When I was in college my roommate would constantly ask “I am going to get some frozen yogurt, want to come” or “I am going over to Katie’s place, want to come?” This small phrase of “want to come” was foreign to me. In the small suburb I grew up in Southern California this was not common practice. The girls would never just say “want to come.” As typical teenage girls they would prefer to only hang out with their small group of friends and I couldn’t imagine them extending an invitation to anyone outside of their small clicks. At first, it made me uncomfortable because I was so not used to having someone keep asking me to hangout. But the more she would ask, the more I found myself doing it and now I can’t help myself. It’s part of my vocabulary. It’s part of who I am and it sounds so simple, to say “hey want to come?” So why don’t women do it more often?
First off, I get it, as many of us are working full time and raising families, our lives are very busy. So, if we do have free time we want to spend it with those we care about and are most comfortable with. When it comes to the other moms in my neighborhood, there are two of us who consistently ask other moms to get our kids together. Once or twice a week we text moms to come to meet at the park or come over for a swim, yet, we both have found the invitations are not reciprocated. Instead of taking there non-invites personally, which is usually my first reaction, I decided to find out why.
My co-worker Anne, who has one son, when asked why she doesn’t hang out with other moms, said “It sounds rude, but it’s not meant to be rude, but I need my own space when I get off work. I never mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, I just like to be alone.” And Mary, a mother of two, said ” My priority is my family. I don’t feel good not giving my priority to my kids. Maybe it’s guilt.”
My Girl, Candy, mother of two, said “It’s hard for me, but I am a lot shyer than the rest of you. But I force myself to do it. And my husband puts effort in to setting stuff up.” Another G, Lola said “For me, it’s not having the time to commit to more friends. So I stick closer to my circle. But I have also told other moms my expectations are low. If i get invited and I can join… great. If I don’t that’s OK too.”
Finally, my girl Sadie said “I just don’t pursue it as we are so busy on the weekends. Plus we have lots of events with my friends who have kids, so I don’t feel like it’s something we have to do to socialize her. BUT…., as of recently, she is starting to ask so I’m probably going to have to figure it out.”
My college roommate never took it personally when I passed on an invitation and she never stopped asking. And she never excluded me from any sort of activity she thought I might enjoy. I learned a lot from her. She opened my eyes to world of non-exclusivity when it comes to invitations and friendships, but like everything else in life I had to learn that not everyone feels the same. Thank you roomie!