Picking Up Chicks

The military has afforded us the opportunity to make some incredible friends. INCREDIBLE. Friends who I cried for as we or they moved on to the next adventure. Friends who I still chat with via social media and text, and yes, even by phone. There have also been what I call “friend fails”. Those would be the people you find out much too late are just either not compatible or are flat out crazy, but slipped under the craydar (crazy radar).

I’ve pondered the wonder that is making adult friends many times, but I have to say – California is a world unto its own. How the heck do you make mom friends when you move every three years? One word about being in the military sends many potentials running for the hills, even in a military town. Why invest when you’re just gonna move away? I get it. How do you make adult friends when your kids are older than all the toddlers running around the playground…and you don’t drink….annnnnnd you are kind of an introvert?

I met one mom at school orientation. She seemed nice and the kids hit it off. She told me many great places to eat in the area and some of the local hot spots. The secrets to navigating traffic timing were shared. We saw each other at a couple of functions. It was nice, all happening organically and not too fast (wouldn’t want to rush into anything too quickly). Then I bumped into her at a store and noticed what could have been a bit of powdered donut residue just around a nostril. Or it could have been some not-blended face powder. But….it seemed to be something else entirely based on observed behavior. It was also 8:30 am. Super awkward. Not my scene.

The second day of school I was approached blindsided by a mom of a student in my son’s class at the crosswalk. “HI! I noticed your son is in my son’s class! My name is June and this is my husband Mark. You are? And are you new to the area? Oh! You’re military! So you live right here!? No? Oh, you are on the waitlist. I see. And how long are you going to be here for? Andallthe500otherquestions.” I had no idea you could interrogate someone at a crosswalk and ask that many question in the time it takes for the stoplight to cycle through 1 time. I had to sit in my car for 3 minutes sipping my coffee to digest that entirely one-sided conversation. Who does that?!

Over the summer I chatted with a nice mom at the playground in our neighborhood. She had just moved in so we were commiserating on the challenges of relocating and being in the thick of the cardboard ocean. Against my better judgement, we exchanged numbers. I haven’t heard a word from her since. Today I got a text asking how I was, and what I was up to this Saturday. It had been so long, I had to think for 10 minutes about who the heck this person was. Once I realized it was a ghost from summer past, I responded, and she then invited me to a “business opportunity” to make residual income. Obviously I need to trust my instincts. A month and a half and no word. Then boom – besties who are going into business together?! Uhhh, no. Lose my number thankyouverymuch.

Not so shockingly, Hannah has made many friends already, being the ray of sunshine that she is. (Come to think of it, Hannah might one day be the crosswalk interviewer!) She came running up to me after school last week, breathless, “MOM! My friend’s mom wants to meet you!! Come quick!”

Me: “Sure!” I say brightly! With lots! of! exclamation! points! and! fake! smiles!

Sigh.

Turning the corner I walk in the room and see a woman who is everything I am not. She literally looks like she stepped out of Vogue. I tower over her because of course she is the size of a child. I could hip check her and she’d bounce half a mile. “Hi! I’m Hannah’s mom,” I introduce myself and try not to crush the limp Barbie-esque hand she extends. Picture Real Housewives. Or Stepford Wives.

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Friend’s Mom gushes: “Oh it’s such a pleasure to finally meet you! Hannah has told me so much about you!”

Me: Blinking. ***Crickets***  ‘Finally’ meet me? School has only been in for a week and a half! What the heck has my child told her? Oh I’m sure I’m under the bus. Waaayyyy under that bus.

Friend’s Mom continues in her sing-song voice, “My daughter has been raving about how wonderful Hannah is and I was so hoping she’d find someone to be her BFF! They seem to be a perfect match! Let’s meet at the park tomorrow if you’re free to have a playdate!”

Me: Still blinking. This is all happening way too fast. Her voice is seriously like a character on SNL. (Yes, the Californians. EXACTLY like that. For real.) “Okay, that would be lovely,” I reply, continuing the ruse that I am, in fact, a functioning adult and am not panicking inside that I will have to make small talk with a stranger to whom my daughter has no doubt told our entire life story.

