New Mama Musings

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Friendships, An Addendum

(Or is that Friendendum?)

I've been thinking about my previous post and I've come to a few realizations.

  • I am a bit nostalgic for the days when my friends and I all worked crappy jobs and really lived to socialize. But in many, many ways my life is more meaningful now and I wouldn't trade that for the world.
  • I do have someone I can call for absolutely no reason: my sister. No matter what time of day it is, or how recently we last spoke, she always sounds pleased to hear from me. I'm truly lucky to have her in my life.
  • A few days ago, when Henry and I had nothing scheduled, I called up a friend and within forty-five minutes he came over with his two younger kids to hang out for a few hours. So there's that...
  • The internet has changed the way people socialize. In the past ten or so years I've met a lot of wonderful, supportive people online through discussion forums. Two of them even sent me cards when my dad died. I consider them friends even though I've never met most of them.
  • And finally -- I think that if I'm not satisfied with the level of intimacy in some of my friendships, it's pretty much my own fault. I tend to be reserved and socially awkward (or at least I feel that way some of the time -- thanks, Mom and Dad!). It can be an effort to put myself out there. But even if the woman I mentioned in my previous post isn't interested in pursuing a friendship with me, I am surrounded by friends already. It's up to me to make of those relationships what I want.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Friendships Past and Present

"It is the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter."
-- Marlene Dietrich

I need friends.

Okay, I have friends. Good ones.

But back in the day I had peeps, homies, or whatever kids are calling them these days. Friends I could call up and ask, "What are you doing?" Friends who would come over just because I was bored. Friends I could share a carton of Ben & Jerry's with.

In a lot of ways my husband fills that role for me now. I read an essay in a recent issue of O, The Oprah Magazine (I know, I know) by a woman who finds it pathetic when a woman calls her husband her best friend.

I don't think it is. In fact, I think it's kind of sad when someone conveys that status on anyone other than their spouse.

I mean, c'mon, the man saw me give birth.

That being said, I do miss having girlfriends (though I had just as many male friends, back in the day).

Yes, I do have some. But as much as I love these women, I never feel like I can call them up just to talk about nothing. Because I'm bored. Or having a bad day. Or saw something in the paper that ticked me off.

And when we get together we e-mail and set something up a week or two in advance. While possibly necessary, making plans this way seems so...formal. So detached. So planned.

Is this just how things evolve once lives become complicated by marriages, mortgages and children?

Or is it me? My former friendships fell away after my husband and I got together under seemingly inappropriate circumstances. People in our circle were quick to jump to (false) conclusions.

I had one close friend literally turn her back on me -- which, by the way, sucks as much as you might think.

After that I was loathe to trust anyone with my friendship again, and it took me a while to cultivate the relationships I have now. Combine that with my reserved nature and I guess I just explained my own predicament. But how do I rectify this?

I've been thinking more about this topic lately because I recently reconnected with someone from way back when. She moved away soon after my now-husband and I started seeing one another, so I was never sure whether she was the judge-y sort or if we merely lost track of one another.

When we moved to this community over a year ago I found out that she was living here too, was a stay-at-home mom like me, and that one of her children was also born in 2005 and named Henry.

I e-mailed her but never heard back, so I figured she was thinking, "Oh crap, leave me alone." Or something like that. (Yes, I have issues.)

Last week it finally happened: I ran into her at the local library. I swear she turned to the woman she was with and said something about me, and that when she finally came over to talk she had a deer-stuck-in-headlights look, but she made polite conversation and even said something about getting together.

Which I promptly dismissed as something she felt she had to say.

But then she actually e-mailed me along with a mutual friend who also lives here, and the three of us and our six kids got together this morning at Starbucks. It was all normal-feeling and nice, and we went our separate ways saying we'd do it again, but here's the thing: I want more. I want to be friends again, not just acquaintances.

Is that wrong? Am I just nostalgic for a more carefree period in my life? Are things simply different now?

And how do I know when to pursue a friendship and when I'm veering dangerously close to a version of He's Just Not That Into You?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Henry still mispronounces many words, which is not surprising considering he's not even three. What is surprising, to me at least, is the degree to which he's aware of this.

When I ask him to come into the living room, he'll giggle and say, "I call it 'zoom-zoom.'" He asks me to say the name of the dessert we're making -- an apple crisp -- and then concedes that he says "apple trips." A hospital is a "hopsital," which certainly makes the place sound more fun than it actually is.

What's most interesting is that "nurse" comes out "nahhs" even though he's able to say it correctly. The other day I think he actually mocked me:

Henry: Nahhs! Nahhs!
Me: You want to nurse? Can you say "nurse"?
Henry: (giggling) I say "nahhs."

And then...

Henry: Can you say "nurse"?

What's even funnier is the way he said "nurse," the way you'd say it if you were making fun of someone with an accent.

Which, in his mind, maybe he was.

Sawyer the Saw, or, Making My Son Happy While Killing the Earth

Today Henry and I went to Kohl's Department Store so I could use a $10 coupon that expires tomorrow. I tried on numerous pairs of shorts without finding anything that fit (why do all pants gap in the back on me?).

Henry was getting a bit cranky, and I couldn't think of anything else to spend the coupon on, so we headed over to their very small toy section.

I figured I'd pick up something creative and open-ended like chalk or sand toys, but Henry latched on to this:

And yes, it is even more horrible in person. It's a big hunk of plastic that requires batteries and makes noise. Not only does the blade whir around and make the requisite saw noise, the thing talks.

Why does it have to be a talking saw?

I repeatedly told Henry I was not buying it. It was too noisy, too obnoxious, just too much. I picked out a Thomas the Tank Engine book and a shovel for the sandbox and he fairly readily accepted the exchange.

As I wheeled him up to the checkout, though, I started feeling guilty.

Just because I thought the saw toy was obnoxious didn't mean I had to undermine his choice. He didn't really need another train book or another shovel; I just picked them out because they fit within the $10 limit and they seemed fairly innocuous.

And the way he so readily put the saw back on the shelf when I told him it was time to go -- he was just so good about following my request, even though he was fascinated by the toy.

When we got up to the front of the store I leaned over and asked him if he'd rather have the saw than the things I picked out. He said yes, and I explained that although I wasn't crazy about it, I recognized that it was important to him.

We turned around, went back to the toy department, put the book and shovel back and found the saw.

And now I have yet another noisy, plastic, battery-operated hunk of junk expanding my home's carbon footprint.

Honestly, I can't figure out if this episode demonstrates growth as a parent or a slip-up on my part.

On the one hand I'm proud to have acknowledged that Henry's desires can have equal or even more weight than mine, especially when it concerns what he does and what he owns.

On the other hand, I just gave in to buying my kid Sawyer the Saw.

Maybe I'm just over-thinking things.