“Picking Up” Isn’t What It Used To Be

Modern Parent

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My daughter and I are hanging out at Starbucks. She happily sucks on a rice cake as I sip a latte. Every few minutes, the cafe door opens, and I look up. I’m not waiting for my husband or a friend. I’m trying to pick up. It’s a woman I’m after, preferably one with a baby roughly my daughter’s age.

I need a BMF, a Best Mom Friend.

I had a BMF when we lived in Tbilisi, Georgia. Our daughters were the same age. I could call her whenever. She could always relate. A journalist like me, we would talk about everything from poop to politics. Now in London, I’m cruising cafes and parks, looking to meet women. It’s pathetic.

Everywhere I go, I see mom friends hanging out with their children. At the Starbucks, at shops, pushing strollers down my street. I imagine they’re very happy together.

In the UK, many moms make friends in their NCT (National Childbirth Trust) classes, where they learn about delivering and caring for babies. I delivered my baby in Florida, spent another year in Tbilisi, Georgia, and then moved to London when my daughter was a year old.

When we first got here, my BMF from Georgia hooked me up with her London friend. This friend has a baby girl my daughter’s age. She invited my family to lunch. She was lovely, as were her family and friends. I wrote her an email afterward. She wrote right back, but then I never heard from her again. I suspect it was my turn to invite her out. I never was any good at real dating either.

Starbucks is a failure.

I try the park. While my daughter rides the swing, I keep an eye out for potential friends. There are plenty of women about. Most are in their 20s — practically half my age — and are probably nannies. I can tell by how they’re glued to their cell phones and plying toddlers with snacks to keep them quiet.

Finally, through the park gates walks a woman in her mid-30s with a toddler my daughter’s age. The woman is pretty and wearing a smart dress. She hasn’t succumbed to Mommy frumpydum. I respect that, even if I have. She puts her kid on a swing.

I keep pushing my daughter, desperately trying to think of something to say. Just as I’m about to ask her daughter’s age — a classic mom pickup line — another woman shows up (equally smartly dressed) and plunks her child down in the swing between ours’. They know each other. They’re friends; mom friends.

I used to have edge and make friends easily. I was a reporter and could talk to anyone. Now I’m a mom who spends hours sitting on a floor stacking rings on a stick and reading books about bunnies.

The mom friends leave, and I’m about to go too. But it’s a warm afternoon and my daughter is content. I keep pushing her on the swing and making silly faces. I do love this time with her — I have to say this; one day she’ll be able to read – but really I’m thinking how much I miss those trips to the park and the zoo and really anywhere with my old BMF and our girls.

Just as I’m thinking of leaving, an attractive woman arrives with a toddler my daughter’s age. She puts her daughter in the swing next to mine. With no one else around, the silence is awkward. We start with the usual routine. How old are the girls? Only child or siblings? Etc., etc.

That’s when I realize it may be my lucky day. She’s American and friendly, with a slight southern drawl. I like her straight away. Our daughters are a week apart — just like with my old BMF’s daughter.

We move onto the sandlot where the girls orbit one another, and we moms chat. Eventually, nap time approaches and we pack up to go home. We say we’ll see each other around.

But then, as I’m pushing my daughter in her stroller out of the gate, I turn back. I’m nervous but determined. This really is like dating.

“Do you want to meet up sometime, like here at the park or for a coffee?” I ask.

“I would,” she says. “You know, I always say ‘see you around’, but then you don’t. I’d love to meet up.”

So finally I’ve done it. I’ve got a mommy date.

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