One thing that astounds me about parenthood is how long you can go without knowing another mother’s name – a really ridiculous amount of time. Several months ago, I took my daughters on a play date to another mom’s apartment. I met the mom at a kids class and she was nice enough to invite us over on a crummy, rainy day. Her name? No clue. I kept meaning to ask and then it just seemed too late. During our play date, I scanned the apartment for a piece of mail, a personalized picture frame, anything that would hold the answer. But I saw nothing. I mean, I couldn’t dig through her drawers. Nice lady. Whatever her name is.
And it’s not just the names. You can know everything about a child and know almost nothing about the mom. Take my friend Julie. I have known Julie for three years. I can tell you endless facts about her daughter Ella. Ella is an extremely picky eater, loves lollipops, currently hates dresses (although her parents did manage to get her to wear one for her birthday), big telletubbies fan and has fabulous red hair. But Julie? One day I just happened to find out that this former prosecutor used to be a ballerina. Ooh la la. Then two days ago, I discover that she is fluent in French. How many other sophisticated secrets is Julie keeping? Now I’m not sure I’m even savvy enough to be her friend.
But sometimes it’s just not about the names or the professions or the past lives. It’s about having someone to talk to about pacifier addictions, toddler tantrums or preschool admissions stress. Of course, often there are husbands around. But most sweet hubbys want to stop talking and fix the problem – even if there isn’t an immediate solution. So a mama needs a few gals around.
Several weeks after I gave birth to Summer (the artist formerly known as Presley), another mom, whom I didn’t know, approached me at the playground and asked if I was ok. The truth? Not really. And I couldn’t fake it. I told her about my nauseating fatigue and horrible mastitis, a very painful infection from breastfeeding. A week later, I ran into her again. She said, “I’ve been thinking about you. How are you?” Thankfully, I was much better. I was truly touched that she cared enough to ask. On that day, our names didn’t matter at all.