Playdating: The Trials and Tribulations

One mother's experience trying to set up a playdate with a rude mom.

Can Working and Stay-at-Home Moms Be Friends?
An EXCLUSIVE Betty Series

She’s Just Not That into Me

The trials and tribulations of playdating

-Jennifer Lubell

woman with a strollerI kept running into her in the subway.

Like me, she was a working mom with a day-care child, the difference being her 1-year-old got to ride on public transportation every day to go to a facility downtown, whereas my son’s daycare center was located miles away from my office, in the suburbs.

Her daughter was this beautiful, dark-haired fairy of a child, with big brown eyes. Over the course of several weeks and months, I got to know both of them. We traded stories about speech and walking milestones. Eventually I knew what her child was eating. I started to like this woman, and wondered if I should take our relationship to the next step.

When I handed her my phone number and suggested we get together for a playdate, I watched as her face crinkled up in discomfort. Oops. This wasn’t the reaction I was hoping for.

“The thing is,” she said slowly (and I felt a rejection coming on), “your son is already walking, and my daughter is barely crawling.” Maybe at some point we could get together, she said, but the timing wasn’t quite right. Unsurprisingly, she never called to make that playdate.

A few months later, I saw her on the subway again. This time, she was sitting chummily with a woman whose daughter was at least 4 years old, a child who had clearly learned to walk a long time ago. From the way the two moms were chatting, it was evident that they were good friends, despite the large age gap between their girls.

At one point, she looked over toward me. We pretended not to see each other. When her stop came up, she couldn’t get herself and the stroller out of the subway FAST enough.

As I watched her make her speedy getaway, a familiar feeling came over me. Then I realized this was how I felt years ago, when I had run into a cute guy who had taken my number at a club and never called. The awkwardness of running into him again made me want to disappear.

We women think that once we find Mr. Right and get married, our days of dating and courtship are over. Wrong! Once we have children and our desire to socialize (and agonize over potty training and fussy eating) goes beyond our husbands, a new search begins: for Ms. Right. That new BFF who will understand every traumatic parenting phase we go through, who will reassure us that, yes, it was OK to give your toddler the same pacifier two nights in a row without washing it.

Sure, there are mommies groups you can join, but they seem to be mostly for SAHMs who have time during the day to get together for playdates and lunches. When you’re a working mom, the search for friends gets trickier. There’s less free time to cultivate friendships. I’ve often wondered if should start a new service: getting moms with similar interests together!

Feeling dejected by Subway Mom’s spurned advances, I decided one Saturday to go for a walk with my son in his stroller. As we enjoyed the fall weather, I thought to myself, I don’t necessarily need new mom friends. My BFF is sitting right in front of me, all 25 pounds of him.

Then I ran into a neighborhood acquaintance. She was doing the same thing I was: walking her daughter in the stroller to get some fresh air. “Do you want to join us?” she asked with a big smile.

Her daughter is a year older than Alex, but I’m hopeful we’ll get together for a second date really soon.

Jennifer Lubell is a health-care reporter in Washington, D.C., and mom to Alex, who’s 2.

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0 thoughts on “Playdating: The Trials and Tribulations

  1. Quite possibly the most relevant article that I have read in ages. “Mommy dating” is far more awkward than the worst of jr high dances. Jennifer Lubell put it so well.

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