Picture yourself on a playground with your small children. You’re pushing your little precious in a swing next to a fellow mom who’s doing the same. You start chatting because, well, 2-year-olds are pretty horrible at carrying on decent conversations about anything other than candy, puppies, and potentially Mickey Mouse. Also, it feels awkward and socially irresponsible to not speak with the adult standing next to you, even if you are avoiding eye contact.
And, surprise, surprise! You hit it off! The conversation blows past “So, how old is your kid?” and slides right into “Um, er, well, we come to this park a lot, so if you ever want to, you know, meet here on purpose…”
But then, inevitably, nap-time tantrums strike before she can even answer. You waited too long to become best friends, so you’re left with the bereft notion that your new, favorite mom-friend just walked out of your life, never to be seen again, except potentially in a semi-awkward encounter in the produce section in Publix. It’ll only be semi-awkward because you’ve mentally and emotionally invested in your entire mom-related relationship, and she won’t remember your name, giving you a vague wave and smile of partial-recognition.
Sad day all around.
I had a few of these experiences when George was very small. That’s when a brillllliant idea struck hard and fast.
Business cards for the stay-at-home-mom crowd. I believe they were dubbed “calling cards” in the glory days of Jane Austen.
OK, I obviously didn’t invent business cards. I’m not delusional, even after missing my mid-afternoon “sleep when the kids sleep” nap today. I remember my initial delight when I was presented with my first box of personalized business cards during my newspaper-reporting days. (This was before I realized I should hoard my contact information so the crazies wouldn’t be able to call my cell phone in order to share what they wanted to see in the paper… Sorry, former boss, if you’re reading this. I just didn’t have that news-dog nose of a die-hard reporter, willing to sniff out every story. I failed to mention this in my interview.)
In my current stage of life, I need something I can pass along quickly that won’t feel intrusive or stalkerish. Finding mom friends is a LOT like dating. It’s weird, I know. You don’t want to come on too strong and seem like a weirdo, but you want to let them know you’re interested. But not too interested, if you catch my drift. And what if you seem to like them more than they like you? Do you like doing the same mommy activities? Will she end up being super clingy, insisting on playdate after playdate?
And, in the mommy world, there are other issues, such as:
If you meet a stranger and hit it off, do you ask for her phone number? Could that make her worry you may actually be a kidnapper and want to snatch her child? And what if you’re a psycho who is trying to lure her and her babies into your “supposedly” baby-proofed house? Then again, what if she’s are a psycho trying to lure you and your babies into her house for nefarious purposes? Will you get to her house and realize she only uses cloth diapers and glass bottles? Does that mean you have anything in common? (The answer to that inane question is a resounding “Yes!” by the way.)
Tip of the iceberg, people.
But, here’s the beauty of a business card. When it’s clearly time to get the kiddos into the minivans, you can just slip her a card with a self-conscious chuckle. I always seem to say, “So, uh, this is me…” And then I watch her read my card’s little catchphrase, which makes everyone smile.
My cards don’t include actual contact information, unless we really hit it off (or I see potential in that happening. Or I’m just overly optimistic). They just have my full name and this blog. That way, stranger-mom can track me down on Facebook and scope out my online life. Then she can friend me and see that my life is pretty normal and probably looks a lot like hers (though, potentially with more 3-year-old discussions on the periodic table of elements). Also, I can Facebook-stalk her a bit to decide if she’s my cuppa tea.
Is this waaay too passive? I’m not sure, but it’s worked a few times. I think this is the day and age in which we live. It’s also a fun, easy tool to use as a ministry. I do try to tell people upfront that I’m a regular churchgoer. Unfortunately, we also live in a day when that doesn’t automatically mean you’re a Christian, but I don’t want to blindside anyone with my faith. It’s important to me, and while I realize it’s not important to everyone, I think it’s fair to put it out there. Like, I don’t do play dates on Sunday mornings, but hit me up on weekdays, because Mama needs a friend. I can chat about Jesus, Dancing with the Stars, and the best way to take a toddler to Disney, all over the ear-piercing pitch of toddlers playing. Just let me know where you stand, and we’ll get started.
In a nutshell, I hand out cards because I want to communicate how I’d like to get to know you better, but if you’re not interested or, frankly, too busy, that’s cool too. The ball is in your court, so you do you. It bugs me how people don’t take initiative these days. If you run into someone you hit it off with, make a move! Make a friend! And if you want to come hang out for a play date, I’ll bring the Goldfish and fruit snacks, because you seem cool, and we should hang out.
FYI – I purchased these from Office Max for $20 for 100. Inevitably, some have gotten lost and damaged, but I keep little stacks of them in my purse, diaper bag, wallet, etc. They’re just really handy.
Also, if you could use a few more tips on surviving playgrounds, here’s my list of 10 strategies to cope with those potential minefields.