Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Old Friend

I got a random email last week from one of my closest friends from growing up. He and I used to be so close. Having him as a friend proved the point that you can have a best guy friend...until you can't.
I met him in third grade, we were a year apart in school, and he always felt more like a brother or a cousin than just a friend. Our friendships sustained from elementary school through college, and even through our twenties. When I moved here to LA he stayed in New York, but we continued to visit each other. There was never any chemistry between us -- we were just really good friends, until he met his wife.

I think we were in our late twenties when he met her and he knew pretty quickly that she was the one he would settle down with. He was that type of guy, the settling down type. I was not that type of girl then. So I think I was conflicted about him getting there so fast in his life. I met her twice and the second time I met her I made a joke about them getting married so soon. She didn't think it was funny. In fact, she didn't take it as a joke. My own feelings for losing him as the kind of friend I knew him to be caused me to stir the pot a bit with her. I think in hindsight I was sad to see him settle down so fast. It meant the end of a phase of having vacations, or taking him as my "date" when I was single. I wasn't quite ready to lose him. She wanted me out of his life though and I could see that pretty early on.

I tried to remedy our situation when I went back to live in New York one summer. He came to meet me for lunch. It was the summer before their wedding and he told me she didn't want to invite me to his wedding. He said if I wanted to be there though I should come. He has never cared much for ceremonies himself and chose to not attend his own college graduation, so I knew he meant it when he said the actual wedding day was more for her than for him, I decided that since I knew it would hurt her for me to be there that I couldn't do that to someone on their wedding day. That day at lunch though I had a hand written apology for her in my bag. While we were having lunch I asked how I might be able to fix things and he said she asked if I would apologize. On cue I took out the card for him to give to her. I never heard anything from her, and I never saw my friend again after that day.

Time has past though. I believe that was over ten years ago, and I have tried to reach out once or twice. I didn't hear anything from him but through his mom I learned they had a son and a daughter. I had hoped with the news that I had gotten married and had children of my own that we could let it all be water under the bridge. When I think about how close we were it makes me sad not to know him as a father. He is probably a great dad, since he had such a fun spirit and really enjoyed life. I was pretty surprised when I got an email for him. We filled each other in briefly but made a time to talk on the phone. We caught up as much as we could with details but nothing about what had happened in the past or if we would ever see each other in the future. He said he would send me some photos of his kids but I never got them. We were talking while he was driving back to his house on a Sunday afternoon. When he got home he seemed to have to get off pretty quickly. I wonder if his wife is even aware he reached out to me, and if I wonder if I will ever hear from him again.

My daughter is now about the age that I was when I met my friend. She has a bunch of close girlfriends but this year she also has made two very good friends that are boys. Watching them I hang out and play together it makes me happy that she gets joy out of all her friends gender aside. I do wonder though if they grow up together and remain close will some relationship later get in the way of friendship. Obviously some people can handle change and accept new people, but in case they can't I will be here for her to say "I understand how you feel." Having to lose a friend is not as painful in as having your heartbroken but often a heartbreak goes away. A loss of what I thought was a lifelong friendship seems to stay with me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Nanny

I am know I am not the only woman in LA who has chosen to be a stay-at-home mom but yesterday felt like I was. I took my boy to a story time at the library and there were only ten other kids there. Belonging to those kids were one grandmother, one mom with her small baby, and eight nannies. It was one of those activities where I spent most of the time wondering what I was doing there. My son was happy dancing around to kids songs, counting to nursery rhymes and being read stories, but I felt out of place. We went on from the class and walked over to the playground where again I was one of the only moms there.

Week after week I see these nannys. I am friends with many of them frequently during the week when they bring kids to the playground, swim class or story time. It just seems lately that the ratio of moms to nanny is so uneven. I realize that it is not a choice for every woman to be able to stay home or go to work. I realize that it is mostly out of necessity that a woman has to go back to work. I have been extremely priveledged to have the opportunity to stay with my children in these early years. I just happen to move from an area where not only were most of the women not working but they also had help, just because. Now I am in an area where most of the women do work and so it has got my wheels turning.

