When we moved back to Oklahoma, we were technically still in our 30s. We were 39 – it was the month before we both turned 40.
We had produced all 5 of our kids by then, with quite the age spread- ranging from 16 down to 2.
There was certainly a wide demographic of potential friends to choose from in our area, but for some reason the women I clicked with were the mothers of our youngest kids, so most of our friends were around 5 years our junior. Not necessarily in chronological years, mostly in “parent-age*”
*You can calculate your “Parent–age” roughly the same way you calculate your dog’s age. 1:7 ratio – So oftentimes it seemed like we were 35 years ahead of our peers.
For starters, you and I were the only ones with teenagers – most of our friends’ children were pre-schoolers. That fact alone created a deep and wide chasm in the vast topography of our child-rearing experience.
But it didn’t prevent us from spending endless hours with those novices-in-training. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we formed a tribe.
We spent long leisurely afternoons at the park watching the kids play; we were the first families to open the neighborhood pool on Memorial Day Weekend and they had to kick us all out on Labor Day – reluctantly dragging our towels, floaties, ice chests and whiners.
But, we made our worlds a bit brighter every Friday afternoon when we took turns hosting “Happy Hour” on one patio or another.
I remember how mortified we were when our little ones would shout their goodbyes to one another in the Catholic school carpool pick-up line,
“Bye!! SEE YOU IN A LITTLE BIT AT HAPPY HOUR!!!”
Their merry salutations often caught the ear of a few of the more conservative parents, the Principal, a couple of teachers and the occasional Priest who happened by.
Most of the time I relished my role as the Senior Mom, but there were times I caught a little flak from our friends when our sassy teens were around, but I didn’t mind too much. First time mommies are a judgey lot.
It’s okay. I still cringe when I recall some of the ridiculous parenting views I held in my twenties. For example, my opinion on “diaper covers” for baby girls:
“I don’t know why people even bother having a baby if they aren’t going to dress it properly.” (A very immature Ginger snapped in 1987)
The grim reality of parenting quickly straightened my priorities out, didn’t it? 14 years later our sons were lucky if they had a diaper on at all They ran around like MOWGLI in A JUNGLE BOOK, barely wearing a loin cloth.
So, I certainly had it coming back to me in spades. I deserved what I got alł those years later when I was surrounded by my posse of “first-timers.” They had a front row seat to the happenings of Everything-Blanchard and could frequently be heard gasping in horror at all the atrocious things our teenaged daughters dished out.
Do you remember the Friday night I was fussing at one of the girls as she was heading out for the evening and she said, “Hey can you put the rest of that lecture in a text, you’re gonna make me late!” (Complete with the universal hand signal for texting – wriggling her thumbs in a mock-texting motion.)
The collective intake of air from my friends was so audible I’m surprised no one inhaled a bug.
As you and I attempted to conceal our amusement and just shake our heads at the clever irreverence of the Common American Teen.
We had simply moved on into the ‘choose your battles stage,’ while our friends were still basking in that innocent adoration stage. “You’re the bestest Mommy in the whole wide world!” – those halcyon days of sweetness they mistakenly thought would never end.
But end they did.
Right about the time we experienced our daughters turning into beautiful and accomplished young women, ever-so-kind, intelligent and respectful, everyone else’s kids (including our younger ones) morphed into surly teens…
And there went the neighborhood.
It was an all-out roller coaster ride from then on. The ones that seemed easy to raise turned out to be a tad more difficult than anticipated. The ones that seemed more challenging at first turned out to be easier than expected. But everyone kept right on parenting.
We all slugged it out in the trenches together.
And then, remarkably, all those creatures transformed into tolerable human beings. And, eventually into incredible adults. It’s amazing how that happens.
But, I must admit, we both secretly enjoyed mocking the audible gasp at our friends’ teenagers’ misadventures and antics through the years.
Now you’ve left us all behind to rest on our proverbial laurels and wait on the grandchildren. In our spare time, our friends sit around pondering the next generation and debating whether we want them to be “sweet and adorable” or “naughty as Hell!”
I’ll never forget the day you and I coined the term, “Revenge Grand-parenting!” We were all for it. It was no secret what camp we were in.
In a recent fit of maternal frustration, I blurted out to one of our friends,
“I hope my grandchildren are the brattiest brats that ever crawl across the face of God’s Green Earth!”
She almost choked to death on a lovely merlot.
MISERY…all she ever wanted was a wee bit of company…