In the last month Sydney and I have been visiting a nearby playground very regularly. It's awesome! It's very new, has a very toddler-friendly rubberized surface underneath everything, and the jungle gym has big gradual steps and easy to ride slides that Sydney loves. Don't even get me started on the fact that it's totally enclosed by a fence, has nice grass areas to play BALL! … I love this playground. Also, for the most part, the moms (and let's be honest, nannies) that play with their kids there are very nice.
Arriving at the playground for the first time felt very much like the first day of school in a new city for me. Here is this group of people who all seem to know one another already, chatting and pushing their kids on the swings and chasing them under the swinging bridge, and here is me, "the new kid" with her own "new kid." Luckily, toddlers have no fear (at least mine doesn't). As soon as I put Sydney down she was on the run to approach other kids, playing with a stray basketball, and taking a ride on someone else's scooter. Mom-to-mom you have to laugh and apologize as you run after your kid hollering his/her name right after they've bopped another kid on the head with a sandbox shovel. You quickly learn other kids' names. Other moms learn YOUR kid's name. And then there comes that moment when you know you have to work up the courage to introduce yourself and stick out your hand in greeting.
For the most part, I am usually the first one to introduce myself. I'm naturally outgoing. But for whatever reason when I'm at the playground it's harder. It doesn't help that at this playground (in Los Angeles can I remind your for the billionth time) there is a clique of moms who are perfectly groomed, have tight stomachs, and big-ass diamond rings. They all look the same in their Ugg boots and Seven For All Mankind
Jeans and puffy vests and they only seem to like talking to each other. I see a few of them walk to the the playground from their homes nearby (if I'm honest, there's probably only three ladies at the playground like this but man do they STAND OUT). The place is about a mile from where I live but in a slightly more affluent area, the type where people are tearing down old houses and building huge McMansions to take their place (so goes property value in LA).
Me and the other moms – let's call us "Drive-Ups" for the sake of ID – chat age spacing between siblings and toddler shoes and baby names and other mom stuff. We admire the sandcastles our children make and exchange pleasantries as we push them on the swings. We cringe together when a local lady brings her dog to the playground EVERY DAY for KISSES (even when there's a sign that clearly RESTRICTS pets. I wonder how long it will go on before I say something … it drives me nuts).
I started going to the playground to get Sydney outside, of course, but I also hoped that maybe? I'd make a new friend with kids. One day when I was there I met the sweetest woman about my age who had three beautiful little girls. She was so friendly, and was my type of gal … she went down the slide with her kids! Even though they could go down the slide by themselves! And she was wearing sweatpants and ratty Ugg boots just like me! When we left that day I was kicking myself that I hadn't gotten her phone number … I'd really enjoyed talking with her. I took Sydney again the next day at the same time hoping that she'd be there again. I immediately recognized her three daughters on the jungle gym … with their dad. Bummer, until she came walking up a few minutes later! And we chatted it up! And it turns out that they only live two blocks from us! And then she asked for MY phone number!
A month has passed and we've already attended their youngest daughter's first birthday party and the girls came over for dinner this week when the dad – a firefighter – was working. We've talked a lot about the jungle gym since and have both confessed that we'd been hoping to connect with another mom. So far so good! I have been so blessed so much by this friendship already in such a short time.
I guess I'm writing all this to beg of you … be brave at the playground. Introduce yourself to other moms. Don't let the clique of moms get you down. I guarantee that there's a mom out there who is looking for a friend too. She's just waiting for you to talk to her.