In the fall my boy will go to preschool and I will have a bit more time on my hands. I will probably start working part time, and this window as a stay-at-home mom will be closed. In the meantime I will soak it up and enjoy as much as we can together. I think I will stay away from story time though. It is challenging not to go down the whole of "what am I doing playing with my two year old" when there is no one else in your peer group doing the same thing. There is no easy decision as a mother. If one works they often feel guilty for being away. Every mother strives for balance and it is not so easy to come by.

Coincidently, my daughter came home from school yesterday and said the teacher asked how many of the kids wanted to work when they got older. My daughter said she was the only one who did not raise her hand. This was not the example I was trying to set when I chose to stay home with my kids. I ended up having a whole conversation with her about what I did and who I was before I had her. It was good for her to hear that what I am going now is considered work and what I did then was considered work. She asked some questions and listened to some stories, so I am thinking in the next few years it would be great if she didn't just hear about who her mother was but instead see who I can be now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our Hike!

Last week was bit challenging. My daughter got moved up to the next level in gymnastics. She was so excited to into her new class but it didn't go quite how she expected. Dang! those expectations.
We are at the type of gymnastics studio now that is less nurturing and hand holding than her last one was. It is a Russian gym and they mean business, in that they take more money from me and they really train my kid. On her first day Twig was the only new comer to this level. All of the other girls had been taking it a while, so most of the skills were new to her. She was definitely the weakest in the group and she felt it. She couldn't quite get a couple of things and her frustration mixed with nerves got the best of her and she began to cry mid class.

She is six years old so hard core training and the idea that completing is the next step has made me reevaluate. As a former skater I love the idea that she has something athletic to focus on and to build her confidence, but I wasn't six when I began competing. I also don't know that I want a sport that requires so much stress on her little body. Not to mention that it is up there with figure skating on the highly competitive list. She has a natural talent for gymnastics. She is tiny but strong and loves nothing more than to hang, swing, and jump. She is definitely good at this, but that doesn't mean this will be the only thing she will be good at.

She woke up the next morning after class and said she wanted to stop going to gymnastics. I explained that when something is challenging and scary that is not when you give up. I told her we will keep going until the end of the session and that we can see how she feels then. When I took her back this week though she cried on the way and twice during class. She finally succeeded in the skill that she was afraid of and came running to me at the end of class saying it all got easier. We talked about how she didn't give up and it paid off. She is doing a unit on this very subject at school right now, and so when she got in the car I shared with her an email I got while she was in class. I submitted a piece of writing for a show and it didn't get chosen. I read her a very well written email that was sweet and complimentary but still a "better luck next time, and do try again." I told her that sometimes when these things happen I feel like giving up too but that the only thing that makes me feel better is to try harder. I told her I let myself be a bit sad about it and then make a plan for how I can do better.

This weekend she wanted to go on a hike right near our new house. We see people on the hike with kids a lot but haven't braved it ourselves. She really wanted to go though so I explained to her that she had to actually walk the hill herself. She agreed and we decided to go. I carried my boy on my back in a carrier and my husband hiked ahead with her. She impressed us so much. She was strong and determined and found out she shares a love of hiking like us. She saw a little rabbit, heard birds, saw the most amazing view of the city, mountains, and the ocean. As we hiked back down we witnessed the beginning of a beautiful sunset. I think we all felt pretty strong and accomplished. I carried a 25 pound toddler up and down, and she did the whole hike herself. I stopped her toward the bottom though and told her she didn't keep her word about walking the whole time. Most of the hike she ran.

There are many things she can do and do well. There will also be things that don't come easilly or that just get challenging along the way. Hopefully this school unit will teach her to keep trying in case my message to her isn't loud enough on it's own. This is an ongoing lesson though. Just this morning she fell off her bike on the way to school. She wanted to go home and call it a day then. She said she wasn't going to school and this was the worst day ever. I have no idea where she gets such a flare for drama. I made her get up tears and all and continue riding with me to school. She was not happy about it and this might be stamped in her memory as her worse day yet, but she did it. There will be harder days to come but she is learning. As we all are that life is work. The pay off is great but it isn't all easy!