My husband and I got married young, two years out of college. We were the first ones in our social circle to tie the knot, and I suppose it follows that parenthood came to us early too.
My earliest memories of motherhood are really about motherhood: me and my LittleMan and our small, simple rituals. I took long, long walks from one end of the city to the other, cared for and fed my baby, napped him on schedule, folded laundry, blogged, and planned meals for our little family. I worked a couple of days a week — a strange, stressful parallel life that seemed squeezed up against my earth-shattering new job as a mom — and had a few friends here and there. But it wasn’t long before the exodus began and those friends who did have children left the workforce and left the city for larger homes and quieter neighborhoods, and I was, for the most part, alone with my baby in the day-to-day. I wasn’t into mother’s groups and found music class with my six-month-old to be a little bit of a scam, so aside from a weekly swim lesson I didn’t really have access to other moms.
When LittleMan was nine months old we moved from our long, dark, 1st floor flat to a bright high-rise apartment in the heart of the financial district. It was a far cry from the suburbs my friends were retreating for, but I loved it because I felt connected to the city in a way that I hadn’t in my quiet, back-of-the-flat kitchen. Moreover, LittleMan was bigger, stronger, and on-the-move.
There is a park about a mile and a half from our apartment (we live there, still), designed specifically for pre- and early-walkers. Within a week of our move, this became my daily destination. A meal, a rest, a walk down the waterfront to the South Beach Marina. There were Mandarin- and Russian-speaking nannies, each congregated in their corners. There was a preschool that made a daily visit to the park for sandplay. There was the scent of sunscreen in the air, a constant flurry of securing little hats on little heads. And there were MOMS: city-dwelling moms like myself, on leave or on sabbatical or recently converted full-time mothers, who took runs along the water and grabbed coffee and sat in the park and then took elevators to their two-bedroom apartments downtown.
The more I hung out with these moms, in the sun and the fog and the wind, the more we shared about our kids and our workout routines, our onetime careers and our husbands, the more I began to wonder: Should we Mom-Date? Would our relationships work outside of the park fence? Could we, say, grab a meal before nap time? Maybe…even…meet for a glass of wine one evening without the kids if our husbands got home early? Would we, could we, ever graduate to Couples Dating? Would our husbands get along? Could these park acquaintances become…friends?
Like, well, pretty much everything about the first year of motherhood, Mom-Dating is a phenomenon you don’t think about until you do.
There is the nervousness: I mean, we seem to have a lot in common and I think we could really take it to the next level, but is it too soon to get her number and plan something?
There is the pre-emptive, self-deprecating jealousy: Whatever, she doesn’t need me, she’s so nice she probably has loads of other mom-friends already who jog with their matching Bob strollers and her mornings are already spoken for. Right?
There are the logistics: Are our kids close enough in age? Do our nap schedules align? Is she one of those music class - baby yoga - nursing group moms who needs to be engaged all the time?
Fortunately, one of the moms at the park spared us all the agony and collected emails one afternoon. Our husbands were both traveling and she insisted we should actually plan to get together. She became the linchpin of our little crowd until — you guessed it — one by one the babies became toddlers and second pregnancies were announced and the apartment leases came up, replaced by mortgages in Denver, Mill Valley, Walnut Creek.
But I remain friends with that mom to this day. I am eternally grateful that she broke the ice and provided me with my first real community of mothers. Our boys learned to walk in that park. Together we took them to the zoo for the first time, attended the free circus performance near her apartment on Sundays, cleaned up grilled cheeses from under restaurant high chairs, rented our first bouncy house, enjoyed too much champagne while betting on the Oscars, and so so much more.
I was recently browsing the ever-expanding Minted website and stumbled across their Mommy Calling Cards. Immediately I flashed back to those Mom-Dating years, thought how clever it was for Minted to take the business card concept and extend it to a different kind of workforce, where promotions are measured in free time and fewer tantrums, and where connections at the playground can be as career-altering as connections in the boardroom. Where you're too busy engaging with your baby to engage with your iPhone -- unless it's that new friend calling that you made at the park.
So go on, you. Make a friend today. It just might change your life.
Calling Cards come in hundreds of Minted’s signature, community-contributed designs and can be customized with as much or as little information as you like about yourself and your little one. Thanks to Minted for their support of this post.
Photos: Laura Kudritzki Photography
Hair & Make-up: Pretty Parlor
Shot on location at Recess Urban Recreation, San Francisco