I love my friends. But as a new mom in a new city, I find that I’m dying to meet other young moms with similar interests who are available at 11:30 am on a Tuesday to push a stroller around the park or debate Aveeno vs. Burt’s Bees diaper cream. Also, it would be nice to put my child next to another kid and just walk away, knowing that there is another competent adult nearby to intervene should my little one find the one magazine within a 10-foot radius, tear off a corner of the cover, moisten it with a healthy dose of drool and wind it far up her nostril.
I’ve already acknowledged (and am attempting to rehabilitate) my extreme awkwardness in social situations…but I’m still a weirdo when it comes to meeting new people. I’m always so concerned with being cool and approachable and happenin’, that I often waaaay overdo it and come off as being a tool (evidence: I just said ‘happenin’). Making new friends is really similar to dating, but I wouldn’t know because that’s something I haven’t actually done in real adult life. Steve and I have been together for 8 years, and back when we met, “dating” went a little something like this:
“Want another beer?”
Hands me a Natty Lite and a beer bong with his fraternity’s name.
“So are you.”
Starts making out.
Ahh, young love is so refreshing. It’s obvious that I had some serious game back then, so I’m understandably baffled why, after 5 months in the Windy City, Josie and I are still ridin’ solo. To be honest, we’re kind of tired of each other. When she wakes up from her nap, I walk into her room and she audibly sighs, as if to say, “You again?” Her first full sentence was, “Mom, you’ve told me that story 8 times already.” We’re kind of running out of things to talk about, so we decided to beat the heat wave that’s crushing the country by heading to one of Chicago’s many fantastic free public pools.
Our public pools run on a very strict schedule, usually in 1.5-hour increments to allow different groups to utilize the cool waters. For example, there’s Day Camp time (lots of yelling and splashing), Lap Swim time (obnoxious - stop exercising weirdoes), Teen Swim time (super hormone-y) and our slot, Parent & Tot time. We’ve got three pools nearby, so every morning I check each of their schedules to find the Parent & Tot time that best fits within our day’s plans. Yesterday, we headed over to the huge California Park pool, part of one of Chicago’s countless parks. Once Josie has seen the pool, changing her into her swim diaper is like trying to hug a spider monkey, so I did the best I could and we jumped right in. Cool relief washed over us as we giggled, splashed and played in the gleaming water. There was another mom and her toddler playing nearby, and I immediately felt a bit of chemistry as we exchanged that brief knowing glance that says, You cool? Yea, you cool? Hell yea, let’s chat. They waded their way over to us, and we made small talk as our daughters splashed together. Things were going really well, until she asked me a strange question.
“So, are you an opera singer?”
WTF. I started frantically flipping through the catalogs in my brain – had she heard my hurried rendition of “Itsy Bitsy Spider?” Does my new swimsuit make me look like a freckly Lady Macbeth? Or maybe my lip fuzz was starting to sunburn. On second thought, maybe I am a better singer than I thought I was.
(Ed. note: This is a perfect example of a situation in which I am best to just quietly shake my head and slowly swim away.)
“Oh an opera singer? Ha ha…um…yea of course…singing is…me...good in the shower! Actually, in first grade I was in the school choir, but then they let us choose to either stay in the choir or play the recorder, and I was totally like ‘mom, buy me a recorder!’ Come to think of it, it was the first time I felt personal dissatisfaction at the decisions I had made for my life. I always wondered what would have happened had I stayed in the choir…would Jay Z have discovered my Gaelic electro-rap video on YouTube and offered me a $150 million contract to tour the country with Rihanna? No one ever offers the recorder player a contract. Or a party invite. Hashtag life fail. Ha ha ha. Ha.”
“Wait, what? I don’t even…get it.” she responded.
“Oh, no. I’m not an opera singer, why do you ask”…a sane person might have responded.
She said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I only asked because you have Ave Maria tattooed on your back, I just assumed…” as she grabbed her child’s arm and ever so conveniently found the nearest ladder, mumbling something about a sunscreen allergy. See you never. Another one bites the dust.
I’m sure we will soon have an extensive network of mommies and babies to call on for all of our play date needs, and a year from now we will have a social calendar to rival Malia Obama. You’re right, I should enjoy these unscheduled and stress-free dog days of summer, because before I know it my little nutjob will be too busy to read a book on my lap, have an impromptu dance party whenever Robin Thicke comes on Pandora or politely listen to my whistled version of the opening theme of West Side Story. More friends will come with time, but precious moments are brief. For now, we’ll just enjoy each other’s company – the ultimate mommy and me playtime!