Won't You Be My Wing Mom?
As her son starts at a new school, our tell-it-like-it-is columnist explores the unique nature of mom-on-mom friendships, and goes looking for a MILF (Mom I'd Like to beFriend).
A friend of mine was recently invited to her first "mom lunch" as part of her child's nursery school. You know the kind: the long skinny table for 12 where you Get to Know Each Other. One perfectly preened blonde raised her Chardonnay chalice for a toast, “Here’s to watching our kids grow up together and becoming great friends forever!” Everyone was clinking glasses beaming when she caught the eye of one woman, whose expression seemed to say, “Slow the hell down. We shat out kids the same time; this isn’t a fucking sorority.”
Sometimes proximity breeds intimacy, and the next thing you know you’re sharing Airbnb ski houses together. But often the person you meet “through the kids” slowly reveals themselves to be competitive. Or judge-y. Or boring. Or a fucking unhinged crazy person.
Now, as my son begins at a new school, I don’t just have new-kid stress, I have mom nerves, too: Who will be the new Thelma to my Louise? Don’t get me wrong – I have best friends already and am not shopping for a new community, but it’s nice to have at least one or two wing moms you can count on.
The wing mom is not a mythical beast. The wing mom can text you that assignment your kid spaced on, remind you to make that dumb bagged lunch for a field trip or organize a last-minute laser tag plan on conference day. Most importantly, she can fill you in on who to avoid or go grab a pre-curriculum-night goblet of “cab sav” – or as I call it, “cougar crack.”
The issue is, finding this Ms. Right can take time, and sometimes you just want an add-water-and-stir instant buddy to help you along and show you the ropes. This isn’t just in schools, but anywhere, really. Take jury duty, for example. Once in a while, you can get lucky and meet some relatively normal person who can be your dumpling-house compatriot during those interminable two-hour lunch breaks. I remember looking around at the group assembled in the voir dire holding pen wondering who would be my disposable friend. The jury-wrangler bailiff, after trying his hand at some stand-up comedy, showed a crudely made film about the history of trials, complete with grunting cave people pelting each other with rocks and a red-headed women being drowned in a river. When I started laughing at the poorly acted wails of the condemned, I looked at a woman with whom I’d shared a smile earlier. She had seemed pleasant despite the gold anklet smashed under the nude L’eggs hosiery. Maybe we’d be pals for the week! But she seemed oddly riveted by the horrendous soap opera on the screen that looked broadcast by Betamax. I looked at the others – no one was laughing like I was. “Fuck it,” I thought. “It’s just a few days, I’ll fly solo.”
“First base may be a moms-only coffee or even lunch. Second base is bumping it up to a foursome dinner with spouses. And, like grabbing a dick, third base is a huge jump...”
Harry Kargman is the opposite. My husband is the friendliest person I know. I call him “The Kindergartner” because everywhere we go he exclaims, “Hi! I’m Harry! And this is my wife Jill! We’re from New York. Where are you guys from?” (Insert eye roll here.) Airports. Restaurants. CHAIRLIFTS, for Christ’s sake. After we ski off in separate directions, never to see each other again, I say, with a quizzical emoji face, “WHY did we have to talk with them for 11 minutes? I mean, who the hell cares about their son’s squash ranking?”
Harry is the king of what I call the “Single Serving Friend.” He strikes up convos anywhere and even embraces people he met at a café six years ago. "Where’d you meet him?" I’ll inquire. “Oh, on the couch in the colonoscopy waiting room.” At our kids’ schools, he has the same chill exchanges with other dads but never knows which father goes with which kid. Men don’t have the same school pressure to get to the chewy-chocolate center. Most would crack when presented with one text chain trying to reschedule a three-party playdate. Moms are somehow expected to know the whole cast of characters; no extra credit points are awarded for knowing which nanny goes with which family, who the siblings are and how old they are. Guys have that luxury: sweet, small interactions or bro-ish convos at a dad hang.
In MomTown, it’s more like dating. Stepping up to the plate would be a playdate or ice cream after school. First base may be a moms-only coffee or lunch. Second base is bumping it up to a foursome dinner with spouses. And, like grabbing a dick, third base is a huge jump, which includes being houseguests and or inner-circle events like a birthday dinner. But rather than twisting-and-shouting with the masses à la Ferris Bueller, I’m more of a curmudgeon-y Cameron, perfectly fine having a couple friends. I’d rather eat my spleen with sriracha than be class mom, so I’ll just be hanging in the margins on parents’ night, combing for someone who would also never travel to Utah with 20 families wearing annual-trip sweatshirts.
I’ll be looking for you, Thelma! Let’s go off this middle-school cliff together. Love, Louise.
Jill Kargman is a New York-based writer, actress and television producer. Follow her on Instagram @jillkargman.