The concrete jungle of playground equipment looms before me on this random Tuesday afternoon. Maybe this will be the day. The day I meet her: Mrs. Right. Heck, I’ll even take Mrs. Right Now. I’ve long since lost the fantasy of a perfect match. But these days, the prospect of finding a playdate seems slim to none.
The stay-at-home mom I seek isn’t for benefit of my boys. No, she’s for me. I’ve been off the market for a while, having babies, changing diapers, and potty training. Now that I’m ready to put myself out there again, it seems all the good ones are taken. What’s an attractive, intelligent, 40-year-old woman to do?
I approach the monkey bars with my sons, Gavin, 5, and Beckett, 3, eagerly looking for prospects. I spot one under the neon-green corkscrew sliding board. Maybe she too craves a new friend who understands the mind-numbing “Groundhog Day” of laundry, snacks, cleaning up, bedtime, repeat.
I remember, not so long ago, when making friends used to be easy. Before kids, I was fun, outgoing, and energetic. Yeah, I’ll say it: I was hot, hot, hot! But these days I’m a pantry full of Cheerios and a case of wet wipes away from being a survivalist. The scolds of “no” and “not now” are the only intelligent words that have crossed my lips these past five years. Sure I’ve memorized every Sesame Street and Laurie Berkner song ever recorded, and can act out the Itsy Bitsy Spider with Academy Award precision, but this impresses few, save the under-4 crowd.
I worry that I’ve been out of circulation too long. That my edge is gone and my appeal faded. Or worse, that I’ve lost the ability to speak the foreign language of adulthood. Still, I approach the woman.
“Hi, my name is Jane,” spills out of my mouth, a little too eagerly. “Hi,” she replies, looking a little caught off guard. “I’m Julie.” I bet she gets hit on all the time.
I introduce my boys, who made friends with her children in less than 40 seconds—the little showoffs—and begin the clumsy dance of probing her for information.
We exchange some pleasantries, like, “What a great day to be outside,” and “Wow, this park is clean,” and then I notice it. Right there in the middle of her shirt: a baby bump. We talk some more and I learn she’s due any day now. In other words: she’s off the market. For the next six months she’ll be devoid of any contact with the outside world. Enmeshed in that foggy malaise of sleep deprivation and baby vomit, she simply wouldn’t have time for a new relationship.
My fantasy of the two of us sipping Merlot on her back deck while our cherubs play perfectly together is dashed. The rumors are true. All the good ones are taken.
As I leave the playground, juggling my boys’ Cheerios bag, a tan rubber dinosaur, my car keys, three rocks, some acorns, and a sand-encrusted Hot Wheels car, I wonder, “Am I doomed to be single forever?”
I posed this question to another mom I tried to pick up last week. Sadly, she was already in a committed relationship with three gal-pals with children the same age as hers. (She’s a playdate polygamist!) But we discussed how hard it was to meet moms you want to hang out with: the fun ones, the happy ones, the ones without issues. She gave me hope. If she could date three at once, then surely I could land one. So I’ve re-doubled my efforts. After all, I am quality. Any mom would be lucky to have me as her playdate. Right?
Does Jane find a playdate? Follow Jane's quest in Desperately Seeking Playdate: Part 2.
Jane Suter is a playdate-seeking mom.