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I am a Friend Predator

These women are exactly my type of prey.

Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, I’ve started to channel a lot of my social life into tiny interactions with strangers. Maybe to an unhealthy degree. 

Yesterday, as I was pulling out of the driveway to go to Costco, I saw a woman around my age pushing a double stroller with an infant and a toddler. This was very exciting to me because we live in a neighborhood full of vintage homes, which means we live in a neighborhood full of vintage people. I don’t know of another young family on our block, and it is pretty rare to see someone under 40 out and about. And because we’re still new to the area, anyone pushing a stroller down my block is a candidate to be my future best friend. 

I know I sound desperate, and maybe I am. I have many good friends scattered across the globe. From San Francisco, Boston, Sacramento, Seattle, and Norway, I have collected kindred spirits from every season of life so far. I even have a tiny handful of friends nearby, but they work full-time and don’t have kids. While I do what I can to maintain all of these friendships, what I really long for right now is a tribe.

A tribe of people in our town who help each other and support each other through parenthood and life. Although sometimes I wonder if my tribe just isn’t here, I haven’t given up. So when I see a young mom out with her kiddos, I say hi. 

Even if that means pulling over my car and rolling down the window like a bonafide creeper. 

This is how our dialogue went:

Me, rolling down window: Hey there! Who are your little ones?
Her: Uh. This one is mine, and that one I’m just babysitting for. 
Me: Oh cool! They are so cute. 
Pause
Me: I have a little one too. 
Her: Oh…ok. 

And that was the end of it.

Now, if I had blogged about this encounter right after it happened, it would have read like this:

You won’t believe this, guys. I was totally nice and friendly to this mom my age and she shunned me. What a rotten person. I wonder if she judged me because my windshield is cracked. Ugh, I have to get that fixed. What is wrong me with? Am I socially inept? Should I just never leave the house? Is it my gigantic nose? WHY DID SHE REJECT ME? You know what, come to think of it, I didn’t do anything wrong. I was kind and neighborly, and SHE is the one with the problem. Not me, HER. What kind of rude person would shun a hilarious and gorgeous person like me? I wouldn’t want to be friends with someone like that anyways, SO THERE. 

Yep, I would have unleashed about 900 words of that kind of subtle, wry insight into the world. 

The Internet can thank me for taking a day to think.

A few hours later, I started to think about the fact that maybe Rude Mom was having a really tough day. Or maybe she is really shy, or maybe she is the socially awkward one. Or maybe in this day and age, it is really weird and frightening for someone to pull over and roll down their window to chat with you. I started to give her a little grace. 

By this morning, I realized I had missed the point entirely. 

I go into interactions with strangers hoping to get something in return. Most recently, I start conversations with young moms in hopes of hitting it off because I am lonely for female friends. I am basically the girl equivalent to these guys: 

My friendliness comes from a pretty selfish place. Otherwise, why would I have spiraled into a crazy person when some stranger doesn’t reciprocate my kindness? If you have a less-than-pleasant interaction with someone you’ll never see again, who cares. But if you have a less-than-pleasant interaction with your potential new best friend, it’s a big blow. 

I will never stop being friendly to strangers, and that includes young moms and old ladies and homeless guys in the park. But I’m going to recheck my motives. Friendships will happen if they are supposed to, and saying “hi” to someone isn’t a litmus test for being besties. It is just a “hi.”

I am going to try and stop being a Friend Predator. 

As I am writing this post, a hipster-ish looking young couple walked past my house, clutching paper coffee cups and a jogging stroller. Like the bad guy in a horror movie, I followed them with my eyes for a long time as they walked down the block. They seemed like nice people.

But I didn’t dash out in my yoga pants and bubble gum pink Minnie Mouse sweatshirt to say, “HI, DO YOU LIVE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, YOUR KID IS CUTE, I HAVE A KID TOO, WE SHOULD BE BESTIES!”

