07 July 2012

The Fourth

It's often come up in conversation that meeting potential mates once entering the work force is significantly more difficult than doing so while still school.  During the college years, children (because even though we were convinced we'd reached adulthood at that point, retrospection reveals that we were still very much children) are isolated from their nuclear families and eager to form the ties of a shiny new pseudo-family.  The excitement of idealism and discovery fill the air, creating experiences that align those who would otherwise be strangers with nothing in common.

And then graduation comes and somehow, without warning, it steadily becomes harder and harder to find life partners.  At least, this is what I've been told by my same-aged, single peers.

For long time, I believed that it was equally hard to meet new friends.  After all, it's a terrifying process.  Do you know how hard it is to run into the same mom at the kiddie gym and the grocery store and the community park but feel paralyzed when it comes to introducing myself and asking her (child) out for a playdate?  What if she thinks I'm weird?  What if she says no?  Worse yet, what if she says yes--what would we talk about, what would I wear? 

See?  Worse than dating, for sure!

A1 was about 5 months old when I returned to work--my poor Clinical Director held my position for a full 6 months and had to help all my patients transition to a temporary replacement.  Even though I knew that my boss bent over backwards to accommodate my ridiculously lengthy maternity leave, I only lasted 2 weeks before handing in my notice.  I figured that all that misery before I quit would give way to a wave of relief and euphoria.  Nope.  All I felt was lonely and lost.  Then, I discovered a few playgroups and mom's clubs in the neighborhood and casually brought up the topic with an out-of-state childhood friend.  In her well-meaning and but ultimately destructive opinion, it made no sense to befriend women just because we had children who were the same age.  For a long time, her words echoed and bounced around my sleep-deprived noggin.  My addled brain was too slow to counter such a strong argument.  And I grew lonelier and more lost with each day.

But as it turns out, befriending a woman just because we have children the same age is a FABULOUS thing!  It's far more likely that this woman will also be equally sleep-deprived and will totally understand how it is possible for someone to be truly and sincerely grateful to have the privilege of staying home to raise her children but still yearn a past/future professional life.  It turns out that when I was going crazy wondering if my child were developing well enough, fast enough, and normally enough, that other mothers were also entertaining the same irrational fears.  And it turns out that these women, whom I'd met far after my formative years, can and are my best friends.  Just because we have children the same age.  And because we don't judge each other for wearing stretchy yoga pants all day even though we never practice any yoga all.  (They're like day jammies--who would deny us that comfort?)

I continue to be amazed that my social circle keeps growing even though I'm not memorizing cranial nerves or trying to place key sulci and gyri on a model brain with anyone.  Though the truth is there are as many after-midnight deep conversations now there were in college!

So that's the LONG version of a photo caption.  Here's the short version: This is a terrific mom, whom I met recently--we spent the Fourth with her family and had the BEST time!

This is a terrible photo.  The composition and exposure are laughable bad.  But the fantastic expressions on each child's face make up for it!

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