I miss talking to my girlfriends. When I was single, I spent hours on the phone with my country-wide network of friends. Now that I’m married with kids, I don’t have the time. They don’t either, as most of them are also married with kids. I used to bounce everything off my friends. My husband is a great bouncer-off-er of ideas, but I like multiple opinions. For example, now that my daughter is ending her second year, she’s getting a little complicated. Last night, on the way upstairs to bed, her little brother pointed to the potty and started screaming because he wanted to sit on the potty. Immediately, she sat down on the floor and began screaming, too. I had no intention of putting either of them on the potty. She’d already been and he was already in his diapers. So, holding onto my screaming son, who was trying to head butt me to make me put him down, I told my daughter, “You stand up and go upstairs or I’m going to take you up.” That sometimes works, because she likes to do things on her own, but not tonight.
“NO!” she screamed, sobbing as if I’d taken away her best friend.
Once it’s been said, it has to be acted on. The parent’s rule. So I grabbed her with my free arm and pulled her up to the landing. Then I thought, “What am I doing? This is not good parenting.” I’m all for strictness with kids, but not to the point that you take the joy away from everyday interactions. Plus, I think it’s important to try to find ways help kids diffuse their tantrums so they can learn how to get themselves out of emotional tailspins. The three of us sat on the landing and I said to my daughter, “What’s the matter? Are your feet too tired to walk up the steps?” She kept crying. I gave her feet a little massage, but this didn’t make one iota of difference.
“I have some wake-up dust. Should I sprinkle it on your feet?” I asked. No answer, but her feet shot out in front of her. I sprinkled a little imaginary dust on her feet and then gave the bottoms a light tickle. “Are they awake?” I asked, “and ready to dance?” She looked like she still wasn’t going to budge, but then my son, ever open to suggestion, started dancing. So of course, she had to stand up and dance a little, too. She still didn’t want to go upstairs, but she wasn’t crying anymore. So I carried my son upstairs and while we were brushing teeth, she scampered up behind us.
When I was a kid, everyone in my neighborhood had stay-at-home moms. The moms did things together and in a pinch, babysat for each other. I wish that, after my kids went to bed, I could walk down the street to my girlfriend’s house and share a pot of tea while my husband worked in the upstairs study and our kids slept.
My friendships were enduring and influential on my development. I miss talking to my core group of five or six friends. For hours, for years, we talked, and talked, and talked. Before kids, we had scads of free time to talk about life, dreams, art, minutea, and how we were developing as human beings. Without these conversations, I feel like an old house that has weeds growing over the lawn. I wonder what kind of interesting flowers are growing in me, but hidden under the cover of this amazing, dynamic, early period of marriage and motherhood. I can’t wait for that time in the future, when life is less hectic and I can start pulling down vines and stichwort to see what’s been growing underneath.