If it is meant to be, I’ll see them again. 

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31 Comments

  1. Daniela Davis Walsh on January 17, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Ha ha this is awesome and totally me! Any young couple we meet – afterwards – I’m like “oh my gosh I just loved them maybe we should invite them over!” It is out of desperation for female friends when you don’t live by family or your old friends. I’m glad to know in not the only one that does this! πŸ™‚

    xo
    Daniela
    Put A Bird On It

    • creatingmom on January 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Hi Daniela! It does make it harder when you’re a transplant not living near family or your old network. I get jealous thinking of my friends that have that support group they grew up in… But sometimes life calls you away from your hometown. Which is also a good thing in many ways. Glad to know there are other Predators out there.

  2. Janelle @ The Smudge Curve on January 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Although I haven’t braved approaching a stranger, I totally feel the same way. Without having family around I desire a “motherhood support group” of sorts. Maybe some day it’ll happen!

    • creatingmom on January 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      I have no qualms about approaching strangers but I am learning that maybe I SHOULD. haha. Good luck to you, I hope you do find a great support group. It is tough to do it alone.

  3. Ingrid on January 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    This is a good topic to tackle! The difficulty of making and keeping friends is one of the most unexpected aspects of motherhood. There are so many complicating factors: meeting people, limited time to invest in relationships, willingness to be vulnerable, the ages/stages of kids being compatible, do the husbands click or not (for family get togethers), maintaining respect even though your parenting styles may differ, the list goes on and on… ! It’s easy to fall into the pit of isolation, so kudos to you for reaching out and being a friend predator! Don’t give up!

    • creatingmom on January 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Ingrid! Yes so many factors. All of those you mentioned are true. Not to mention working around nap schedules. I won’t give up. I’m just going to be a little less demanding/creepy about it.

  4. ursularosien on January 17, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Hello! I’m visiting from the Weekend Block Party linky and really enjoyed yor post! While I was reading I could relate SO much to what you are feeling right now. I had my first son 9 years ago and I clearly remember after staying home with son, thinking, how in the world do I make mommy friends? One day I was working full time in the techie world, the next day I’m a stay at home mom! I have some hilarious memories trying to make friends… Ha ha. Thank you for sharing this post and reminding me to reciprocate a friendly hello from someone I don’t know yet πŸ˜‰ Virtual hugs!!!!

    • creatingmom on January 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      Thanks! Yeah it’s such a weird transition from the working world to staying at home with a tiny one. It’s like learning a whole new culture with a new language and customs. I hope you eventually did meet your tribe. πŸ™‚

  5. Kelly on January 17, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Having moved a lot, I’ve felt like a friend predator so many times!

    • creatingmom on January 20, 2014 at 12:09 am

      Are you able to put down roots now? We finally are able to do that after five years of marriage. So this might be the last time I have to be a predator for awhile, thankfully.

  6. rachel on January 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Lol this is totally me, too! I really want to find some mom friends! Do you live near Philly? Hehe :). Thanks for linking up with the weekend blog block party!

    • creatingmom on January 20, 2014 at 12:10 am

      I’m out in the central coast/bay area of California so no, sadly. Always wanted to go to Philly though, sounds like a fun city. I hope you find your tribe!

  7. Lauren on January 19, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    Oh my goodness. I have done this so many times! (Especially because we just moved to Seattle, and I’m going through this again.) I love your thought about keeping your motives in check. That’s good to remember.

