hood, etc. this kind of forces you to be around people (moms) that you may not ordinarily choose to associate with. it's important to get along with these peeps, as they will be in your circle, but there's no rule that says you have to be buds. it makes it difficult, and this is where i am having a really tough time. i am AROUND people that the only thing i have in common with is my kids. my instinct is to try to be friends with them. but i don't like them all that much. and now that the kids are older, i see that as soon as the kiddos graduate, we will all be TOTALLY going our separate ways. so i guess i am biding my time.

    i went on WAY too long and probably just made things worse. but i guess i am trying to say, that you are lucky to have the wonderful friendships that you do have. you are okay. you are normal. or maybe you aren't normal, but you definitely aren't alone in how you feel.

    maybe you should try out quirky's 60 sec plan and report back to us with the results.

  2. ps: you better NOT smell or you'll have to find a new roommate in chicago.

  3. "I really don't need a mommy friend. I just need and want a friend who is a mom."

    I so get this.

    Yet another reason why I feel the need to move to California. I could teach you an awesome routine to "Living on a Prayer."

  4. I am so with you on this one!

    I'm also with Deb.

    In addition to what you both have said, it seems many moms "have enough friends" and don't want to "introduce" anyone else into their little world.

    I am thankful for my friends - some are moms with little kids, some are moms with HS and college aged kids and some have NO kids. The best part is, when we are together, we don't spend all of our time talking about kids!

  5. I feel exactly the same way. I see groups of moms and their kids and they're all...enmeshed in each other's lives. I just wonder...what have I done wrong?

    Is it that my house isn't a mansion? My kids wear second hand clothes? My husband isn't a doctor?

    I have no clue...and if you figure it out, let me know...

  6. Lee you always write the most poignant and touching posts.

    Really GF! I love your insight and ability to wordsmith so well your feelings and emotions.

    You blow me away!

    Now to the post. I TOTALLY and completely get it. I hate to add that I am sooo in the same boat! I, too, want a friend who just happens to be a Mom. Actually, I don't even care about that. Just somebody who wants and can take the time to hang with me and that I can feel comfortable calling up and saying...Hey I can hang with you for a few minutes, hours, days, weeks? heh heh

    And for the record, I can admit it. I AM insecure a lot of the times. Oh well. Maybe that is the turn-off.


  7. Hey all my MWOB friends that are offering such wonderful comments....this post really has me thinking. And Deb, yes, I need to try Quirky's 60-second plan and see if that works. :-)

    At this point in my mom life (CR, my oldest, will be 7 in June) I can honestly say I have met some really wonderful moms. I haven't experienced any sort of extreme competitiveness yet and nothing seems mean-spirited in any way. I just really truly feel left out of the mom conversation that seems to be happening around me.

    I also realize that finding a true friend is not the easiest thing to do in life...someone you really truly get along with and feel totally comfortable with - that's hard. I've never been a quick friend kind of person and like I said, I've never had flocks of friends in my life. Now that I'm a mom, my main source for meeting women is in momworld. And in that world, I think moms think I'm slightly strange.

    Anyway - can't wait to see other people weigh in on this topic...maybe there are more of us out there than I realized and maybe that is one huge reason why we are blogging.

    And I love blogging friends - for sure....but really face to face is what I need in my life. You know?

  8. Oh Lee-I so get what you're saying. How can so many of us have the same problem? We should be running into eachother everywhere and all being friends at this rate!
    I'm feeling a strange combination of dread and hope at the coming year of kindergarten. Maybe I will meet some friends, maybe it will all be the same thing. I swear I smiled at every single mom who made eye contact with me at "pre-registration" and maybe two smiled back. I probably do smell....

  9. It's amazing how we feel so alone yet, there is something universal about that feeling. Weird huh?

    For me, it has been all about accpetance. I was recently at a backyard party for one of my daughter's classmates. There was a group of moms chatting in various circles and instead of forcing myself to join one of the circles and chime in, I made the choice to sit by myself and just watch the party. I just didn't have it in me to try to fit in. I was tired of it. I don't fit in. That's clear.

    I so get it about the small talk. It only goes so far and then it just gets exhausting.

    And, charity? Are you kidding? You are critical to the girl's getaways. Without you, who could I possibly get into a conversation with about "dumb people" or "gay weddings in education." You light up the scene my friend, truly like no other.

    Great post. Oh and by the way, you definitely don't smell.

  10. I feel like the transition from small talk to "really get to know one another" talk is the hard part for me. I feel always feel so ackward.

    Since having my daughter I have felt like a loner. I don't want friendships that are just based on the fact that we both have kids. Maybe that is my problem. It seems like a lot of moms are pretty singularly focused on their children and almost seem to forget that they are also their own person, and conversations don't have to revolve around their children.

    I guess I had trouble like this when my friends and I were all starting to get married and suddenly they forgot that they had their own personalities outside of their husbands too.

  11. this is a great topic, lee!! i am so into this discussion!

    listen, i don't mean that other moms are mean-spirited... what i mean is i really believe a lot of women are looking inward... absorbed or caught up in their own need for acceptance that they aren't casting a very wide net in hopes of catching an unique, cool friend.

    i think the only solution to this is frequent MWOB retreats! if no one minds dogs, cats and chaos, we can have them here!

  12. I feel the same way. I don't know why its so hard to make mommy friends?

  13. First of all - I just want to say how scary alike we are ...that being said - I will be your friend who just happens to be a mom.

    Mommy groups bore me to tears. There are other things to talk about than uteri and (ugh) children.

