When the boys and I venture out to the park or into an existing playgroup we encounter the divide. The cliques and established community of parents getting together for the kids. There seems to be this impenetrable shell that you have have to claw your way through to hang out with other moms and dads in these social groups. But what is that exactly that we are fighting through. I think at the heart of all these groups in a desire to connect with other parents and to see our kids playing and interacting with other kids. If that is true then why is it so hard to get passed that cold shoulder that we all feel when coming into these groups? I think that we have lost the art of hospitality and we are waiting for someone else to make the connection that we all want.
It was hard at first, showing up to music time where the Urban Momma Mafia seemed to have the couches and good seats around the singer on lock down. I felt like they were specifically keeping me and my kids out and generally keeping anyone new on the periphery. As I thought about it more though I came to think this wasn’t true. I had to assume that, if given the opportunity, these women would like to connect with me, or at least their kids with mine. On the latest Band of SAHD podcast Chris and I talked about the loss of hospitality among parents in these groups. Chris talked about being in Uganda and feeling like he was immediately part of every family he met because of the hospitality he was shown. People would go out of their way to make outsiders feel like they were on the inside, and they would do it quickly.
In the business world the art of the introduction is valuable skill to have. There are a couple of easy rules to follow, introduce the lower profile person to the higher profile person and point out what they have in common. “Mrs. Bigwig this is Mr. Johnson, he has his pilot’s license as well.” Now they know each other’s name, have a point of connection, and can have an easy conversation starter. In playgroups and kids gatherings this is much harder because you are coming in blind but I think we can still all be better about making those connections. Since I assume that people would like to connect I know that I need to be the one that makes that connection. That means doing much of the work socially and does get exhausting but I think it’s important. Starting with the one connection I know we do have: kids, I start the conversation and try to find more connections. It is putting yourself out there for rejection, and at times getting that rejection, but to me that is better then living these disconnected lives around each other but not with each other.
We may never become friends or share a warm spot on the couch and blanket like the picture above but maybe we will have 10 minutes of connection with some one. Hospitality is an art form that needs to be practiced to be perfected and I think we can all use some more practice. There are times when someone else should be making the introductions but they just don’t know how. Assume that they want to know you, they are just out of practice and make that first step.