By Ranjani Aravind for Twisted Tiara
Anyone who knows me well knows that I am an anti-social person. In the sense that I actively avoid large groups and have an extensive list of excuses about why I can’t make it to a party or a social gathering. There’s something just so incredibly challenging about making small talk with strangers: I find it incredibly irritating and mundane. I find it irritating because you can never get good at it; you either can or can’t, and I definitely can’t. I’ve often been told that my famous Resting Bitch Face (RBF) combined with my sarcastic sense of humour isn’t exactly a recipe for success for making new friends.
I had a baby recently and I caught myself reeling from the sudden loneliness that comes with being surrounded by a tiny human who never leaves your side. I started to see my childless friends dwindle and gradually disappear as I started my very long year of maternity leave. I desperately wanted to find this proverbial village that will help raise my son; the problem is that they were very hard to come by. I needed new, mommy friends.
The aforementioned RBF that I have used to be something I was proud of. It kept the lurkers away, and people who were genuinely interested in my friendship would invest time and effort before I’d let them in. This, however, was the first time in my life I found myself actively seeking friends. How the heck was I supposed to find friends so far out of my comfort zone? So, while my son slept in my arms one night at 3 am, I browsed my phone for mom groups in the area. There were a barrage of hits that I got through this. On a whim and before I could change my mind, I signed up for a few “baby & me” classes.
I plastered a fake, constipated smile on my RBF to and entered the gym, baby in arm. There was no way that “Baby and Me Yoga” existed for any other reason than to meet other moms. Together, we bedraggled mothers contorted our bodies in different positions while our wee ones screamed and kicked. I pushed my trust issues to one side, waded through the pandemonium of personalities, and struck up conversations with the help of the dreaded small talk.
Now, small talk with moms is different from the usual “weather sucks, eh?” that other civilians have with each other. Small talk with moms include poop talk (consistency, color and texture), how the kid kept you up all night, and the perils of teething. The trick is to bring up a topic and let them do the talking; every mom is desperate to tell their story to anybody who cares to listen.
The personalities, I encountered in that forced ecosystem, can be broadly classified under the following categories:
The “Over Sharer Mom”
Like me, these moms are desperate for some kind of lovin’ from their fellow moms. They tend to over share with anybody and everybody who will listen to them. This could range from the blood bath that was their labour experience, to the relationship troubles they are having with their husbands post-baby. Over sharers are easy to spot; one way to identify one is when you know more about the issues they have with their mother-in-law before you know their name.
The “I’ve-Given-Up-On-Life Mom”
Typically, you see these moms slumped up against a back wall while you see their kids screaming and running around, oblivious to the plight of their poor mothers. There’s not much to talk about with these moms, they’ve gone through it all and they are done.
The “Matching Outfit Mom”
These moms are well turned out, always. They make you wonder where you went wrong in life. Their kids wear white…and those clothes stay white. I can’t remember the last time my son wore matching socks. So, no surprise there that I quickly swerve away from them. Nobody needs that kind of negativity! 😉
The “Work Out Mom”
She’s the one that jogs to the play gym. This is a magical unicorn of a woman who has 6-pack abs 2 days after giving birth. Sometimes, she just dives on to the floor to show the rest of the moms how to do a push up or a burpee. ‘Nuff said, I don’t fit in here either.
The “Hippie Mom”
This is the mom that will refuse to put even a band-aid on her little one if it isn’t organic and non-GMO. She looks at you disdainfully as your little one munches on a store bought baby mum-mum cracker while hers’ eats a leaf of cabbage grown from her organic garden.
The “Facebook Mom”
You met this woman once and she tracked you down with her intense stalking skills. You’ll likely never see her again, but you’ll know how young Joey is doing, because she posts about it 23 times a day. She will also do that Facebook thing that everyone hates; she’ll put up statuses like “Joey’s mommy is feeling sad”, and cue a barrage of replies from nosy friends asking if she is alright, leading up to the comment “I’ll DM you”.
The “Soulmate Mom”
This is the one where it doesn’t matter what kind of category you fall under, you just click. This is the woman who, when your kid eats dirt, just looks at you and shrugs understandingly. The one that doesn’t have to tell you how bad a night it was, you just know by the number of hair strands poking out from their unkempt ponytail. It’s an unsaid bond. You sit next to each other while your kids run astray, munching on your UN-organic snacks that are definitely store bought, no judgement. Before you know it, you’re best friends and together, you wipe poop off inconceivable surfaces.
It’s safe to say that I am a combination of all the above moms. I can be all of them and more some days.
Over time, I have managed to curate a band of mothers that also don’t have a clue on what they are doing. They have come through for me through the bad times and have celebrated the good times, and have helped me become the mom that I always hoped to be. For that, I am ever grateful.