    Where's a fun group of smart , worldly, educated, experienced, real, realistic, independent, snarky women when you need them? In the internet ....that's where!

  14. First of all, you really do not smell!

    Second of all, you live in an area of "those moms". The moms that are so competitive that their kids are going to be in therapy for YEARS thanks to them.

    Move to the valley - I'd love to hang out with you :) I've made 2 REALLY GOOD friends whose kids are in 1st grade with mine. We are all slacker moms who think that our kids haracter (even if we have to beat it in to them) is more important than what they "accomplish" or are wearing ;)

  15. It's nice to see I'm not the only one. I've even tried the "let's do lunch" thing, even though I'm not a do lunch kind of girl, but end up being given every excuse in the book. Just to hear them talk about having lunch with someone else.

    I'm all for us not cool mamas hanging out. I need to know that I don't have to have it all together as a mom just to be someone's friend. Really, are we in middle school all over again? Never want to go there a second time!

    And while we're at it, wouldn't it be nice JUST FOR ONCE for someone else to do the asking? If I'm not the one inviting people over or out or whatever we can go for months without doing something. What's up with THAT?

  16. I can relate to this on so many levels. I also have very few girl friends who I've connected with. In fact, I think I've had maybe 1 or 2 close girl friends in the last decade. And none of them live near me now.
    As for meeting new friends/moms. I find it's like dating all over again!

  17. The subject of this post has been percolating in my head all day wondering if it came out the way I wanted it to and meant it to but although it didn't perfectly summarize all that I wanted it to the main point is there - that it's tough meeting a new friend that is a mom and I am sure as hell not the only woman to feel this way. So I love what Swirl Girl said because yes, exactly, where do we find this group of creative, smart. snarky etc etc women who we can be friends with? In the internet that's where!!! But there is still a problem in that for me....this internet deal only goes so far what?

    I guess we need MWOB retreats as Deb suggested.....and Em can perform her "Living on A Prayer" routine...I would die to see that.

    Thanks for all of these awesome thoughtful comments....


  18. You bring up so many good points with this post. I agree, it is hard to make real friends as I get older. I'm not really sure why. I think part of it is, when we are younger, we're less "heady" about things...if we dig someone and they dig us, we "connect" and a friendship ensues.

    It's definitely hard to make real friends when we become Mamas. I agree with the others, I think women can be pretty competitive and judgemental.

    All I know is that my real friends "get me"...and no matter how far away they might be, their friendship is a constant, soul-feeding, enriching, positive force in my life. And I am extremely thankful!!

    Oh, and you, my friend, are definitely one of those people who feeds my soul. Thank you :-)

  19. It is not just you...and I'm right there with you. I met a girl like a year ago, we had a couple playdates, I thought "well maybe we'll be friends"...never heard from her again...

    Then yesterday, I ran into her on the street. I asked how she was doing, she said "Oh, I've found a group to hang with..." This translated to me that, I hadn't made the cut.

    I don't know why this bummed me out, but it did. Since when do I care what practically strangers think? Yet, it bummed me out that I didn't make the cut:P

  20. Lee - I see you struggling with this just in this series of comments - it is so difficult to put your finger on the problem let alone the solution. My solution is give up... just embrace your isolation....

    I'm kidding...

    Bottom line is making great, soulful, trust-filled friendships with women is TOUGH. And finding one that lives down the street who is ready to dance with you in the living room while the cookies are burning and your kids are playing on the freeway...
    well that the TOUGHEST thing EVER.
    I've been in Salt Lake City for EIGHT years. The amount of wonderful women I've met here... countless!
    The amount of lifetime best friends discovered... well, its like "momisodes" said up there - it truly is like dating - it is HARD, so hard to find the time to devote to seeing if you truly are soul sisters - and then if you see a glimmer of hope, do they feel the same way??? Like I said, I have friendships here and I have met so many wonderful women here, but I'm still working on the best best best friendships... I think as long as I'm here, I will have to constantly re-commit to working on it... and working on it... and working on it...
    In the meantime, thank God for all you wonderful folks out there in MWOB land that are kindred spirits - it helps to know we're not alone. And thanks Lee for your honesty and getting the discussion rolling...

  21. ummmm....HELLO?...what am i, chopped liver?

    and least you get invited to the pre-school parties! haha.


  22. sheesh, I couldn't read all the comments, so I'm sorry if I repeat...

    I love this post because I SO get it. And it made me want to hang out with you.

    I think it boils down to one thing - INSECURITY. Most moms struggle in group situations, they're being careful about what they say even if they seem like old pals. I've noticed that most of the time I spend in mom groups with kiddos around, the moms are panicky over what their kids are doing and saying, trying to appear as if their child never does anything...childish. So they aren't even really engaging in anything but their own head space.

    I only have a couple of friends that can shut that off and just hang with me. And I love time with them. Regular old playdates with groups are SO not my thing.

    I hope you find those people who really "get you" soon. I'm sure it's NOT just's mommies. Weird.

  23. For the record, I also have a kick a$$ routine for "Two of Hearts." :-) Em

  24. I loved this post. I could not agree with you more. I have never had a close group of girlfriends and barely had a best friend. I feel like I stink all the time. Seems like everyone already has their "special friends". I sound pathetic writing this. Oh, well.

  25. I seem to have the oppostie problem...I can't seem to find a friend (who wants to REALLY connect) who ISN'T a mom! Everyone I know is a mom, and I can't seem to locate any friends who are childless who want to "let me in," so to speak. They already have their little cliques, and I'm the outsider who's either trying too hard or seems like she doesn't even care! Ptthhttt. I guess the grass is always greener, huh?


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