I hate play dates.
They sound wonderful.
Hey! Our kids will play and have fun and we can sit and get some adult social time. Hurray!
Is that actually how play dates go for people?
For starters, small talk is one of my least favorite things. I am so terrible at it. Also, do children play nicely when there are new toys at someone else’s house?
For me, a play date basically means that I will sit there attempting to not say something completely offensive while trying to hear every single thing my child says so I can intervene before a meltdown occurs. I am nervous the entire time.
I’m quite confident my dad never took me to a “play date”. If I wanted to play with someone, I could go to the neighbors house. Now, we don’t really have neighbors, but if we did, I don’t think it would be acceptable for my children to randomly show up at their house without me.
On social media, I consistently see play dates getting scheduled. We have to put a time in our calendar for our children to play with other kids. This is so stressful.
I hear people talk about how the world just isn’t safe anymore, to explain this play date mentality…but…exactly when was the world “safe”? Spoiler alert…it’s not less safe now. (These are the kinds of things I have to try not to say to new people, controversial things…which…now that I think about it, are pretty much all the things).
Jim Gaffigan (LOVE HIM) wrote about motherhood in his book “Dad is Fat” (if you have not read this, go buy it right now). Forget “what to expect when you’re expecting”, etc, this is the book you need with kids.
“Motherhood is filled with executive decisions, and with each decision comes possible conflict with kids, husbands, and other mom friends. With these other mom friends, there are so many opportunities for major disagreements and awkwardness. Let’s say that a woman starts with twenty friends when she finds out she’s pregnant. There is going to be awkwardness with, let’s say, six of those friends because they have no interest in babies or are jealous she is pregnant. Then four won’t agree with how she behaves during the pregnancy. She’s too uptight, too casual, or not available enough as a friend. We are down to ten friends. Then there are the decisions of how the baby will be delivered, breastfeeding, circumcision, blanket or no blanket in the crib, and whether or not to return to work after the birth. These topics turn out to be more divisive than opinions about politics and religion. After a couple of kids, there might be one good friend left. And that friend is never available because she has too many kids herself. I’m amazed mothers have anyone to talk to. When a man finds out he’s going to be a father, it barely covers more than twenty seconds of a conversation with his male friends. ‘I heard you two are expecting! Congratu…Who do you think is the best quarterback in the fourth quarter?'”
This made me feel better, okay, I’m not alone in this whole, “I don’t have close friends” thing. So here’s my big truth telling scary vulnerability moment. I don’t feel comfortable around new people, and in this age of play dates, that means my children essentially don’t get to have friends. And by,”I don’t feel comfortable”, I mean, social situations are really difficult for me.
If you don’t struggle with anxiety, if you have an easy time making friends, if you have no idea what I’m talking about- that’s awesome for you- it’s not so much my situation.
We go to parks, libraries, etc all the time, and my kids play with other kids there, but they don’t have friends. We moved to Asheville and left behind my daughters’ only friends and I’ve been told, “oh they/you will make new friends”. That might be true if you are a social person, but how is an introverted mom supposed to function in this world of scheduled friendships? Do you post on Facebook that you want to meet new people in the area? I think that works for some people. I would actually physically have a panic attack.
So there’s my truth, my struggle. In order for a younger child to have friends, their respective mothers need to be friends. I don’t remember my parents being friends with a lot of my friends’ parents. Maybe that’s because my memories were from my older years. Parents knew each other, they occasionally talked, but they weren’t present for every social event I attended. At least that’s my memory.
I thought for a while about this post, because honestly, if you don’t struggle with anxiety, this might not make any sense. If you are extroverted, I might come across as selfish, by not, “just making new friends”. If you love being around people, you might have an easy time posting on a meetup group, “Hey I’m headed to the park, meet me there!”.
So anyway, my current struggle is this, if I don’t have friends with children who live close enough for a play date, my kids don’t get to have friends.