Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My daughter is heading off to school this fall and I’m the nervous one. Not because of sending her off or anything like that (she and I have been doing it since she was 3 and started preschool with the school district) but because I am the youngest mommy in the classroom.
I’m a single mom who lives in a smallish town and while I’ve gotten used to the looks in the grocery store and the inconvenience of becoming the town’s favorite old maid (at 24), I don’t want to stunt her popularity with the other kids. We had parents’ night and other than one mom who is a year older than I am, all the other mommies had a good 10 years on me. (It doesn’t help that the teacher has been teaching nearly as long as I’ve been alive). So my question is, how can I make friends with the other mommies and get them to see me as a FRIEND and not “that baby who had a baby herself”?
Dear Socially Stunted,
Back when my sons were in preschool, there a woman called Uniqua (not her real name) who had two kids about the same age as mine called Tyrone and Pablo (again, fake names) (also, they weren’t blue and yellow and good at choreography). Everybody loved Uniqua’s kids, however, she always kept her distance from the other mothers. Finally one day, after being around each other for years, I had a real conversation with her. And she told me that the reason she was antisocial was because she felt self-conscious about not having as much money as everyone else.
“I always feel like the other women snub me,” she said.
Then I put my hand on her shoulder and said something that I remember being very Dalai Lama/Oprah-esque. But it was probably more like, “Damn, Uniqua, you a dumbass, girl. Pull yo head out, a’ight?” (I may not look it, but I have a plethora of “street cred.”) Because while nobody cared about how much money Uniqua had, we definitely cared about her not even trying to be part of the group.
And that’s where I think you’re similar to Uniqua: you’re giving the other mothers a reason to not be your friend via the big ol’ chip on your shoulder. Do they care that you’re 10 years younger? That you had a baby when you were 21? That you’re not married? Maybe, but that’s their problem, not yours.
In order to develop real friendships, you need to let go of your insecurities and just be yourself. Own who you are. Be friendly and approachable. Volunteer to help out at school. Invite your daughter’s friends over to your house for playdates and make sure she’s friendly and polite when she goes over to their houses. Give the other mothers no excuse but to like you and they’ll welcome you as a peer.
I think you and your daughter are going to have a wonderful year.
Wendi, TMH (not my real name)