When my daughter was little, I felt a distinct an obligation to make nice with the parents of her friends. At play dates I would always at least attempt to strike up a conversation. After all, when two toddlers are busy mashing play-doh into a colander or eating whatever delicious treats they find wedged into the cushions of the couch, what else are you supposed to do? No one wanted to be the first to whip out their phone and be judged.
Well, no more! One of the great things about having an older kid is that the play dates are drop-off style, and you no longer have to hold in anything about yourself to make yourself more palatable. And yes, I often did tone down aspects about my personality or outright lie about things like my religion or marital status to make sure my kid had friends to play with.
Was I setting a bad example for my child by being a fake and a liar? No, she was too busy playing with her friends to even notice me. It was my job to keep it that way by nodding politely when someone asked me if I had heard the good news about Jesus Christ.
A part of this also stemmed from the insecurity I felt as a younger mom; it’s likely that the majority of the people I interacted with wouldn’t have cut off my child if there was some aspect of my life that they didn’t like, but it happened enough to make me wary and turn me into a hilarious parody of Mrs. Lovejoy.
Then something beautiful happened. My daughter started school, and so did all of her little friends. We didn’t live in the same neighborhoods, and they didn’t go to the same schools, so suddenly all of these relationships that I was so keen on sustaining by tucking them into a bed of lies basically evaporated.
Talk about perspective. My child doesn’t even remember her playmates from her toddler and preschool years, since she’s so wrapped up in the friendships she’s made with the kids that she goes to school with. And I don’t have to even be pleasant anymore: if my kid’s friends’ parents don’t like me, what does that matter? She’ll just play with them anyway at school.
I’ve also noticed that a pleasant side effect of all of this is the fact that I’ve actually made more mom friends this way. I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned here on the value of being yourself, but who cares?
There are a few moms and dads that I will never, ever, be friends with. Our personalities clash so bad that if I had to spend any extended period of time with them, one or both of us would probably say something that would end in tears or a slap fight, so I just ignore them. We don’t suffer through coffee together or pretend to have anything in common. When their kids come over I shoo the parents away at the door, and everyone’s happy.
I won’t judge you if you don’t want to be friends with me. We don’t have to get along. Our kids are friends, but that’s as far as this needs to go. And no, I don’t need to hear the good news about Jesus Christ.