Way back in those early days when I only had one child and that child was a babe-in-arms and my house seldom rang with conversations along the lines of
Elder Girleen: P, you’re bothering me! You’re in TIME OUT
Younger Girleen: Arghhhh! You Poopy Head! Moommmeee, A says I’m in TIME OUT.
I’d observe families that contained elementary school-aged children with the internal equivalent of slackjawed wonder. Not because I was wondering how on earth they managed but more because they might as well have been aliens from another planet. There I was, fretting about sleep and how many dirty diapers my kid had, attending playgroups where folks debated types of diapers and the dangerous outgassing caused by miniblinds hung in a nursery — and in the very same universe these folks were attending soccer games every single Saturday morning of their lives, being Girl Scout leaders, explaining to kindergarteners what drugs were (think about how hard that actually is), carpooling, baking things for bake sales.
They were brash, they were loud, and occasionally they had our sedate little family of three over for dinner, when they carried on heated discussions about politics at the same time as a three-year-old created an extremely hands-on art installation out of his mashed potatoes and a seven-year-old had the sort of very verbal crisis that is caused by being six or seven and having a brain that is way too big and moves way too fast for the emotional wellbeing of anyone within a ten mile radius.
This morning I was up at the crack of dawn putting a pot roast in the crockpot (the way I cook with a crockpot doesn’t really lessen my labor, it just moves it to another time, say, 6:25 in the morning); as I write this people are dropping off eggs for the neighborhood egg hunt tomorrow, which I somehow became the organizer for (“And I ask — how did I get here? This is not my beautiful house; this is not my beautiful wife…”) and I’ve just realized that the neighborhood egg hunt, which used to consist of about seven kids, may be extremely successful this year, so much so that the older kids of which there used to be NONE in our neighborhood may run roughshod over the tiny toddling one-year-olds whose parents are imagining this egg hunt as a lovely spring photo opp. I’ve also realized that one of those bulls in the china shop will probably be my own offspring.
One of the most overused platitudes around would have to be that annoying old chestnut before you judge a (wo)man, walk a mile in their moccasins but sayings become old chestnuts because they’re especially apt, right?
I can’t think of a single place where more shoe-trading goes on than Parenthood World. If I said this strange and wonderful place I find myself in now had heightened my ability to empathize I would sound like a saint or something, and that I most definitely am not. But because of it, the thread of my life has been more tightly woven into the fabric I only know to call community.
It’s a beautiful tapestry, isn’t it?