    • creatingmom on January 20, 2014 at 12:12 am

      You guys just moved there? Seattle seems like such a happy place. I have good friends up there… But probably harder to be a predator when it rains so much. I rely a lot on sitting in the front yard watching people jog by. πŸ˜‰

  8. Caitlin on January 20, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Hi! I’m in your tribe! {from SITS haha not some random woman you followed home from Gymboree}
    Okay, you’re hilarious! My man and I are exactly the same way! We’re such a young family and all of our friends either are our age, but not a family, or a family but have 10-20 years on us. Hahaha so I can totally appreciate where you are coming from! Let’s be friends πŸ˜‰
    xx Caitlin

    • creatingmom on January 20, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Hi New Friend.
      Sounds like you are caught between two worlds. Just think though, at your children’s high school graduations, you’ll be a hot young mom still and your friends will be jealous. Think long term. πŸ˜‰

  9. Ashley @ Forgetful Momma on January 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Hi! I’m from your SITS tribe and wish we lived near each I’d be your bestie! I am in the same boat as you. We’ve moved a few times in the last year and a half and I miss girl time, play dates and the like. It is much harder to make friends as an adult than as a child.

    • creatingmom on January 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      It IS hard in the grown up world. It’s not as simple, and as mamas we have to fight hard against isolation. Thanks for connecting!

  10. swijnker2014 on January 20, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I’m in awe that you have the balls to talk to anybody. I’m social once I get to know someone – but I’m not that motivated to just start a conversation when I’m in line at the supermarket. BTW – his from your fellow tribe member! Can’t wait to get to know you and your blog better!

    • creatingmom on January 21, 2014 at 12:34 am

      As a former journalist, I have little fear approaching strangers. It worked for chasing the “story” but doesn’t work so well when you’re actually looking to be LIKED by people. πŸ˜‰

  11. Jessica on January 20, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    BAHAHAHAHA omg I’m dying over here!!! Okay I’m going to go creeper status on YOU and say that WE need to be besties, even if it’s just on all social media platforms since we don’t live near each other…is that weird? I TOTALLY do the same thing. I feel like such a stalker…I actually spy on this SAHM across the street from me because I’m so desperate to be friends with her but she won’t even make eye contact…RUDE. But yeah I totally understand, whenever I see a mom pushing a stroller, I feel like I jump out from behind bushes or something and get a creepy desperate vibe that I want to be friends lol. I’m Jessica from your SITS Tribe, looking VERY forward to reading your blog πŸ™‚

    • creatingmom on January 21, 2014 at 12:32 am

      Hi new friend! Keep stalking that neighbor across the street. Maybe learn her coming and going patterns and be reading her favorite book while listening to her favorite tunes? That should snag her!

      I know, I wonder if I give off the desperate vibe, like people can see the crazy in my eyes and steer clear.

      I’m so glad this made you laugh. It’s so good to be able to laugh at ourselves.

  12. Maritza Guzman on January 20, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Hi! I read this and I have to say it made me laugh cause I am a friend predator too ! lol Thanks for posting this at least I am not the only one.

    • creatingmom on January 21, 2014 at 12:29 am

      Nope, you and a bunch of other crazies. πŸ˜‰

  13. joy wheelehan on January 26, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Now this was funny. Very Funny. I am in the “Vintage” group but I still wince at some of my unsuccessful awkward desperate shameful attempts as a Friend Predator. Reading the blog and the comments, I finally realized I was not alone!!! Thanks

    • creatingmom on January 27, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Thanks. People seem to respond to you so well though, desperate attempts and all. I’ve always wondered why. πŸ˜‰

  14. Briana Meade on February 9, 2014 at 12:24 am

    This is such a cute post. Love it.

  15. priest's wife on February 9, 2014 at 3:27 am

    even WORSE is being an extreme INFP friend predator….I’ll work on it

    • Carly Gelsinger on February 9, 2014 at 3:51 am

      You know, I took Meyer’s Briggs in college and I have forgotten what all the letters stand for. I do remember being shocked that I was an “I”, because at that time I saw myself as a social butterfly. What makes an INFP predator worse than your garden variety predator?

      • priest's wife on February 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm

        πŸ™‚ well…because depending on the day, I might be THAT mom hiding from you….but then the next day, I am refreshed from my ‘cave’ and I will be very talkative and overbearing! At least extroverts are always like that. People can’t figure me out

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