You get married. You conjure up some kids. You’ve kissed dating goodbye.
Or have you?
When you show up at the park for the first time with your little ones spilling out of the van (along with a healthy amount of cups and dirty napkins, if you’re like me), scan the swingset for anyone you might recognize, and notice that all the other moms are already hanging out in pairs, you realize that your dating years have only just begun.
When you were dating your man, you ate dinners for which you didn’t pay and walked through doors that he opened for you. When you date other moms, you pack extra baggies of healthy snacks and push doors open with your face while schlepping car seats. When you were dating your man, you wore incredible outfits and said, “Oh this old thing? I just threw it on last minute.” When you date other moms, you wear tees and yoga pants and say, “Oh this old thing? My toddler just threw up on it.”
I’ve recently met a new friend and I was thinking about our budding mom-lationship. Our kids attend some of the same activities, and we’ve enjoyed chatting while they harass their various coaches. I really like her, and I think she likes me, too. It’s like dating for moms. And just like the other kind of dating, there are bases.
First base is hanging out while your kids are in activities together. You make encouraging comments about each others’ kids as they scream hysterically and hit each other with kick boards and pretend light sabers. I like to go ahead and act a little weird on first base, just to give them a taste for where they’re headed if they stick with me. I’m terrible at small talk, so if I survive this phase with another mom, then I know she’s either desperate for a friend or really into me. I go too deep too soon, which scares off a mom just asking how many kids do I have. “Do you mean in my home, or in orphanages around the world? Here locally, or in a village in Uganda? Have you ever considered sponsoring a child? Wait, where are you going? Wanna hear about malaria and deworming?”
Second base is a park play date outside of scheduled activities. At this point, you’re hanging out because you want to and you set it up ahead of time. Your kids like each other. You like each other. This could be the start of something beautiful. At the park, you’re still on neutral territory. I usually throw in a snort laugh right around here. The conversation could wade into deeper waters. Someone might toss out an opinion or two. Keep it loving, girls. Keep it gracious. If you love gluten-free, feel free to talk about it. If you love Jesus, feel free to talk about Him. Just don’t start talking in absolutes, making broad, generalizing statements, because you may never make it to third.
We do that sometimes, don’t we?
Overly-intense eye contact. Never use while discussing homeschooling, gluten, gun control, breastfeeding, marriage, red dye number 40, infertility, or Jesus. I may have left a few things out. If there’s a subject that might cause you to stop blinking and/or breathing, save it for fourth base and don’t unleash it at the park.
They might feel like this:
Third base is a play date at one of our houses. This is a tricky base because your kids are now on home court and your new friend is going to see your daughter body slam her toddler to the ground and take back the toy that he just picked up. She will see the layer of dried-on grime coating your kid’s chair at the table, and she will notice the unflushed dooky from your son’s morning dump. Third base is not for the weak. It’s about to get real up in here. There could be laundry piles. You better have the relational stamina for this kind of commitment. By third base, I’m full frontal hugging, so prepare for that. If you’re my third base friend, get ready for our boobs smashed up together while I ask how you’re doing right in your ear. If you answer that with any kind of trauma, I’m a-gonna pull it right back together for another mash up, breathe some words of encouragement into your ear, then pull back for some heavy eye contact. (Upon reading this, my husband informed me, “Who are you kidding? You’re easy. You go for full frontal hugging on first base.” So I’m a hug-slut. Bring it in, ladies. I’m ready. If this sounds appealing to you, click the “hug me” button on the right for some digital love.)
Fourth base is hanging out without the kids. I know. Whoa. The kids have become optional. You can actually meet at a restaurant, movie theater, coffee shop, or bookstore and talk. Uninterrupted. For hours. Just because you want to, not because you’re killing time while your kids do their thing. You have arrived. This person is worth spraying on your fancy jeans. Feel free to bust out your full-blown honk laugh, talk about how soy gives you diarrhea, and how you worry that you’re a crappy mom. You’ve found your person. She loves you for you.
To my fourth-basers: I love you more than words can say. Let’s get our date on soon. I’ll dust off my fancy jeans, we can eat Thai coconut soup and talk about not our kids. We’re gonna get hot and heavy, mom-style. Fourth base for moms is so much better than dating fourth base. There’s dessert, staying out till the security guard kicks you out of the mall parking lot, and no walk of shame as you crawl into bed next to your racked out hubs. One fourth-base mom date will last me for a couple of months. It’s just that fulfilling.
Jump in, girls. Dating for moms is super fun, and you just might get lucky.
Want to know more about mom dating and rounding the bases? Click here to learn more about my new book “Women Are Scary: The Totally Awkward Adventure of Finding Mom Friends.”
Need to break up with a mom-date?
Dating for Moms: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do is your guide to navigating the dicey world of mommy breakups. Get educated and prepare yourself. This post contains a seasonal guide to play date excuses.