Shorty and I are still sick but we needed to get some fresh air so I bundled him up and pulled out the stroller to take a little walk. We got only about eleven houses down the street when one of our neighbors and her two year old daughter happened to step outdoors. We ended up staying for an hour and letting the kids run around outdoors. The kids had fun and it was nice to catch up with the mom but I can’t help but feel that sometimes I’m locked in the days of high school and its social cliquey-ness. (Yes, I think I just made up a new word or at the very least new spelling.)
Let me step back several years to give you the back history on this particular situation. We moved here three years ago. It was a new development with less that 30 houses built when we arrived. I got pregnant about five weeks after we moved in. About halfway through my pregnancy I learned that several other new neighbors were also pregnant with their first child. We introduced ourselves and formed a little mommy group. The first baby was born in June, two more in August, and another two babies came in September – two boys and three girls. We all felt blessed to have our little group and built in playmates for our children so close to home. When we found out a sixth woman was due in March we added her to the group and welcomed her little boy when he arrived.
In the beginning we tried to get together at least once a month. We all attended each child’s first birthday party. As time went on and we all got busy with our own lives we kinda let ourselves get distant. Since then one mom has moved away. Two mothers had a major fallout, over what I don’t think anyone knows. They no longer speak to each other. It now seems that the rest of us have fallen victim to this rift between the other two. Strangely, it also seems as the divide has broken down by gender. The moms of girls on one side and the moms of boys on the other.
One of the mothers (let’s call her Mom A) involved in this rift started actively seeking out my friendship about a year ago. As I’m not very good at making new friends or reaching out to people I was thankful that she extended herself. We’ve become pretty good friends and try to get together on a regular basis. But what I noticed was that around the time that she and I got more friendly the other mom (Mom B) involved in ‘the rift’ became less available. She became more friendly with another mother (Mom C) in the group who lived next door to Mom A. Mom C and Mom A stopped associating with each other. Mom B and Mom C are very good friends. Their husbands are very good friends. I learned today that they all took a family vacation together this summer.
I feel like I’m in high school. When Mom A and I became more friendly she told me her side of the story. I listened but told her that I really did not want to be involved as I would like to remain friendly with both of them. She understood.
I already explained that I’m not very good at reaching out to people. I have not done a very good job of reaching out to Moms B or C. They have not done a good job of reaching out to me. When we run into each other we say hello and inquire about the kids and husbands. We make promises to get together for a playdate but nothing ever comes of it. I invited them to Shorty’s second birthday party but each declined for various reasons. When there are neighborhood functions I make it a point of seeking them out to say hello even if I am with Mom A. I’m trying to let them know that I have not chosen sides without actually coming out and saying it as I’m trying to remain as far removed from ‘the rift’ as I can. They got the invite to Shorty’s party as an olive branch to again let them know that I have not chosen one over another.
Yet I still can’t help but feel that Mom B and C have paired up and taken the stance that I am on Mom A’s side and that’s where I should remain. It’s sad really because our children are missing the opportunity to have more playmates. On one hand, I feel like if people want to be cliquey then I’d rather not be around them. On the other hand, there is that juvenile part of me that just wants people to like me and my child and my feelings are kinda hurt by their excluding me from their group. I feel like the social stakes are higher now that I am a mom. In the past if someone didn’t like me it was no big deal. Now if someone doesn’t like me or Big they might filter that down to Shorty. I don’t want Shorty to be the odd kid out simply because we’re not part of the clique. And this neighborhood which is much bigger than it was when we moved in seems to be full of cliques.
So, this latest surprise playdate was with Mom B and her child. It was a chance happening. We were cordial, friendly even in our conversation. But I still felt some underlying tension or resistance. I doubt either of us will make the effort to get together again unless it’s another chance encounter. I hope I’m wrong about that because our children had fun and seem very well matched developmentally. Maybe I should have told her that I wanted to be more friendly with her. But there’s always that chance that you won’t get the same response and somehow that would be more hurtful than this guessing game I’ve been playing in my head as to whether or not I’m liked or not.
Is it just my imagination that life as a mom feels a lot like treading through the social corridors of high school? Only now our children’s stance in the social world is at stake too. What’s a mom to do especially if she isn’t the most socially extroverted mom on the block?