I have read that babies begin their social smiles at around six weeks. As Baby approaches this developmental milestone in the next week or so, I may be approaching a milestone of my own.
Lately I have noticed that although I have the adventures of Baby, Grassy, and Zebra to keep me entertained, I need to get out of the apartment. And so I try to take Baby on a walk to the park every afternoon. During these walks, as I pass my neighborhood's many babies, moms, and strollers, and I wonder how much I might be craving some adult company during the day.
But how do people become mom-friends? Should I just sit down next to another mom on a park bench? Is there some online forum where I can find these potential mom friends to schedule a meeting in person? Am I supposed to smile at another mom who walks by with a look that conveys my sympathy for the need to get out of the house as well as what a cool walking buddy I could make?
Left to my own devices, I am an introvert. I am much better at being approached than at approaching. And, five weeks in an apartment with a baby has not necessarily made me more socially capable -- just more disheveled.
Today, when I went to the park, the first potential mom-friend was actually a potential dad-friend. He also looked disheveled, and he kept stopping and checking on the little bundle in his stroller. I imagined making friends with him and starting a Disheveled Parents at the Park Club. Instead, I remained the only member of my Disheveled Parents Club and continued on my loop.
Then I came around a curve and saw what looked like a veritable stroller convention about fifty feet ahead of me. Four moms and their strollers were in the path ahead. Life had just found a way to make the mom-friend issue unavoidable. They were blocking the path, and I would have to find a way to go through them or around them.
What to do? Smile as I stroll around them? Say hello and push right through the middle of their convention? Stop at the periphery and stand there hoping that they want to be my mom-friends?!?!?
I decided to go around them without any hello or smile. But just as I was half way around their circle, they started to move down the path. So, for about thirty seconds, we were all walking "together." This was worse than standing at the periphery and hoping they would invite me in. I sped up and pushed Baby up the path to put an immediate end to all of this awkwardness.
On my way home from the park, I saw the disheveled man and his stroller ahead of me on the sidewalk. As I walked past him, I noticed that the bundle in his stroller was not a baby, but a blanket folded to the size of a small package. Now I know that while I may not yet be capable of social smiles, at least I have a real baby in my stroller.