The boy had some birthday money to spend, so we headed to an amusement park one day this summer. We ate lunch at a table surrounded by families also enjoying their lunches. There was a family pretty close to us with two kids about 6 and 8 years old. There was a family nearby with a cute little toddler, somewhere between 18 months and two years old. The mom of the older kids was interacting with the parents of the toddler, asking the girl’s name and her age, etc. I checked out both families, but then went back to my kid, who was, you know, showing me the food in his mouth on purpose and (accidentally) kicking me under the table, apologizing each time but then (accidentally) kicking me again a minute later.
It’s great to be nine.
I am not a social mom. I never did Mommy and Me. My boy doesn’t do many outside activities or classes. In the first six years that I was a mom, I ran a busy child care center that my son attended, and so our social network was large and all I had to do was go to work . I was the leader of a huge Mommy (and Daddy) and Me class every single day, because that was my job. I enjoyed this and was good at being the leader, but outside of work? I just wanted to be left alone. I will talk to other moms in public, but they would have to start the conversation. And if you see me watching my boy at his swimming lesson, please don’t sit next to me and talk the whole time- I want to actually watch my kid’s lesson. I’m not there for social networking.
I bet you REALLY want to be my friend about now, right?
All this being said, I LOVE to be around kids and families, observing quietly from the sidelines. As we sat and ate our lunch that cost about fifty dollars (is amusement park food made of gold?), I half- listened to the families around me. The mom of the older kids had kept up her interaction with the parents of the toddler and now it was time for the toddler to leave. I couldn’t resist turning around to watch this tiny girl wave goodbye and smile at her new found friend. For me, it takes me back to that simpler time when my boy was an unusually easy toddler.
Watching that girl must have taken the mom of the older kids back, too. I noticed we were both staring after the girl, kind of wistfully, as she wondered away.
“Now, those were the easy times”, she said.
And even though we had not exchanged a word the entire lunch time and she was not even looking at me, I knew she was talking to me.
And without hesitation, my unsocial self finished her thoughts.
“No talking back, no eye rolling….”, I added.
“Oh! No eye rolling!”, she nearly yelled.
“Those WERE easy times”, I said. “I’ll take a toddler any day.”
“Yes. Yes!”, she answered.
And just like that, we were on the same team. Partners in this parenting gig. In an instant, no longer strangers, we could finish each others sentences.
In the nine years I have been a mother, I am always amazed at this uniting force called motherhood.
It still catches me by surprise.