Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Mommy Friends

A little over six years ago, I walked into the new parent group at the hospital where I delivered Hockey Boy, my first son. I was so unsure of myself and my parenting. I was totally overwhelmed by sleep deprivation and identity loss. And so was everyone else. Over the next few months, we shared our struggles with sleep issues, starting solid foods, being intimate again with our husbands. We laughed at our changed bodies and cried over the simplest things. 

Eventually a group of us aged out of the group. I am not sure who did what when, but I am so thankful that someone kept us going. Over time we found some new members and lost some to busy schedules and moves. We celebrated new babies and supported those who lost pregnancies. For the first years we met most Friday mornings in a large conference room at the local library. Then as our kids started preschools and morning play dates as a group stopped working, we started a monthly mom's night out. We took turns hosting and planning, each looking forward to seeing one another and catching up with our mommy friends again. We are now reconnecting at parties celebrating new babies, egg hunts, and 40th birthdays. We see one another as a group less often but when we do there is love and acceptance and comfort.  And laughter.

There is nothing like those friends you make when you first become a mom. It is like your freshmen year in college all over again but thankfully we all had our own homes. We were in this amazing place that we had all been so eagerly anticipating and yet the instruction manuals and outsiders advice did not really do justice to the overwhelming responsibility that comes with being a mom. These women got it. 

We recently celebrated one of the mom's 40th birthday. When did we get so old? Actually she is old, I still have a few years to go before I hit 40. Though from all I hear it sounds fabulous really. We had dinner together, enjoyed some wine, laughed through the evening and shared stories from our lives (amazingly a group of 7 women can have a night of talking that does not contain mere gossip and competition). I have been so blessed by these women! Thanks to all of you for continually letting back in after my journeys away. You are all AMAZING!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

To Know Me is to Love Me

I don't make good first impressions. I am not sure that my second or third impressions are all that good either, but eventually I win most people over. Which is why I don't like having to get to know new people. I know how to be friendly and outgoing. But eventually within the first few minutes I will say or do something that comes across as arrogant, judgmental or self involved. Actually I am not sure that is how I come across but at some point in an opening conversation I will end up interrupting, correcting or arguing with someone about something that at the time seems very important to me. Not a great way to make friends.  Thankfully my friends looked beyond my flaws and love me anyway.  

I did that again today. I am back at my old church with people who have learned to love me. I was asked by a leader to help her co-lead her small group, made up of women I do not know at all. I love this woman, who is a former leader of mine, and jumped at the chance to spend time with her and lead a group. But as I walked into the room last week I remembered that while I make bad first impressions in most situations I make horrible, foot in mouth, did I really say that out loud mistakes when I am in a new small group. It comes from my insecure need to prove who I am. To prove that I am smart and not just a stay at home mommy of small kids. This is my only intellectual outlet most of the time and I want to be taken seriously. 

So today we are in our small group and some lovely lady starts to say something about politics and religion, or at least that is what I think she is going to say because I jumped on top of her first sentence so fast that she stopped talking. I realized right away how rude and selfish I was being. I apologized and asked her to continue which of course she did not do because how could she knowing I was the supposed "expert" in what she was talking about and had discounted her point before she started. The big irony though was that our study this session is called "Conversational Peace" and just yesterday I did the self assessment that showed me that needing to quarrel, interrupt and be proven right were a huge problem area for me.  

Thankfully the woman had enough grace to talk to me after group and I was able to apologize. I realized that I was so caught up in her details (which struck a soft spot of frustration in me) that I missed her point altogether. 

I do that a lot.  Get caught up in the details of the words and conversation and miss the heart of what my friends and loved ones really need heard. I miss their heart which is truly tragic because I want to really know the deepest parts of the people around me. I really care about the joys and pains of my friends and family. But I often miss the important stuff.  So feel free to tell me if I am not listening to what you really want to say.  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

You Can Go Home Again

They say you can't go home again, but we did. We made the big move. We left sunny California for the beautiful rainy Pacific Northwest. We had kept our house here in our little suburb and rented it out when we moved to the Silicon Valley so my husband could join a start up. When things got really rocky and he started looking for back up plans, his old company asked him to come back. So here we are back in our old house with him working at his old job. My middle son is in preschool where Hockey Boy first went to preschool. We are back at our old church which we love. I even went back to the church's women's Bible study this week and am already plugged in to help lead a small group. The same women are there and the childcare workers remembered the boys, though the boys do not remember them. The music teacher at our local toy store remembered the boys and amazingly they remembered the toy store. Priorities...

The weird thing though is that while we are right back in our old lives and some things have not changed, I know that I missed some important things in the lives of the people around me. Babies were born. Parents died. Children grew and some even went off to college. Jobs were lost. Employers changed. Remodeling was done. I feel like I need to take a few minutes with everyone I know and ask them the highlight and low point of the last two years. 

And I have changed as well in the last two years. Things have happened in my life that people here do not know. My relationship with my parents has changed drastically. And that is really awkward because my parents were so involved in the kids lives when we lived here before. They watched the kids a lot and they even kept them overnight at their house. That won't be happening now because of what has happened over the last two years but only those people that I kept really in touch with know. So now I get lots of comments about the grandparents being so happy we are back or you must like having the grandparents around to help again and I don't know what to say.  

So you can go home again. But things will have changed. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Land of Oz

As I was driving along I-5 on my way out of the Silicon Valley I kept thinking of Dorothy in the land of Oz. When we left our little suburb in the Pacific Northwest, we were really excited about the adventures that lay ahead. I think we were a little bored with our simple life. So when we got to the Silicon Valley where the cars are mostly shiny, new and fancy and people did blink an eye at spending $3.25 for a cupcake (and why buy one when you can by a six pack), I was a little overwhelmed. The women dressed a little nicer. The nannies were everywhere pushing the $600 strollers that I had only seen once or twice before actually being driven around. I suddenly became a "caregiver" at story time at the local library as the librarian would ask, "Caregivers, would you help you kids put the bells away." I felt like Dorothy in Oz. 

But over time, I found my lion, my scarecrow and my tin man. I found my friend from church who had kids my age and a heart so full of peace I felt better just being around her. I met a kinder mom who had three boys, though her youngest was friends with my oldest, and I would listen to all the wisdom and humor she had to share about raising boys. I met my stay at home Dad friend who fit right in and who I learned so much from about gentleness and fun. I also met a woman at my middle son's preschool who gave me the courage to stand up and fight for my family when I needed to.  

While I eventually loved living in the land of Oz, in the end I was like Dorothy. I wanted to click my heals and go home again. Not because Oz was not amazing because it really is a great place to live! I fell in love with Sprinkles Cupcakes and the sunny weather. I loved having lunch with my kinder parent friends on Fridays and hanging out at the playground after school. I was incredibly blessed as was my entire family by the amazing teaching and people at our church. There are amazing people in Oz that I will miss deeply. 

But as Dorothy says, "There's no place like home."