Elise Carter was the cutest, classiest new mom I'd ever met. She was part of a playgroup I joined shortly after my first daughter was born, and from the moment I noted her shiny, razor-cut bob and Kate Spade flats, I was smitten.
I could totally see the two of us laughing together at the playground as we pushed our daughters on the swings, talking in low voices over Starbucks Frappuccinos about the state of our marriages and shopping J. Crew's sale racks at the Green Hills Mall. I had absolutely no doubt that Elise and I were meant to be best friends. There was only one problem.
Elise Carter despised me.
I'm not kidding. She really despised me, and this was before I had a blog or newspaper column, so I couldn't pass her off as a closet Martina McBride fan. She was civil at our playgroup meetings, but my calls inviting her to get together went unreturned, my e-mails unanswered, my invitations to birthday parties pointedly ignored. As if to rub salt in the wound, she routinely met up with other women from our playgroup — I'd hear them chatting about it afterward at our weekly gatherings, while my heart sank into my sandals.
It didn't matter to me that I had plenty of other mom pals who were happy to schedule meet-ups. Instead, I became fixated on the fact that Elise did not want to be my friend and how could that be?! I wore hipster T-shirts! I took showers! I told funny stories! Gosh darnit, people liked me! For nearly two years, I compulsively picked at the scab Elise Carter had formed on my psyche by continuing to invite her to events, only to be met each time with deafening silence. Looking back, the pathetic truth stares me square in the eyes.
I was a Mom Stalker.
This disturbing conclusion hit me only after my friend Susan sent me an e-mail a few days ago, ranting about a woman we'll call Kate. Kate apparently has decided she and Susan should be besties, and to that end, she's invited her to have drinks, go shopping, and — the dead giveaway — scrapbook together. On its surface, there's nothing wrong with any of Kate's overtures. The trouble is that Susan doesn't have a whole lot of time — and Kate won't take no for an answer.
"The cooler I am to her, the harder she chases me," Susan said the other day. "She sends me texts, calls me on the phone, waits around to talk to me at baseball practice ... She's a Mom Stalker!"
I laughed uncomfortably as my many attempts to win over Elise came to mind. Susan is bubbly and vivacious, and I'm sure Kate wants in on that. But Susan also has three jobs, two kids, a husband and a pack of established gal pals. Her dance card is full, and she doesn't understand why Kate can't recognize that and move on.
I recovered from the Elise experience only after I became a more seasoned mother and Mom Stalkers began approaching me. I don't mean moms who casually let it be known that they'd like to get together. I'm talking about women who simply wouldn't take no for an answer. Every so often, I've run into a 'Kate,' a woman who calls, texts, e-mails, Tweets, sends Facebook messages, mails invitations and even shows up at my front door, all but demanding that we become BFFs.
Some of these Mom Stalkers actually might make great friends. But like Susan, my free time is pretty much nonexistent. Right now, my friendships are mainly established out of convenience. They're based on whether the woman has children that get along with mine, or whether she lives within five or 10 minutes of my house, or whether we see each other often at social events or team practices. There will come a time when I choose friends who love the same books and movies as I do, friends who share many of my interests, friends who make me laugh until tears run down my face and listen when I cry about my problems.
That time is not now.
After six long years, I've finally learned to back off and not take it personally when women don't accept my tentative offers of friendship. I now have a three-invite rule: If a mom doesn't bite after three invitations, and doesn't make any counter-offers of her own, I move on.
My name is Lindsay Ferrier, and I am no longer a Mom Stalker.
But, um, Elise? If you ever do want to get together? Call me.
Read more Suburban Turmoil at suburbanturmoil.com.
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