Thursday, May 26, 2011

Social Coordinator

Being a mother carries many responsibilities, but honestly the one I dislike the most is that of social coordinator.  We are lucky enough to live on a street with a lot of kids, so there are often times that the kids will ring each others doorbells and just play among everyone's yards until dinner.  Love that.  Unfortunately, most of the other kids on the block are older than mine, so they are busier with activities and homework etc.  

I think part of what I don't like is the word "playdate".  I don't know why but it just bugs me. I guess it's the dating part.  Sounds so formal. I am always surprised when I read in magazines about the multitude of things Moms prepare for these playdates.  Admittedly at a younger age, kids may need some direction or they may get bored.  I don't hover over my kids when they have a friend over.  I provide lunch or a snack and otherwise just stay in earshot in case they start arguing, which usually they don't.  I don't prepare special crafts, although we have plenty of crafty stuff available if that's what they choose to do.  Really I end up with free time to catch up on laundry, tidying up or ideally reading a book or the newspaper in peace.

My daughters each have a couple of core friends who they play with on a regular basis.  Or BFFWL as they call them.  So picking who to invite over is the easy part.  At this point I know the parents of these kids and have email addresses for them, so again getting in contact is easy.  I think it's the juggling of my kids schedule with their kid is tough and mine really don't do that many activities.

That said, I understand the importance of being able to play with friends outside of school, so I guess I just need to suck it up and get better about doing it.  Everyone says that once your kids are in school you as a parent make lots of friends through the kids and their friends.  Hasn't happened yet for me.

School pickup is the time that I see the most people. However, every afternoon I feel like I'm walking into a speed dating style cocktail party.  Look around for a familiar face.  Think of a talking point and hope that fills the couple of minutes before the bell rings and maybe leads to a longer conversation.  I always have the younger two with me - sometimes in the car, sometimes we walk.  Often times I'm too frazzled dealing with them to really talk to someone - and of course the days when I really want to talk to someone is when they are pulling on me asking for stuff.  Or if mine are behaving well, the other Mom's kid is tugging at her sleeve or asking for attention.  So far the vast majority of the Moms are very nice, but I haven't gotten in enough in-depth conversations to find mutual interests that can lead to friendships. I friend a lot of people of Facebook to find out more about them, and that usually gives me some openers - their new dog, recent vacation, whatever.  I just don't want to be phony, but I do try and be friendly.

My husband works long hours and depends on me to take care of our social agenda too. Gee thanks. I joined a women's group here in town about 7 years ago, and have lots of acquaintances through that, but no real friends.  It's was a very cliquey group when I first joined. Now there are a lot more fun people who are more genuine, but getting out of the house midweek to go to an event is tough.  I did organize one of our club's big events this year with a committee of about 15 people and while I got to know some of those women pretty well, none really that I would pursue as friends.  Although at least more familiar faces to talk to at these events. 

I guess part of it is that I never really dated and finding new friends to me seems very much like dating. A good conversation can lead to some sort of outing which eventually leads to more plans together etc now you have a friend. Sounds simple enough but juggling 3 kids and their lives and my husbands schedule it's hard to schedule me time which is one of my priorities this year.  Having said all that, one of my new goals is to each week contact someone each week and set up some sort of social event (whether it is my kids having a friend over, my husband and I going out with another couple, or me going to an event solo).  So far this Friday my husband and I are going out to dinner, next Saturday we have a couples event to go to, so now just need to set up something for my two daughters before school lets out at the end of next week.  Should be doable.

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