It was Katherine's first day of preschool and anticipation filled the air. Hers? Not really, she was fairly clueless. Her new-born brother's? Ha ha! He was a lump in the car seat. No, it was Mommy who was feeling energized. Many of my early playgroup friendships were fading as families spread out to different preschools and as new siblings were born, making get-togethers challenging. It was time to look forward and time to find new pals for both Katherine and myself...or so I hoped.
Things started out on a promising note. I had a passing acquaintance with few of the moms with kids enrolled in "Happy Days Preschool." After drop off, Angelina, Katie, and I strolled along around the Happy Days neighborhood, our younger kids in tow as the "big kids" adjusted to school.
The first glimmer of trouble was when Katherine reported with all the innocence of a three year old, "My best friend is Shiloh and Shiloh's best friend is Suri." "That's nice," I replied, then plunged ahead, "And who is Shiloh's best friend?" "Suri" she replied blithely, clueless to the uneven triangle that might have her heartbroken by middle school.
The "Mean Girl"...is it me now? Take a long hard look in the mirror...could she be you, too?
At the same time, I had started to realize that the group of moms I thought consisted of friends was not 'gelling' the way I had hoped. Like Katherine, I found myself on the margins of a group. I could not figure out why this initiation seemed to be going so poorly. We had kids the same age and many interests in common. They were fun, witty, and intelligent women, and so was I. Or was I? Perhaps I was the problem.
Immediately catapulting back to middle school and the betrayal of "Mean Girls," I started doubting myself, wondering if I had done something to alienate the other moms. I could not put a finger on anything and so I was left with the painful conclusion that...they just did not like me.
Then I started reflecting about the perfectly nice mom I met when Katherine was about two: Brooke. We had a few play dates...then we each had an infant and I admit that I used that distraction as an excuse to drift away. Neither did I dislike her nor did she annoy or anger me. She was, and remains, perfectly nice. I assume and hope that she felt the same way that I did...that we just did not click on a deep enough level to continue a friendship.
But...perhaps she was blindsided by me just as I was by these preschool moms. Maybe she thought I was a "Mean Girl," too...and maybe I was, without that intention. The sad truth is, I probably do rebuff potential friends. I have been hurt enough times by women I thought were friends that I am hesitant to put myself out there again, except in the most casual of ways and with the lowest of expectations.
Are many of us keeping our guard up or refusing to reach out for fear of being rejected? I have acquired several new friends since the preschool era but have let other potential ones slip by. The "Mean Girl"...is it me now? Take a long hard look in the mirror...could she be you, too?
Mary Becelia lives in Stafford with her husband and two children