Before we had Joshua, I always marveled at how two strangers at the park with their kids can talk for hours, or how my friends who have kids tend to only hang out with other adults who also have kids. My co-workers who have kids usually gravitate toward each other at a social event, leaving us kid-less kind behind. If I walked towards the circule of chatting parents, they stop talking and look at me like I’m butting in where I do not belong. It seemed like these people, just because they have children, belong to an exclusive club of some sort.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved kids. I just didn’t understand what it’s like to have one.
I was taking Sam for a walk in the park the other night, and started chatting it up with another dog owner about her lab retriever. The conversation quickly went from talking about our dogs’ temperament to all about our kids.
After we went our separate ways 15 minutes later, it struck me that I’ve just had a parenthood club conversation with a complete stranger. It’s a club with exclusive membership for parents only. You will only understand the code and conversation if you are a parent. Membership is free, but it cannot be purchased. You don’t have to like the other members, but they are in the same boat as you and often have similar challenges as you. Sometimes the other members have very useful tips to offer. You don’t have to know the other member’s name, but you see them at your kid’s swimming lessons or music classes or the playground in your neighborhood. In fact, you likely know their kids’ name before you ever learn their name. You can quickly become bestfriends with another member because your kid is a picky eater just like theirs, or your kid didn’t walk until 13 months and neither did their kid, or you are both working parents trying to find that elusive balance. You spend more time with your friends who are members, because they can relate to you better. You see your non-member friends less now, because they don’t understand why you just can’t party it up like you used to.
Life has certainly changed dramatically now that Cliff and I have joined the club. It’s not all perfect, and it’s not all bad. Given the chance to choose again, I would do it all over in a heartbeat.