Do Hoboken moms suffer from “play-date” syndrome?
Saw this funny article in The Post yesterday that spoke of the incredible pressure that seems to face recent mothers these days.
It touched on how the social pressure to get involved with other mothers for “play-dates” was strikingly similar and just as uncomfortable as being on the dating scene. So keeping up with the Joneses now includes Jones Jr. as well it seems.
Is that the case in Hoboken as well? Is there a huge sense of competitiveness and desire to “belong”?
Do Hoboken parents compete with others about who has the best stroller, clothing, food, therapy, day-care, nanny or classes?
Or is this just NYC that were talking about here?
Here’s the link to the article, or you can read below:
THE SWINGING SET
By MACKENZIE DAWSON
October 12, 2006 — WITHIN the first few weeks of having her baby, it started happening. Leila, a 30-year-old first-time mother who asked that her real name not be used, couldn’t set foot outside her Upper East Side apartment without people approaching her and asking for her number.
“They’d say we should meet up, get coffee, play together,” she says.
“And it was like, ‘Um … I don’t even know you!'”
Welcome to the Manhattan play-dating scene, a competitive world where 2-year-olds are like A-list restaurants – booked solid for a month. For many new mothers, the etiquette involved in getting together a couple of 6-month-olds at the Central Park swings has them feeling like they never left the dating game. Instead of Spice Market, they’re meeting at a child-friendly restaurant like Peter’s or Café Luka – but the social anxiety is still the same.
“Every time I meet another mom with a toddler, I feel like I’m an eighth-grade boy asking a girl to dance, except that I’m sleep-deprived and covered in dried yogurt and jelly,” says Eileen Kelly, a stand-up comic and mother of 2-year-old twins.
“She seems really nice. What should I say: ‘Your son’s really verbal’? Now I’ve got to close the deal; ‘Hey, we should get the kids together sometime. Can I call you?’ Aaaaaawkward. I got married so I didn’t have to date. Now I’m back out there – and I’m the guy!”
And as in the world of romance, play-dating moms don’t always hit it off – there’s just no chemistry, no sparks between the Bugaboo strollers.
“I met this girl in the park once and it was like a first date. When it ended, it’s like, ‘So should I call you?'” says Megan, who also asked that her real name not be used.
“I think she would have gone on a second date, but I wasn’t that into it. My excuse was that I was going back to work, which was true. But it’s a small Upper East Side town – and you get set up and it doesn’t work out and then you keep running into each other!”
Leila – who became good friends with Megan through their children – can definitely relate.
“I just started a music class with my son and there was a girl who sat next to me, and immediately it was, ‘Let’s exchange numbers, let’s set up a weekly play date.’ I just knew off the bat that this wasn’t going to work, so I had to blow her off a bit.”
As any veteran dater will tell you, there’s an art to the approach – and sometimes nothing works better than a good old-fashioned game of Hard to Get. Writer Eileen Travers found that out the hard way, when she moved to New York and tried to make cheerful playground conversation with other moms.
“Sorry,” they’d say, when she suggested a play date. “My child has no play openings for at least a month.”
“I finally got to a point where I thought, ‘OK, I’m trying too hard, so I’m just going to ignore everyone and have fun with my kids,'” says Travers.
“It’s like when you’re trying to catch a guy’s eye in a bar and you start playing it aloof – you become this mysterious new person. So I ignored everyone on the playground, and they started coming up to me.”
While many mothers scope out the playgrounds and coffee shops, others try their luck on the lunch scene – the mommy equivalent of a co-ed mixer.
“There are all these luncheons for new moms, where they speak about various topics. It’s like speed dating,” says 31-year-old Megan, who has a 5-month-old.
“People don’t go for the topics; they go to meet other moms. My friend once went to an event and spent the whole time making eyes at this other mom across the room. It was like they were flirting – and afterwards, she went up to her and asked for her number so the kids could play together.”
Others go the matchmaking route, opting for a service like Tots ‘n Talk (totsntalk.com), which was founded in February of this year by Upper East Side moms Jennifer Belew and Lisa Lavitt. They created the service with the intention of relieving “the stress and awkwardness from meeting other mothers also interested in setting up weekly gatherings or play groups.” For a one-time fee of $100, the service matches up mothers for play groups – in addition to helping organize and coordinate the groups themselves.
On a recent weekday, Lavitt and Belew met with Melinda, a mother interested in using the service. While her extremely well-behaved 8-month-old son, Eli, sat in his Bumbo seat and played with his orange socks, the matchmakers got down to business, asking Melinda about her personality, work schedule, and what she is hoping to get out of a play group.
“Honestly?” asks Melinda. “I’m looking to have an excuse to get dressed in the morning. I want to get out of my apartment!”
The others laugh. “We’re laughing because we can totally relate!” says Belew. “I think all new moms can.”
Whether they’re meeting people at luncheons, on the playground or through Tots ‘n Talk, many New York moms have experienced the anxiety of suddenly having to make a new group of friends.
“This is the first time in my life I’ve had to do this, since high school,” says Melinda with a laugh. “And sometimes I’ll walk by the park and see all these play groups and think, ‘Oh my god, why aren’t they inviting me?'”
Meanwhile, the others are still working the bar – that is, playground scene.
“Some moms around here are just too driven,” says Kelly.
“You try to set up a play date for a couple of 2-year-olds and they’re like, ‘Well, Monday is Mommy and Me Yoga, Tuesday we’ve got Storytime, Wednesday is the Little Gym and Movement for Munchkins, Thursday is art class at Little Picasso, but Friday we might be able to fit you in between Baby Physics and Kiddie Chemistry.’ Yeah. On second thought, I don’t think we’re right for each other.”