Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Friendships that flourish, thanks to our kids

Sunday was Tim's birthday. On his first birthday, I think I received as many congratulatory notes as he did, but now that he's fifteen, less of a deal is made even among other moms about the "mom-birthday." This year I heard from just one mom wishing me a happy Tim's-birthday. It was the mother who shared a hospital room with me during the two-day stay after Tim was born.

Later that day, I visited with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. Well, really only a few weeks, but it was that critical first-few-weeks-of-school, and we had a lot to catch up on: how high school was going so far for her son and for mine; a landscaping project she had tackled Labor Day weekend; what was new at her workplace. We became friends after our sons bonded in a fourth grade reading circle.

Last week I worked on a feature story about apple picking. Fishing around for a clever lead, I put the word out to a circle of contacts that I needed an apple-picking anecdote. The first person I heard back from was a mom I met in the mother-baby group that Tim and I started attending when he was three weeks old.

It all reminded me of how many friends of my own have come to me through my children: from the woman I shared a hospital room with through those mother-infant groups and into preschool and elementary school, from friendships forged while watching our kids play baseball to friendships forged over school volunteer projects.

When our children are born, it's fun to imagine them having friends of their own someday, but I don't think I realized how much of an effect Tim would eventually have on my own social life. His friends' parents are our friends. So are the parents of his teammates and classmates. We've met people we never would have crossed paths with if our kids hadn't enjoyed hanging out together.

This wasn't something I expected as a perk of parenthood. I thought I had enough friends earlier in adulthood, before kids were part of the picture. But I'm so grateful for all the new faces the kids have indirectly brought to our circle. It's a benefit of parenthood I didn't anticipate.

Later in the evening, during Tim's birthday party, I took a picture of him and his three guests. Then I emailed it to each of the kids' mothers. They all wrote back within the hour to thank me.

It was a picture of kids celebrating Tim's birthday. But to me, there was a subtext to the photo as well. It was a celebration of my own friendships: some of the ones I'm most grateful to have, and friendships I wouldn't have without Tim.

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