The most important friendships for moms are the fleeting ones. As we get older and more involved in work and family, the deep, great friendships are still on the books, but they have very little relevance to our daily life. Particularly with my first born, any little chat with a neighbor or person in a store brightened my day. Like a new kid in the neighborhood, I used to take her on walks hoping some mom and baby would be on their front porch and ready to be my friend (after more than of year of that walk, I did get a couple of neighbor friends).
I was reminded of this yesterday.
After a weekend of air conditioning and TV, I decided the kids and I needed to escape. But we had to act like refugees in a war. Well, at least refugees from a heat wave and stinky skies due to a horrible fire in Angeles National Forest and surrounding areas. I start the car to cool it off and then put the kids in (still don’t know how moms who live in places like Phoenix do it).
We drove 20 minutes southwest to a shady park. It was ten degrees cooler than our area. When we got there, I saw one family having a picnic, but otherwise the place was deserted. I was already dreading how I would have to hold Rex, shading his face from the sun as Vivien wanted me to “play” with her. I of course wanted to sit my body down on the bench with my back under the shade of Chinese elm and occasionally say, “That’s great!” and “I’m watching you.”
After a few minutes a mom walked into the park with her 4 year old and 20 month old. They looked like the right food group. Yeah.
First needed friendship: For Vivien. She had a good buddy from the get go. They were playing well together, and now I could sit and do the main job of a mom at a park for a kid who has equilibrium.
Predator watch. Other than that I’m not really needed.
Second friendship needed: for me. Quickly the mom and I started chatting. The friend mating ritual is the always the same for moms. We observe how they speak to their kids: are they kind, but setting limits? Do they have roughly the same values and attitude? If they had a spazzy kid who is pushing little kids around and they don’t intervene, this friendship is going NO,where.
We learned the age and names or our kids, where they went to pre-school, how much it cost.. “more than going to UCLA”. She learned where I grew up. I learned she had a stepdaughter and so on.
Then another mom and girl appeared who seemed cool. And she had better sand toys than we did so this was a real coup. That mom and I discussed the horrible Dugard case.
“Pure evil, so scary.”
First mom had to go since her little one needed a nap. We all said good-bye. Second mom and I decided to pull the girls at the same time so our exit would have less screams.
It wasn’t until I was strapping my kids back in the car that I realized I DIDN’T KNOW THE MOMS’ NAMES. And they didn’t know mine.
Is it some odd mom bonding that our own selves are secondary? That it’s our kids, including our fears for them, that bond us more than knowing our names, where we work, hobbies? That’s a whole other layer of friendship and not for this very important 45 to 90 minute park friendship.
Or are these mom friends who you only see once more like super heroes?
“Who was that masked mom?”