Long time reader here! I love your advice and need your help with something.
Last year we were forced to put my youngest daughter in a school that is not in our catchment. It was a hard decision and it all came down to “the best interest of the child”. She is super friendly, lovely and social and had no problem with the change. She’s made friends super quickly and moved on with Kindergarten.
The problem is that I don’t know anyone in this new community, which turns out is a very close community. I’m finding it VERY hard to make friends with the parents. We don’t get invited to birthday parties and no one talks to me at pick up or drop off.
I tried every morning to start with a “Good morning, how was your weekend? Can you believe the weather?” kind of thing, but all I get is the cold shoulder as they carry on with their conversations.
So I started to volunteer my time and I started donating to the school. I also became part of the PAC and went to ALL meetings, and kept going with small talk.
I guess it finally worked because last week we were finally invited to a play date, and it went really well. Then today I received an invite for a “mom’s outing” – a close group of ladies! You can tell they sent the invite weeks ago and they JUST added me cuz I was the last on RSVP, but I don’t care – I’m in, I’m finally part of the group of parents!
So I go to put it on my calendar AND… I have a book club THE SAME DAY!
I missed my last two meetings, and was looking forward to this one – I miss my friends.
What do I do? I really want to join the “cool” moms at the school but I REALLY want to go to my next book club meeting!
I already know that my very calm answer will do nothing but annoy you.
When we’re all fired up about something, we want a response that mirrors our own feelings, and anything short of that is a disappointment and very easy to dismiss.
So because you’re all fired up (I can tell this by all the yelling), don’t be disappointed and don’t dismiss Dear Dharma when she simply says you should go to the mom’s outing.
You worked hard to get that invitation and it’s obviously very important to you (I can tell this by all the yelling). If you decline it, you may not get another one. As crappy as it sounds, sometimes when a first invite gets declined, a second one may not follow.
As great as it is that your book club is important to you (and I’m sure your friends there miss you too!) it will be there next month. You’ve got some flexibility because you’re already an established part of that group, and they will understand.
In working to enter this different group, this super cool mom’s club, that flexibility hasn’t been earned yet, for lack of a better word, and they don’t know you well enough to want to understand anything other than you turned them down.
Again, crappy… but… human nature. So send your regrets to your super cool book club captain, and don’t spend another moment stressing.
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Good answer. But I’m not sure I’m with you on this. What a bunch of snooty parents to invite you as an afterthought. And you had to work darn hard to make the grade, too. Not sure I’d want to be in that sorority. I thought pom poms were out of style. What if you had a fulltime job and did not have the luxury of massaging or exercising a relationship with this ‘closed’ group?
….I liken it to the question I once read along the lines of ‘how good a friend are you’. A girl was dying to go on a date with a hot guy. A little different than this letter but along the same lines. One evening she had plans with a girlfriend and as it happened, this guy called her up last minute to go out with him. Does she ditch her girlfriend?
This new group invited Ms Divided “last minute”. I think a kind “Thank you so much but I have a prior commitment. I’d love to join you for the next one with some notice. It would be great to get to know the parents of the kids my daughter hanging with.”
Let’s hope Ms Divided doesn’t have to work so hard next time to get noticed by this sorority. Think about it, with those kind of margins required to be ‘in’?? One slip and she’ll be kicked to the curb ALONG with her kid.
Hello there! I was definitely aware that this could be the reaction to my response, and I did think it through from that angle as I was answering it.
My take on the question was that the LW isn’t necessarily trying to build strong friendships within the mom’s group, but is simply trying to fit in and create a more comfortable environment for her and her kid in a new community. After some hard work, the opportunity presented itself, and I felt it would be a shame to take the chance it was a one off invite and pass it by.
I do agree with your comparison (girl asked out on a date) and it is the definitive flip side to this scenario, and equally as valid.
Thanks so much for your comment!