Monday, 24 June 2013

"First date" jitters

I have a date next week.
A first date.
I'm so nervous.

We've been working up to it for ages - much longer than most. We knew of each other, saw each other "around," and smiled without saying anything for over a year before we ever even spoke. We've been chatting a few times a week for the last nine months. Nine months.

And, finally, that moment we'd both been waiting for - the not-so-casually casual "we should have a drink sometime" when our conversation was inevitably cut short - that turned into a plan with a date and a time and a place.

We've finally decided to take that all-important first step - we're going on a first date.

That's right - I have a date. A date with another mom. My first new friend in years.

I saw her around the schoolyard all last year, but although our oldest children were in the same grade, they weren't in the same class and were dismissed from different doors. We stood near - but not too near - one another in the schoolyard while waiting for the bell to ring each day. We smiled if we caught one another's eye. There was a little nod and a quick "hi" if we passed too close for politeness to avoid it. But for the most part she stuck to her corner of the yard with her mom friends and I stuck to my side of the yard with my mom friends.

This year, our kids are in the same class. The first few weeks of school were the same as every year - all the moms sort of roam around the yard, jockeying for position nearest the school door or the schoolyard gates or the spot in the shade or out of the wind, the various groups gravitating toward or away from one another until by the end of September pretty much everyone has their spot staked out, their group they stand and chat with, their place in the schoolyard parents' hierarchy. This year, she and I ended up standing with the same group in the same spot.

We've been chit-chatting day in and day out since those early fall afternoons. We've talked about tests and grades and field trips and parent council drama and third grade hilarity. We've delved delicately into the periphery of our personal lives, but only so much as can be covered in the six or seven minutes a day we share in the schoolyard waiting for our kids.

I like her. I've liked her since I met her. I'm not the sort of person who makes new friends very easily, but if pressed I'd probably say she's someone I might be interested in being friends with. She's easy to talk to, she's mildly crass, she's sort of sarcastic and she laughs at the same inappropriate things I do.

It's very hard to make real friends as a mom. There are your friends - friends you've had since before you had kids - and then there are your mom friends. Mom friends are the mothers of your kids' friends, the mothers of your kids' teammates, the mothers you sit with on parent council or see at the park every week or chat with in the schoolyard. Nice people, good people, people you see frequently and regularly by circumstance but only by circumstance, people you enjoy talking to superficially but only superficially, people you'd never be friends with in real life but who make perfectly acceptable temporary mom friends.

But there's a big difference between mom friends and real friends. And it is very hard to make that leap from mom friend to real friend.

I think she and I may be making that leap.

I'm so nervous about our first date.

She made the first move, suggesting a glass of wine one afternoon, so at least I don't feel that pressure. But I feel just as much of the "first date jitters" as I ever have for any real date I've ever been on.

What if she doesn't like me? What if I don't like her? Like any first date, it's just going to be me out there - no buffer. It's not like a coffee date with a girlfriend you've known for a zillion years when you know each other' history, husbands, and intimate details of everything that goes on in each other's heads. It's not like after-office drinks with co-workers, a group of faux-friends with the common ground of office gossip and the daily grind to discuss. It's not even like a playdate at the park with mom friends where the kids serve as the buffer and the distraction to keep everything going. What if we have nothing to talk about?

I still have to see her every day in the schoolyard, after all. And, though our kids may not be in the same class every year, they are in the same grade - so we're looking at another five years of shared schoolyard awkwardness if this friendship thing doesn't work out. Are there rules I should know about with mom dates? What if I overstep my bounds, what if I miss some signal and don't follow up the way I'm supposed to?

I can't believe I'm putting myself out there like this. I'm terrified.
A first date.
I'm so nervous.
And so excited.

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