Dates Vs Play Dates: A Mom’s Point of View

Dating is not my forte. I found, dated, and married the most incredible man I’ve ever come to meet, but that was by nothing short of a miracle… And maybe a very well timed fraternity party. Regardless, the dating game is rough and I was pretty thrilled when I left it behind me forever the day I married that said “incredible man”.

Or so I thought.

Turns out, a couple kids later and you’re right back where you started– dating. Except now you’re in the high stakes dating game called play dates, where you’re now (metaphorically) dating other parents, your kids are involved, and you’re potentially plotting out who you’ll be sharing margaritas with in 6 years time when the PTA meeting ran late again. It’s serious business, folks. If you’re a seasoned play-dating vet like this girl, you’ll know dating in any phase of life is all pretty much the same, and if you didn’t know, well then…

Let’s get started.

THE BAR SCENE

And by that I mean the monkey-bar scene. Much like a bar for singles, the playground is where a mom has the best chance in finding future potential (play) dates. Your kid wants to play tag with my kid? Perfect. I’ll go ahead and creepily associate that as a mom’s pick-up line. Much like in any dating world, this is where the normal small talk takes place and you begin seeing what the other person is all about– but instead of asking the proverbial questions like “what’s your major” or “how you doin’?” (head nod to Joey fans), a mom will undoubtedly ask “how old are they?” and then immediately calculate age difference and respond with it. “He’s three and a half? Mine just turned three in March. They’re about 4 months apart!” I don’t know why we all do this. I apologize. It must come in the secret mom handout they give you when you leave the hospital. Much like in real dating, if all bodes well, you might get some digits for another playdate in the future.

THE ONLINE RELATIONSHIP

No, there’s not a tinder for moms (…right? I really hope not, because I’m completely and inappropriately picturing myself swiping left on another mom’s kid. “Oh, Johnny likes bubbles? We’re more of a sidewalk chalk family… NEXT.“) Anyway, even sans mom tinder, like any online relationship, it’s all about connection and support. Whether it’s someone you used to know in high school or someone who constantly pops up with mutual friends, it’s pretty easy to strike up a mom-lationship online. You still comment on their pictures, but instead replace the fire emoji with some type of mom mantra like “isn’t that phase the best?!” and you’re officially in the game. Will it ever turn into an actual playdate? Maybe not, but that’s okay. Us moms are pretty big on the virtual relationship thing. You may not ever meet face to face, but you won’t have to clean your playroom for them either.

*For comparison sake, let’s say not cleaning your house is like not having to shave your legs for a date. Total win in any book.

THE FIRST DATE

Get out your good Lululemons, ladies, and find your kids some clothes that aren’t stained. This is the mom equivalent of wearing jeans and a nice top on a real date– you want to make a good impression but not make it look like you’re trying too hard. Most likely the first date happens when your kid meets a friend from school, they’re hanging out for the first time, and you’re wondering if their mom remembers you with pajamas and slippers at last week’s school drop off. You have to play it cool, be a tad overly friendly, crack some jokes, and wait for the right cue to see if they’re the bad boy or the preppy jock (AKA, the mom who will drink wine on play dates or help you bake cookies for the bake sale.)

THE FANCY DINNER DATE

Hahahaha, I’m totally just kidding. We don’t have those. Maybe, MAYBE a trip to Chuck-E-Cheese where they now advertise they sell “gourmet, adult pizzas” but no. Just no. NEXT.

IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL

This is it. You made it, girl. You picked up your house a time or two for them (remember that comparison?), acted like your first choice for a snack is a carrot rather than goldfish, and didn’t let your kid eat the cracker that fell on the floor. You’re passed all that now, and it’s mutual there’s no judgment when you’ve worn your hair in a messy bun 13 days straight. It’s the equivalent of your significant other waking up to you with no make up on and morning breath, and loving you regardless. Your kids are now officially best friends because quite frankly, they don’t have a choice about seeing each other three times a week, and it’s already apparent they’ll be in each other’s bridal party down the road in twenty years time. Oh, and it’s very, very safe to say you can kick back and enjoy that wine on your play date (…while you eat the cookies you made for the bake sale.) Congrats, ladies. You’ve got yourself a playdate soulmate.

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