Growing Pains: Changing Relationships

When Damon and I first found out we were pregnant with Oscar, I had this bright vision of the future in which all of our friends were totally comfortable with kids, would have plenty of free time, and would stop by often to visit and play with our little bundle of joy. They would all be aunties and uncles. And Damon and I would most definitely have the time and energy for all this visiting and would even go out at least weekly to prove that parents still have social lives.

Flash forward to the present. Winter is begrudgingly giving over to spring, having never really gotten his fair shake. As the chill teases out of air, I reflect that almost all of our relationships have changed in some way—some are better, some are just different, and some we’re still figuring out. Perhaps that bodes well for lessons-learned down the road.

Across the board, all of our close-knit group have been incredibly supportive and positive. Largely, I think these relationship shifts are due to competing priorities, availability, and preferences for all of us. Our lifestyle—Damon’s and mine—as parents is very different to our prior lifestyle. We can’t be as flexible as we once were. Scheduling is a mess, and for a long time evenings out were nixed simply because I was too tired from nighttime feedings, etc. We can’t make plans at the last minute unless Oscar can be included, and a lot of times even when Oscar is welcome to come along, it’s challenging because of his naptime and because it means that at least one of us is going to be only half-present, trying to divide our attention between our child and our friends. It is far easier to have people come to us, though even that can be complicated.

Some of our friends have huge, exciting transitions occurring in their own lives as well – starting a new career, going to school, moving and renovating new homes, and caring for their own families. This past year, it seems everyone has their own “baby” to nurture along. I wish I could be around for more of it. I wish we could have everyone be more a part of our adventures. These new patterns are neither good nor bad. They’re bittersweet. They’re the reality, and I’m guessing they’re the reality of anyone who goes through an enormous transition or growth. There are days when I miss my people like hell. And I wouldn’t trade my young family for the wide world.

Then, these golden moments come blossoming out of nowhere. You know a good friend—a “family” kind of friend—when you can go without seeing him or her for months and then pick up right where you left off. The gap in between is like, I don’t know, like waiting for strawberries to be in-season. When the season hits, you savor the sweetness, and that best-of-all-sweetnesses carries you until the season comes back around.

Like this moment. Two weeks after Oscar was born, our new friends Anna and Jeremy joined us at my parents’ for dinner. Anna is an amazing baker and was super excited about making Oscar his first birthday cake. It still makes me all misty.

Anna & Jeremy

Anna & Jeremy celebrating with newborn Oscar

Stealing by my pal Robbie’s house every couple of months, even if just to run through and get caught up on her renovation projects, a quick hug, and then both of us back to our work.

A weekend visit in December with our friends Kat and Christian in Alexandria, not to mention meeting the newest addition to their family. Enjoying ridiculous spreads of finger foods (who needs a meal when you can gnosh like this?!), copious amounts of ‘80s music, decorating the tree together, this awesome movie, and lots of baby cuddles.

Kat and Anna

Visiting with Kat and Christian and their new buddha-baby

Going to brunch at Anna and Jeremy‘s. Anna just happened to have a tank of helium left over from an office party, and thus Oscar got to play with his first balloon. We ate well. We laughed a lot. We love these people.

Oscar and his blue balloon

Le ballon. Ballon blue. Photo by Anna Strahs Watts

Anna chasing Oscar and his ballon bleu

Anna chasing Oscar and his blue balloon

Reuniting the gang for an amazing evening out at Robbie’s (we got a babysitter, like real grownups!) to celebrate all her hard work renovating her new house. This group has been gathering together for about ten years, I guess. I love these people. Damon loves them, too. (How could he not? That’s one of the litmus tests I used on him when we were first dating. He passed with flying colors). Being all together again after such a long time was nourishing. I floated for days after.

good old friends

Good peeps: me, Robbie, Damon, Nan, and Joe. Not pictured: lovely Pamela. Photo by Pamela Howard, http://www.invokewellness.com

Receiving this note from my pal Lauren, who’s got her hands full with her own two kids and still amazingly finds time and energy to be a superhero/rockstar. She nicely sums up all my thoughts:

“We’ve both been going through a lot in our own ways—maybe it’s time to bump our spheres a little closer together again.”

Yes, please.

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7 Comments

  1. Robbie rhur

     /  April 8, 2013

    Hey Girlie – I love this post – you hit it spot on. But yes, let’s see if our sheres can come closer. Until the end of May I will be furiously finishing the upstairs and then working on the yard but I am sure that things will be settling down this year and I will feel more social.

    Reply
  2. We were the first of our close friends to have a baby. It is hard to transition sometimes, but now each of my best friends is expecting their first and seconds children while I am expecting my third and it is exciting 🙂

    Reply
    • Congratulations! How exciting! So have your friendships changed a lot or did they remain steady for the most part?

      Reply
      • There has been some change. No more late night IHOP runs, and I did have one friend that did not understand why I had to bring my daughter everywhere, but breast feeding and semi attachment parenting made it a necessity. Once our baby-less friends adapted things have been pretty normal again, and we host most things, but it was like that before anyway so that wasn’t much of a change.

      • Gotcha 🙂 well again, congrats on number 3!

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