Dear Mom Who Was Maybe Looking For a New Friend:
If that was the case: I’m sorry. I just couldn’t today.
We both took our kids to the bookstore for probably the same reason: to keep ourselves from going crazy on a hot summer morning. And while the toddlers immersed themselves in their own, singular worlds with Thomas and the gang at the train table, I immersed myself in mine: standing next to my daughter on the phone. Just like my son when sensing the approach of bedtime or a request to share a toy with another child, I avoided eye contact at all costs.
Even when you mentioned your son just turned 8 months. (My daughter did too!)
Or when you casually asked another mom about different places to entertain your kid. (I know a bunch!)
Or when you dropped the tidbit that you just moved here. (I’ve lived here forever! What do you need to know?)
But I didn’t say any of those things. And that I regret. I just didn’t have it in me to socialize on any mommy/woman/friend level. It was one of those days, filled with teething struggles and potty training failures. And now I was in a bookstore, one of my favorite places, but unable to wander and gaze at the myriad of titles because of my parental obligation to be planted next to this train table which looked exactly like the one we have at home.
If I’m being honest, that day all I really wanted was to lie down in a quiet room by myself and not have any obligation to anyone or anything. But saying that out loud isn’t socially acceptable.So instead I stood, cloaked in the armor of the aloof: downcast eyes, back slightly turned, pursed lips as I sensed your desire to be friendly.
And I’m sorry. Because the second I walked out of the store, coffee in hand and a successful try on the potty (my son, not me…well if we’re being technical, both of us) under my belt, I realized I lost an opportunity. An opportunity to help, make a friend, and be kind.
Look, I can’t promise I won’t do this again. I can pretty much guarantee there will be many a morning where, full of temper tantrums, full of accidents and frustrations, I will feel like interacting with nobody. But I will promise to try.
So please understand the next time you see an unfriendly face, there might really be a friendly face somewhere in there. She’s just buried under the daily struggles of motherhood and a desire to lay down in a quiet room by herself just for a moment.
The Mom with Resting Bitchface Who is Really a Nice Person, Usually
P.S. Here are some tips I might have given you: library story times are free and a great way to meet other moms. Sign up for their summer reading program to get discounts and free stuff. The American History museum in DC has a great children’s play center. The movie theater at Mosaic has a cry baby matinee and across the road there are fountains. Order the kids’ meal for yourself at California Tortilla. It’s huge and cheaper. Don’t go to Wegman’s on a Saturday. The best teething toy for us has been a cold spoon. A little baking soda in the bath might help that diaper rash. Before buying tickets to a kids’ play place, look on Groupon. Trader Joe’s has stickers for kids if you ask; also they will sometimes let my toddler eat a banana for free.