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 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.
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.
Le ballon. Ballon blue. Photo by Anna Strahs Watts
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.
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.”