This past weekend showed me all I have to be thankful for, and more. Many times we are invited places, but I worry about taking two kids (and before about becoming tired when I was pregnant), I worry we will be the only ones who don’t have the money for extras I worry I won’t know anyone. I worry I’ll say something wrong, or offend someone, or, or, or.
But I said YES to a few invites. In a chain of text messages and Facebook invites where I knew not one responding cell phone number in the mix and “You have 0 mutual friends” popped up on my various screens. Thanks to social media, I knew I would be essentially, alone.
So, I tentatively headed to my friend’s house on Friday night. She helped me get both kids in the house with our bag, handed me a glass of Skinny Girl sangria, introduced me to everyone and as I smiled and looked around, I saw that I recognized a few friendly faces. Lots of people knew Addie and asked how she was because they follow her, great conversations were had about schools, and we knew certain political members of our city (but not where we stood on those politics, of course!). A few dads came into the mix. The kids, in a coup, got the Halloween movie changed to Frozen. Lots of food and drink, laughter, toddler melt downs, a puppy intermittently let out from her crate (always by someone under the age of 5).
And when we bid our farewells (note to self: ALWAYS pack PJs for the kids for night parties), I felt the warmth of new friends, of a wonderful evening, of my kids playing with new companions. I felt safe and loved and warm.
These were not mom friends, they were simply friends.
Again, the next night, I braced myself for a night of solitude. No way, I thought to myself, would people who all knew each other make conversation with me. I’m rather outgoing, to say the least, but in a crowded room where I actually want people to like me, I am a bit of a shrinking violet. Scared to be my boisterous self, I often stay quiet, unsure of how much I want to say about anything in particular in life…
It took us about 12 minutes to pull into my friend’s driveway. I’d never been there before- our kids both participating in the same Thursday activity, we’d never gotten together at our homes. The long driveway was packed and my anxiety was rising. We were late due to an extended nap, my fruit salad would never feed this many, I didn’t feel pretty… And then we were parked- pulling up to a group of people who were immersed in conversation and beers, our headlights flooding their gathering. “Hey,” someone yelled at the dogs, “let them get out!” Smiles exchanged. I nodded towards the garage stairs, “Yep, everyone else is inside. That door goes right into the kitchen!”
We walked in, and while people looked up, I knew no one. I moved into an empty spot and started to help Addie out of her jacket while I scanned the room… a face I knew. I walked over and said hi, then took a seat while Dave gathered food for us… “Can I take her?” Another friendly face! I handed Millie over (the first time I’ve let anyone hold her besides family), and I started to feed Addie and myself. More people headed over, and sat with their kids and we used our babes as ice breakers for introductions- but then, it was us. We were parents talking about our kids, then jobs, then laughing about life. We exchanged war stories of college and early parenthood, and newbies asked some of us slightly more seasoned (but still green) parents about those first few months. …and my initial desire to run was replaced by taking a tour of the newly built house I was in, and wondering how it was already 9pm!
And again… there were events happening with friends we haven’t seen since our baby class days. Somehow desperate to see more people and spread my wings, we headed to the zoo. Trick-or-treating, girl talk, family discussions, Addie and Daddy time… it was all just what we needed to end our weekend.
So… my mom friends, as I referred to them just a year ago- the women I’d met in mom groups, at baby classes and story times and in line at Bellani- those moms are moms and friends. We talk about the kids, of course, but we also talk about relationships, sleep, the best wines, where we’d like to travel, our plans for the holidays… we talk, as my friends and I always have, about what’s relevant.
As my life has changed and evolved, from student to living alone, partying, dating, marriage, babies- so have my friends- not all, but some. We grow and we evolve with our surroundings and at some point, we cultivate friendships with these people. These people who were our mom friends become so much more. They become a sounding board, an open source for advice, who we call when we’re at our wit’s end, who support us when our partners cannot. They are the women chasing multiple children, while other moms stand there, horrified, with newborns in their arms. They are the ones who sneak out at 8pm for drinks and back in at 10:30, just in time for the first wake-up of the night… a toddler that needs water, inevitably.
These women (and men) have become where I settle into friendships, watching our children grow up together as we, too, grow into the parents we said we’d never be- our own! We will face the same issues we did in our youth- lamenting about relationships, nursing hangovers we have due to much less alcohol than the past, bills that we’re sure will never be paid…
Just 2 years ago I was trying to hold onto friendships of a past life with people who didn’t want to be a part of my future, for whom a house and marriage and children just seemed like too much to be a part of, and my heart broke. Friends whose parenting styles differed from my own and who chose to break contact. Some friends just grew away, even as we ventured the same path.
I hold a special place for my friends of the past… but this week, I venture into new territory. Meeting new parents, cultivating new relationships and cherishing new friends. As a parent, friendships are a bit like dating, and I cannot wait to woo new friends with shared cheese sticks, spilled milk, bottles of red and texts of new adventures we’re desperately trying to coordinate.
It’s a Marvelous Monday, don’t you think?