Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A stroll on the other stride

Now that the weather is (kinda, sorta) springlike, the park across the street from my house is busy once again with walkers and strollers. There is a teensy, tiny, ancient, Asian couple that does at least three laps every day, like clockwork. There are the requisite dog walkers. There is a woman who pushes a child in a wheelchair, fast. I know she's doing it to get a workout but sometimes it looks as if she is trying to run away from what must be a stressful daily grind. Or, I think to myself, maybe the child loves the feeling of flying, and his mom pushes him as fast as she can to grant him that pleasure, that freedom.

Of course there are the other mommies too. There must be a new moms' stroller-cise class meeting nearby because the Snap-N-Gos and the huge travel systems come in big clumps at mid-morning. In waves of two and three and four the women pass my window, pushing and chatting and willing those postpartum pounds to drop off.

When Jo was a newborn I'd drive to Hoboken (just down the river from where I lived, but more gentrified) to stroll with the mamas there twice a week. I loved having something to do, someone to talk to, store windows to peek in on my way back to the car. The other moms were friendly and we were all in that same new-mom boat, figuring everything out.

I always felt just outside the circle, though. I didn't live in their neighborhood and I didn't frequent their other haunts, share their pediatricians or breastfeeding groups. I wouldn't run into them on the street on days we didn't stroll together. And unlike almost all of them, I'd be going back to work soon. Once I did, I only rarely had the chance to see any of these new friends again, and by the time I left the area two years later, I'd lost touch with them all.

Seeing the moms walk by my window again now makes me wistful for those days, even though I'm happy with where I am and what I'm doing. I like working, I like having children big enough to walk and talk and feed themselves, I have good friends (online and off).

Thinking about what used to be or what might have been or what still could be doesn't mean I'm regretting the way things are. It just means I might like to walk a different route once in a while, to see what it's like.

...and this has been my first Hump Day Hmm. Taken terribly literally, but I think Julie will forgive me.


Mandy said...

Interesting post. I am only a SAHM for the year maternity leave (one for Nate and now one for Jake). It's not too unusual in Vancouver as cost of living prohibits most from staying home permanently. So for me, all the work that went in to bonding and creating moms groups was somewhat destroyed when we all went back to work and were too busy to meet up anymore. It makes me a little sad to think about it. And now, on leave two, I'm a bit in limbo... between work and mommy worlds. But, soon the boys will be independent and then I'll have a whole new set of "I wishes".

Lady M said...

I was lucky that my moms group was open-minded enough to accept SwingDaddy into their ranks when I went back to work ten weeks post-birth and he took a leave of absence. The other (mostly stay at home) moms are much closer to each other, but they're inclusive to the working moms as much as possible. I'm amazed at how fortunate I was to stumble into the "New Moms" class where we all met.

I like you Hump Day Hmmm!

Lisa said...

You brought back memories of slower-paced days where we'd meet up with the playgroup peeps once a week. Now alot of those moms are back at work. Guess the only thing constant IS change.

But its a beautiful thing to love where you are in your life at this moment. So happy that you are.

Julie Pippert said...

Not only do I forgive you but I think this is great.

I recall the first wave of friends from my moms group like that going back to work after 8 weeks. A few tried to keep in touch but, it faded, and oh I missed them. Within a year, the group had fragmented. There were the dedicated SAHMs, the vanished working moms, and then me, who straddled the two worlds. I wanted so to be included by the SAHMs, but I guess they had a hard time knowing what to do with me since sometimes I was available and sometimes I wasn't. Neither fish nor fowl.

So your last paragraph really speaks to me.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I think it is wonderful that you are happy where you at, and human nature to wonder about everyone else. Nice post!

Kirsetin said...

I know exactly what you mean about feeling wistful, even though you're happy where you are. The best thing is that you recognize both, and are figuring out where to go.

Also, I'm tagging you for a Stolen Meme. Love to see your responses. Have fun!

mamatulip said...

I get that wistful feeling too, usually when I hear a childless friend talking about a night out or being able to just up and go with nary a thought. It's hard not to get wistful for that life, sometimes...but, then I look around and see all that I have and it makes me smile.

Anonymous said...

I was never a SAHM until this past year and my daughter will be six in July. I had to work. My late husband and I both needed to hold jobs in order to pay bills and have health insurance not for the elaborate lifestyle. As a widow, the need was more intense. My second husband (married almost a year now) wanted me to have the time to be a mom at home because neither my daughter or I knew what that was like.

I felt very left out in my neighborhood of SAHM's. Even the few who did work were PT and I felt like a failure carting my child to daycare instead of the enrichment programs at the library or fitness center or the church playgroups. And everything was during the morning or early afternoon too, making it impossible for the working mom to "network" with other moms and for your child to become known and invited to playdates and birthday parties.

Now that I can be part of that, I find myself hanging back.