Making mom friends: playgrounds & gonorrhea pee

May 29 2018 | arielmstallings

I mentioned recently on Offbeat Empire that some of the content being cut from my second book is going to be showing up here on Offbeat Home & Life… here's a slice!

Wanna be my mom friend? shirt by Etsy seller The Poetry of Us

Remember when I wrote about making friends as a grown-up? I talked about putting the work in, being forward and direct, and making plans — not just talking about making plans! Friendships don't "just happen." But sometimes the work that goes into making friends means reaching out to be there for people when they need you. Here's a story…

One Wednesday, I left work around 2:35 to walk to my son Tavi’s school to pick him up. I love these 15-minute power walks from my office through my treed Seattle neighborhood, but I pause my stomping for a second to peek into the new spa that opened on the north end of Capitol Hill's 15th Avenue.

“Ariel,” someone calls out, and I look over and it’s Annabelle, mother of Matisse, who is one-fourth of son's bro-gang, which they call Team Glidiators.

Annabelle is getting her nails done.

“Oh lookit you!” I say. "Treating yourself!” She’s a former nurse, now stay-at-home mom of two and doesn’t get much time to herself.

“I know,” she says. “But they’re running behind. Can you grab ‘Tisse when you get Tavi?”

“Of course,” I say. “We’ll probably just hang out at the playground for a bit — I’ll text you.”

15 minutes later, I’m picking up Tavi and Matisse and we’re heading for the playground. Cate, mother of one of the other Glidiators, is there picking up her son Davi (yes, like Tavi — it's hilarious), and we settle in at a table while the dudes run off to their favorite Glidiator corner of the school yard.

I send Annabelle a text: “Dudes are playing. Don’t even worry about coming down — go home and chill! I’ll walk Matisse home in an hour or so.” What I don’t say, because I don’t know her that well yet: “Dude, go home and jack off. I got this.”

Cate and I catch up, and then Annabelle shows up 10 minutes later, looking flustered and rushed.

“Oh, you texted?” she says. I guess she was walking when I texted, but whatever. She’s here now, and we all settle in to chat.

Cate is a nurse, and hanging out with her and Annabelle is always hilarious because when they get talking they get medical. Even though I am crass and disgusting and NOT squeamish, somehow they always get into nurse talk that’s almost too much even for me. (Almost!) This time it was Cate’s story about someone at a McDonald’s with a catheter bag of cloudy green pee that does me in.

“Oh,” Annabelle says, nodding. “Gonorrhea pee,” and Cate’s like, “Exactly!” and I put my head down on my hands and choke out “NURSES, MAN,” in between laughing too hard. “Y’all are so gross. I love it.”

Then another mom sidles up. She has three kids and I don’t know her as well, but she immediately dives into a story about her daughter humping the grocery cart, while her brothers whine, “Mom, gross — she’s humping the cart again.”

Then there are stories of bathtub farts trapped in tupperware, and a two-year-old with his finger up his butt, and Tavi telling me, “My penis hurts if I pinch it really hard” (yeah, dude: don’t do that, then), and the sheer volume of school emails that go out, and next thing you know we’re the last people left at the playground and it’s 5pm and the kids look exhausted and happy and it’s time go.

Later there are texts, and I think to myself, “I’m so glad I can model this for my kid. This is what making friends looks like.”

What does making mom-friends look like to you? Did you have to ask for help? Offer help? Talk about gonorrhea pee?

  1. I'd say this is more about having mom friends and maintaining those friendships rather than how you made those friendships to begin with. Were your kids friends first and you met through them? Did you always see each other at pick up and started chatting that way? Have you ever met up away from the playground?

    1 agrees
    • For me, it was the kids getting along a bit, and then us moms encouraging it by establishing our own friendships… starting with pick-up/drop-off chats, evolving to playground hangs, and then ultimately getting to "away from kids" hangouts… these kid-free hangs are definitely more frequent with moms with whom I have lifestyle overlap, ie other single parents who have shared custody and designated "adult days" where we can grab a drink or whatever.

      (Side note: I truly wish that more of my married parent friends took time for themselves in the way that split custody forces those of us who are divorced to do. It's SO IMPORTANT for caregivers to have time and adult relationships to themselves, and I hate that for many folks, it's not until being forced by divorce & custody issues that they actually feel ok about time away from their children…)

      15 agree
      • I think (as a married parent) what's really enabled us to have time to ourselves as adults is that we have the same friends, many of whom are not parents, so that when our friends make evening plans, one of us can go and the other gets some 1-on-1 time with kiddo.

        We're both into tabletop RPGs, and it's worked really well to have an almost completely overlapping campaign group, so my spouse gets to play a Star Wars game and I get to play some cool funky indie games (shorter campaigns) and we don't have to worry about our games ever conflicting because 80% of the people we play with are the same people. There's only been one evening when my side gig ended up conflicting with my spouse's game and he had to miss it (because the paying gig had to take priority). We'd love to play together, too, but that's on hold until our kiddo is a little older and better at going to bed.

        We've also been able to take time together as a couple by taking weekdays off work a few times (and then taking kiddo to daycare, since we paid for it anyway!) or when my parents come to visit.

        1 agrees
      • I have the opposite situation with my friend group. They are all married with spouses who will each happily swap solo parent time so they can both take time for themselves. While I’m a single parent who has basically 100% custody. (Their dad sees them but has never had both kids overnight.)

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