The following day Hannah can hardly contain her excitement. We meet up at the playground and the kids play. We chat. Lots of talk of GMOs and healthy eating. She insists that I must try a nut bar she just purchased. She laments that her “household help” that has been with her family for over two decades has suddenly moved away. “I’m simply overtaxed with committees and volunteer work – I just don’t know what I’ll do!” She asks if I have a cleaning person. I respond with the “I’m a do-it-yourselfer”-type. She tells me that I “simply must come by the house for another play date some time.” When my daughter sees this person’s beach front property, boat and hired help, she’s never going to want to come home!

I try to be an optimist/”bloom where you’re planted”/make the best of all the duty stations sort of approach to life in the military. Some are better than others, but after my track record so far, I’m just not holding my breath. I feel like I’m being Punk’d. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Recreational drug use, check.

Crosswalk interrogator, check.

Untethered to reality, check.

Pyramid/ponzi schemer, check, check, check.

As the saying goes, ‘I think the more people I meet, the more I like my dogs’. Based on what we’ve seen so far, if I’m friend-single this time around, I think I’ll be okay with that!

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I Had No Idea

As a kid, you must have imagined what it was like to be an adult. Now that you’re a grownup (or becoming one), how far off was your idea of adult life?

This prompt from a few weeks ago made me laugh out loud. My vision was WAY off! My son recently exclaimed that when he becomes a grown-up, he will do whatever he wants to do, (like play iPad all day, everyday)! Didn’t we all think that being an adult was going to be the best? That we would have freedom and no one would tell us what to eat, when to go to bed, make us do homework and chores? That is the irony, I suppose, that when we have freedom, we don’t necessarily recognize it for what it is because at every stage of life, we have our worries. We are in our “big time” right then. Only in hindsight can we fully understand how we grow over time. Only then can we fully comprehend what freedom really looks like.

Recently, I wrote about what I do all day as a stay-at-home-parent. I, in no way, pictured this sort of life as a kid. I planned to work. Kids weren’t really on the horizon. I’ve worked since I was about 14, so it was always just a given. I think as a kid, I figured I would have kids and family life, but I never really considered it. I never contemplated should I stay home or work. Growing up my own mom worked, and it just was the way it was.

There is a picture of me as a 4-year-old at my parents’ house. It’s of me with four band-aids on my knees with a microphone in my hand singing with headphones over my ears. Not only did I want to be a singer (which would never happen as anyone who has heard me sing will attest.) I was pretending to “fly” like Super Grover and “flew” down the driveway, thus sustaining my scraped-knee injuries. I literally thought I could fly, that I could be like Super Grover. I wanted to be an actress on a soap opera. I wanted to live in New York. I wanted to be a dancer. I wanted to be a linguist or an interpreter. I wanted to ride horses. I wanted to be a vet (until I accompanied my cat to her check up and discovered how temperatures are taken.) I changed vocational passions every week or two.

Flash forward to 37, two kids, a dog and a hubby and it is not at all what I would have thought my life would be like. When you have little-to-no life experience, you don’t know what’s out there. I had no idea I would marry a man in the military. I had no idea I would stay home full time to raise a family. I had no idea. About anything.

I had no idea that I would love my kids so fiercely. And be willing to fight for them like nothing else.

I had no idea that I could be so dang tired.

I had no idea that living in different places would grow me as a person, stretch my comfort zones, but most of all, lead me to all sorts of wonderful people I am lucky enough to call friends.

I had no idea that unloading the dishwasher, stepping on a misplaced Lego, or repeating myself fifty thousand times would make me want to tear my hair out.

I had no clue about noise. How much of it kids make, and how much I would bask in silence when it occurs.

I had no idea that having children would drastically change the way I saw my husband, how watching him become a parent with me would deepen our relationship in ways I couldn’t imagine.

I had no idea that I would fall in love with a dog. That I wouldn’t mind scooping poop.

I had no idea that I would actually hold out my hands to “catch” when my children show signs of vomiting. (And it wouldn’t make me sympathy-vomit.)

I had no idea how much I would value my alone time. Time to just think, pray, reflect and just be me, outside of my role in the family.

I had no idea how much I would come to crave really good chocolate. And wine.

I always thought of myself as a suburban girl, preferring a city with lots of things to do and places to go. I had no idea how much I would crave living in wide open spaces.

I had no idea that motherhood would be simultaneously the hardest, and best, thing I’ve ever done.

I just had no idea.

This life is not anything I could have dreamt, but in so many ways it’s more than I deserve, more than I could’ve asked for, and far richer than I could’ve imagined.

Perhaps my son is on to something. This being a grown-up thing is pretty darn cool.