Looking around the toy-crowded room, hearing all the animated chatter, I feel like I am home. Only it is not my home but that of a play date. My two-year-old and four-year-old daughters are running crazy with their friends. My eyes drink in their delight. I hope I have learned to change my background for them.
I had many friends growing up in school and the sports teams I played on. That all changed when I was ten years old and my mother died when she was 38 of breast cancer. Overnight I was the motherless kid at the playground. I felt like I didn’t belong anymore. Classmates whispered and pointed at me like I was a circus freak. Invites to their house became a rare jewel in my bleak childhood.
I entered my adult years with only my husband by my side. Years meshed into each other and I relied on very few people. Friends came and went at a distance. I never I felt like I truly belonged anywhere.
Then, by a medical miracle, I got pregnant. I was scared, as I didn’t know how to raise a baby. I did not have my mother to rely on. I read as much as I could and attended pre-natal classes. Our small circle of friends were of no help having not been parents themselves. There were no cousins to pave the way.
When our daughter was 2 ½ months old, I flipped through a pamphlet from the local health unit advertising the New Mommy and Me classes. I remember looking at her in her rocking chair and realizing I owe her an outside world, especially since she is an only child. She needs friends.
It is now four years later and we have been through more pregnancies, some losses and different jobs. I trust these 13 women with my rants, my respect and my kids. I give them my support and get support back. We all go weeks or even months without seeing each other due to schedules. Yet, when we get together it is like it was just yesterday we had seen each other.
My two-year-old waddles up to me and grabs my legs in a hug. As her friend runs past she de latches and follows in hot pursuit. All this time I never felt like I belonged anywhere. That could be why I fill my children’s schedule with many social opportunities. We do not have a lot of family around. The empty void gets filled when we go play with friends. My oldest loves these times with the kids she has known since birth. I see her across the room asking our hostess kindly if she can have some goldfish crackers. With a few munches, she runs away to play hide and seek.
Motherhood has changed how I used to socialize or stay in solitaire. Becoming a mom, taking eyes off myself and putting them on my children, has matured me to be more outgoing and fearless. I am unable to give my kids many living family members, but I can give them the gift of friends. That motivation has pulled me to do what is right for my kids. Giving them the social skills early on will help them be more comfortable in the outside world. In turn, it has forced me out of the house frequently to prevent the chill of isolation from setting in.
I spy my oldest darling across the room helping a younger playmate reach a toy they wanted. A strong feeling of pride washes over me like a warm ocean breeze. I am not a great baker or cook or housekeeper, but I am their mom who yearns to give them different life tools. Motherhood has made me a better person.