Alone in a crowd

Last week the kids and I went to a local mall called The Mills. It is a beatiful place to spend a cold evening with carpeted walkways, an indoor full size playground, and ofcourse a Starbucks kiosk!

We ran from the van to the door and then shed the layers of coats we had been wearing and headed for the playground. Normally I bring a stroller or rent one but tonight I just didn’t – although it would have been handy if for nothing else but coat storage.

After about an hour of watching the kids run around on the playground, I decided to take them to get some dinner in the foodcourt. You should see this place – so family friendly! Highchairs everywhere, pint-size tables & chairs, picnic style tables, and in the very center of the food court is a huge carousel. (Great for bribery – “you eat all your chicken and we can ride the horses!!”)

Well, it struck me that, on a quiet night at the mall, every single person we encountered was a mom with 1-3 kids – alone. All the dads must have been working late that night! And while we were all eating Burger King with our kids at the pint sized tables, it struck me that even though we were only a few feet from one another, we didn’t say a word to each other. I couldn’t help but wonder if any of them were as starved for adult conversation as I was. I wondered why it was so easy for us here in Bloggityville to strike up a conversation with someone miles away, but when we are faced with someone sitting just a couple pint-sized tables over so obviously in our same life-season, why oh why do we clam up?? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe y’all go ahead and talk to all the mothers around you in line in the foodcourt that you don’t know, and when you all finally get your bags of “dinner”, you um, well, you suggest to your new friends that you all sit together so the kids will enjoy their dinner with other kids around, and y’all can have a lovely conversation over cold fries about anything but Spongebob and that damn carousel.
Ahem. And then again, maybe not.

Can you tell me why is it that when I am home and the laptop is open does my world feel so small, and so intimate. And when I am at the mall, my world feels way too big, and just a little lonely?

I guess, I have to start with myself in encouraging you.

Next time you are out, offer to sit with another mom & her kid for dinner. And then just talk. You know, like we do here. Think of it like a meme – here are some conversation starters that don’t sound like a job interview:

1. What is your child’s favorite part of The Mills? Have you taken him/her skating yet?

2. What is the funniest thing your child said or did this week?

3. Do you work outside the home? What do you like about your current situation (SAHM or WM)?

4. Do you guys ever travel? What types of places do you like to go? Tell me about them.

All of these can work well no matter what the ages of her children. If it goes well, maybe you could exchange numbers and set up a playdate – at the Mall again! Then you have broadened your horizons, met a new friend, and given your kids some new friends. And you have made one mom just like you, feel a little less alone in the crowd.

Chances are, the other moms I saw were just as lonely as I was and could have used an extrovert like me to really reach out to them. That is my challenge for the next time we go to The Mills.

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11 thoughts on “Alone in a crowd

  1. Munchkin Land says:

    That sounds like a great idea! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about doing the same thing but something always holds me back. I especially want to reach out to the mommy with the child throwing a tantrum; just to say, it’s okay, we’ve ALL been there!

    Good food for thought, Stacey!!

  2. Christine says:

    You are so right, it’s not just you. I have occasionally made a comment to a mom in the mall, or somewhere else, but it never goes beyond the typical, “Oh, I’ve been there!” type thing. You’ve suggested a great thing!

  3. Jen says:

    You are so right,, I normally do talk to other women in line…some talk back others don’t….but that is okay I’m very outgoing and always have something to say about something…..good point…and well taken…

  4. Barb says:

    You bring up such a good point, Stacey. It does seem easier to sit in here and interact with people that I’ve never met face to face than it is to reach out to a stranger. Our world is a different place now than it was when I was a young mom, but moms still face the same challenge of being starved for adult conversation. And they’re afraid to reach out for it.

    What a better place this world would be if we all made just a little more effort to be nice to each other. I know we have to be careful, but we’re probably safe making a gesture of friendship to a mom with three kids, a stack of coats and french fries in her lap.

    Very, very good point you make here.

  5. Elise says:

    Ooooh, I envy those mama’s that are going to get to talk to you the next time you’re there! 🙂
    This is a great idea – and while I don’t get out much right now, I will be more aware of it when I am.

  6. Amanda says:

    It is so funny that you write about this because I think about it all the time. I have been at parks where I have this exact feeling.

    You bless me my friend. We should all show ourselves FRIENDLY!

  7. Missy says:

    I always start with a smile. It melts most barriers. When your sitting in a play area, watching the kids play, I find that’s the best time to start a conversation. Mall visits are a great place to take the kids on a cold winters day. I wish we lived closer and it was easier to meet up for such an occasion! I told Jenny V that us SAHM moms from Women’s Group should get together for some park trips in the spring!

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