L is for Lonely in a Crowded Playdate

bars of playground equipment
Feeling trapped, but doing it for my kids

I had the strange experience of joining a mom’s group when my first child was a baby. Eager to meet new moms in the area and looking for people to talk to about car seats and sippy cups, I went to a few meetings and playdates.

Within the larger group, there were smaller playgroups that broke off and met more regularly, and I kind of fell into one of those along with several other women who had recently joined. We met at parks and eventually each other’s homes, coming together about once a week to discuss our picky eaters, fussy sleepers, our non-napping, potty-training, preschool-going kids, followed later by our morning sickness, aches and pains, due dates, doctor’s appointments, labor stories, and battles with sibling rivalry.

As this time passed, I realized that these friendships that had seemed so quickly and tightly bonded by all that we had in common, were not progressing. They seemed stalled in the waiting room of mere acquaintances, failing to evolve into something more. This made me feel lonely when we got together. I wondered, “When will we start talking about something besides our kids? When will we start caring about each other’s lives, or even each other’s birthdays? When will we start remembering that we’ve told these same stories before, and then, like friends do, say, ‘Oh, I remember you saying that,’ and then hear the update to that previously listened-to story?”

It seemed to be the same thing over and over, and it made me lonely and bored. It was like meeting each other for the first time, week after week, at a crowded, noisy playdate; all of us talking and none of us listening.

I’ve realized many things since then. Most importantly, and obviously, that just because you happen to procreate around the same time as another person doesn’t mean you are destined to be friends. That first-time moms getting together and sharing the details of common first-time-mom experiences might feel like friendship, but is not quite the same thing as two people who have the same interests in movies, hobbies, shows, food, books, approaches and values in life choosing to spend time together on a regular basis.

I suppose my expectations were too high. It’s embarrassingly obvious now, but at the time I couldn’t figure it out. I wanted them to be my friends, but they became my “mom friends.”

I’m extremely lucky to have a few people in my life who have been my friends since the days before we became parents. Real friends, who will always have something to talk about besides our kids, who will wish me a happy birthday, and who will remember past conversations and pick up the story where we last left off.


I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April. The idea is to post every day, except Sundays, and end up with one post for each letter of the alphabet. It’s a good challenge to help me to blog every day.

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