Monday, August 16, 2010

A Post in Which I Lament No Longer Lurking in Parking Lots

I am no longer a young mother.

Now I realize that when you read this most of you will say . . . I thought that lady has been ancient forever!  She has daughters who drive, go to college, and drink vodka for God's sake!

It may surprise you to know that, although I may have been ancient in your eyes now for quite a while, I  had my personal aha! moment just last week as I watched young mothers hanging out in the church parking lot after having dropped their offspring off at vacation bible school.

I suddenly realized what I no longer have. 

Let me just state for the record that - as crappy a mother as I am now - I  made an excellent young one.  I did everything a mother was supposed to do. . . toted my kids to soccer practice, Irish dancing competitions, ballet lessons, and basketball games.  I headed every school and church committee ever dreamed of and spent two years serving as president of the P.T.A.  In those days, I even made doctor's appointments for my daughters when required.

And, not for nothing. . .  but I didn't work back then - which allowed me the luxury of spending time with my children and doing laundry.  And not for nothing again . . .  but my daughters were little and the lifeblood that flowed through my veins had not yet been sucked out and left as depleted as my bank account.

But all of that was an aside.

The only little morsel of the last paragraph that matters for the purpose of today's post, is that I also had the time to connect with other mothers.  And I hung out in parking lots with them.  Everywhere. We dropped our kids off at pre-school, and we talked in the school parking lot.  We dropped our kids at choir practice and we gabbed in the church parking lot again.  We ran into each other in the grocery store parking lot and couldn't get enough of each other.

What did we talk about?

We talked about the minutia of our lives - like ear infections and strep throats.  We talked about our children's teachers and science projects.  We talked about P.T.A. committees and yoga classes. And I would be lying if I tried to say say that we didn't talk about other mothers too.  I'm ashamed to say that I did.  And I would also be lying if I tried to tell you that there wasn't a bit of one-up-man-ship or false bravado in some of those conversations.

And so it is with a real mixture of relief and regret that I have come to the realization that I have graduated to drive-by parenting.  I no longer have the time. . . the patience . .  .or the interest in the parking lot relationships that used to play a major role in my life.  Oh, I still run into those other mothers every once in a while, and we politely inquire about each other's children, but our paths don't cross nearly as often as they used to, and - when they do - we don't linger like the old days.

 Is this because we are more mature?  Less critical?  More private?  Less friendly? More stressed? Less caring?

I dare say it just may be that we have moved on.

Most of us are working now.  Most have discovered that we can no longer micro-manage our children's lives.  Some of us have had major upheavals come crashing down to teach us what it's like to live in glass houses.  Some have decided just to live life for themselves.  And some of us may just worry that if we told the truth about our lives, the other person would run the other way.

Or, then again, some of us may just be running home to blog . . .