I didn’t bring over a casserole. I didn’t ask important questions like, “How is the baby sleeping at night? or “How are you sleeping at night?” I didn’t offer to make a grocery run either or drop by so they could take a quick shower. I was in my twenties, single and focused on my career when my friends started having children over a decade ago. It wasn’t until I had my own children just a few short years ago that I slowly started to realize I could have done more.
No, I SHOULD have done more to support those friends knowing what I know now.
Is this an apology of sorts? I’m not sure. It feels a bit like one. But can you apologize for something you truly didn’t know in the first place? (An existential question for another time.) I guess what I’m saying is, “I see you, dear friends, on this motherhood journey.” While I’m just embarking on my own adventure with a four-year-old and two-year-old, I understand you and your journey in a way I couldn’t even comprehend before. Now your oldest children are beginning to enter the teenage years. That season of parenting seems so far in the future to me like a distant planet in a galaxy far, far away. Again, I am at a loss. While you’re navigating how to teach your children to safely use the internet and debating about cell phone use, I’m dealing with teething, potty training and preparing to send my first born to Kindergarten.
Yet somehow our parenting great divide works to my advantage. Because when I have questions and concerns about the very things I just listed (and even more), friend, it’s you I often ask or confide in. You’ve been there and came out the other side relatively unscathed. You share your own challenges and concerns with me about parenting your pre-teens. There are times I have no idea what you’re talking about. (What is juuling? I had to google that.) Then there are times I want to commit to memory the wise words coming out of your mouth. I want to record them so I can play them back when my own son searches “butt” on the school computer as a joke. You handled it so well after you and your husband laughed about it in private. I don’t know what the internet will look like in five years or ten years, but I have no doubt it will still be a scary place for parents and children. I hope your words about that and many other things will stay with me.
What does our parenting divide look like to you? Is it a sentimental trip down memory lane? Do my little ones remind you of your own children clinging to mommy’s leg, their little hands fitting inside yours? Or are you relieved you’re not turning 40 trying to scoop up a toddler in full tantrum on the floor of the grocery store? I can understand if you feel one of those emotions, both of them or even more I haven’t considered. Maybe I’ll ask you when we both have a chance to sit down and talk without being interrupted by our children! Our friendships have evolved and grown stronger over time even as our lives changed. For that, I’m so very thankful. I know now that I didn’t offer you the support a new mom really needs, but I hope you know I supported you the best way I knew how.