*For my first week with Baby Julius, I am hosting guest bloggers at The E is for Erin – each of these cool ladies has submitted a favorite post from her blog for me to share with you. I am reposting these pieces in their entirety but make sure to check them out where they live. Many thanks to these bloggers for helping out a fellow mama.*
Guest Blogger, Day 4: Dunkley
“Dunc” is the woman behind Dunkley – she is another Omaha blogger and happens to be an internet friend turned real life friend of mine. Besides being a lot of fun to talk to, Dunc takes awesome photos of her adorable daughter, puts together great weddings and showers, and has some seriously fierce baking skills. I still fantasize about the homemade cheddar scones I had at her house almost two years ago. Not long ago she wrote a great post On Making Friends, which I think sooo many moms (and dads, I’m sure) can relate to – I sure did.
What a tricky dance it can be to attempt to make new friends.
We are very fortunate to have some wonderful friends in our lives – some we have known for decades, and others for a few shorter months or years. They are the kind of friends who see your bare, pregnant, laboring butt in all of it’s glory right up in their faces and don’t even flinch – they just gently drape you with a blanket. They drop everything and race to the ER when your dad is having a heart attack. They ask how you’re doing and really care for the genuine answer. They come to your house (or you go to theirs) with no pretense other than to sit and be together, and without any fear of the conversation lagging, or any discomfort if it does. They accept and love you just as much when you become parents, with all of the new (and boring) topics and time constraints and exhaustion that comes along with the life change.
I wouldn’t give up our friends for the world. I’m not really interested in having the world, but if it were ever offered to me, my friends would be part and parcel with the package.
At the same time, I find myself navigating the terrain of trying to make a few new “mom” friends. And I feel like I’m struggling.
I do have friends who are moms. Blythe’s friends in the above pictures are the daughters of one of my dearest friends from high school – talk about friends you have known for decades, who saw you at your most awkward and insecure.
I also have “acquaintance” moms who I hope to call friends as we spend more time together (I promise not to force you into all of the intensity of the relationships described above – no pregnant nudity hazing!). But as Blythe and I venture out into the world of story time and music classes, my desire for friendships for my kid – or, for me, more of a connection with other parents - gets mashed up with the social awkwardness of child-centered activities and my own insecurities.
Take music class, for example. Every Thursday night Blythe and I (and occasionally Ryan acting as a sub) haul it out to Elkhorn for a 45-minutes children’s music class, involving dancing, story time, instruments, jumping, and all other manner of musical expression you can imagine from those in the 18 month-3 year set. After a couple of months I had envisioned myself chatting it up with a fellow mom or dad about neutral topics like their recent vacation (and how their child handled the flight, of course), the latest concept learned in class, that sort of thing.
And yet, 6 weeks into class we are still at the stage of politely enjoying each others’ children during the mayhem while keeping an eye on our own, and then packing up and dashing out to our cars at the end. No banter, no chance to form new connections. Perhaps I’m unreasonably disappointed by this, but I felt a bit hope for myself at the beginning that I would find a fellow parent to meet up and have playdates with – all of the parents work at least part-time outside the home, which would’ve been a nice starting point in relating to each other (if not a pain in finding common times to meet – ha).
On Friday Blythe and I attended a new story time hour at one of our local library branches. Everything about it was generally pleasant and relaxed, but we were most definitely the new girls. And while I hope to make that particular story time a regular part of our week, I once again found myself at that awkward point at the end of an event where I’m not quite sure whether to enter into the conversational fray around me (in which everyone else has an established level of familiarity) or politely make our exit and hope the coming weeks bring more of a warm-up.
I think I would enjoy being part of an organized Moms group, but there isn’t one that I know of for my geographic area. And our neighborhood isn’t very promising - save for a tween girl who spends most of her time inside, the only children on our block (or the surrounding ones, for that matter) are our next door neighbors’ four children. And while we love them and Blythe enjoys them so much that it is a major factor in keeping us from moving, I had always hoped she would grow up in a neighborhood with kids in higher supply. So in lieu of living out that dream, we trek to various activities around the city and hope to run into some parents at our nearby park when the weather improves.
I’m certain I’ve made this sound as if the experience of making a few new friends is all about me and less about Blythe, and in reality that’s not really the case – but she’s also still at the point of engaging primarily in parallel play and doesn’t have her own social anxieties, so I’m not particularly worried about her ability to adapt to new environments at this age. She takes well to the nursery at church and mixes it up with other children. I think, for me, the desire is to expand my circle of like-minded parents, to mix things up during the days and weeks when I’m home, to feel like I’m helping Blythe to be well-equipped and socially adjusted with other children, and to feel more plugged in and connected to parents in the area and/or at various classes and events.
This blog post is not helped by the fact that Blythe and I have been going it alone for the past few days as Ryan is out of town – there’s nothing like 24/7 solo time with a toddler to make you long for both genuine adult interaction for yourself and something to ease Blythe’s boredom in hanging with old Mom nonstop