The pickup lines are the same. But they're delivered with a twist.
"Do you come here (the playground) often?"
"Do you want to come to my place, or shall we go to yours?"
Mothers of young children, who a few years ago may have been looking for Mr. Right in a bar, now are seeking Mrs. Right and her kids at the local playground.
Women also are going online to find moms who match their personality and interests, much like singles use an online dating service.
"You scope 'em out," says Magalie Belanger, 31, about prospective friends in Helena, Mont. "You see how they deal with their children, and with yours."
It's like dating, but the dates are with other moms and their children. While the kids play, hopefully without tantrums or biting, the moms are free to talk about the things they have in common, from religion and politics to teething and diaper rash.
"Women, they want someone else who is going through the same thing," says Drury Sherrod, a Los Angeles social psychologist who studies friendship.
Often, that can mean seeking out other women in the same trimester of pregnancy or whose children are similar in age, he says.
Kate Harmon, 41, of Concord, Mass., recalls how 10 years ago she fell into the perfect support group while her husband was a graduate student in Boston. Three of the four moms gave birth in the same week, and the fourth a month later.
"None of us knew what the heck we were doing," Harmon says. "The first year was fabulous. You had this tiny, little apartment . . . you could just squoosh in and hang out."
Moms tend to hook up in one of two ways: They can go it alone and find like-minded moms at the playground, in their neighborhood or through their children's schools and sports. Or they can network through local groups such as Tampa Bay Moms (tampabaymoms.net).
"I knew if I didn't have a club, I'd be stuck stalking people at the playground," Harmon says.
She and her three friends are so close now, after a year and a half of playdates and girls nights out, that they take overnighters together with their kids.
Making friends: As with all relationships, there are dos and don'ts for moms who want to "pick up" other moms.
- Yes, you can show up at the local park unshowered for several days, with stringy hair. Other moms are sympathetic to that.
But you'd better have your adorable child looking a little bit cleaner. Moms seek moms who know how to care for their kids.
- You might not want to swear during your introduction. Moms seek moms who will help teach their kids good manners.
- Smile. Don't pick your nose. Talk sweetly to your children. These are things that work.