When I was seven months pregnant with #1, I quit my job, ditched my friends, and moved all the way across the nation.
I wanted to be closer to Mimi and Papa. DudeDad had gotten a decent government job. I was going to be a stay at home mom like I always wanted.
Turns out, SAHM life was harder than I’d anticipated.
DudeDad was gone to work all day. My only friend was my mom and she worked full time and lived an hour away from me, no traffic.
I spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy sleeping until noon setting up our new home and preparing for our new addition.
In a tiny, basement apartment. With yellow laminate counters. And cruddy tan tile in the bathroom. In the middle-of-nowhere Maryland.
When baby came things sorta got better because instead of being lonely, I filled the time with crying eating all of the food catching up on sleep. It’s all I had energy for anyway, what with the crying and eating all of the time.
Being lonely wasn’t a major concern anymore.
Eventually though, the kid got bigger, sleeping, eating, and crying weren’t really doing it for either of us anymore, and we began to crave companionship outside of each other. This being pre-Facebook era, I had to get creative.
I completely spaced on the fact that meeting new people while wearing a swimsuit would be torture, and signed us up for a mommy and me swim class at our local pool.
Session one was a bust. The class included me, two dads, and a grandma.
Not one to give up, I signed us up for a second session and two weeks in, success! I overheard someone talking about a moms club in the swimming pool locker room.
I put on my I-used-to-be-an-RA-in-college pants, went up to her as we were leaving the building, batted my eyes, told her how gorgeous her daughter was, complimented the rock and her hand, and just like that I earned an invite to the next meet-up!
Note: moms are easy.
Six months later I’d become a card carrying member of the group with. Sure, there were some things I was uncomfortable with: the fact that I was the youngest in the group by many years, and was not going to homeschool, skip vaccinations, or keep my child from eating anything that comes in a box just to name a few.
But the ladies were generally nice. And talking to someone that actually talked back was nice. And having a reason to put on real pants and a bra a few times a month was nice. And baking something delicious to share with someone who had teeth was nice.
I liked nice and I wanted to keep it.
Eventually it was our turn to host the monthly meet-up.
I cleaned for days.
I went and bought throw pillows and a clean rug for our entry. I got pretty boxes for the toys that we usually just kept in laundry baskets all over the place and closed the doors I’d forgotten the entertainment center even had.
I made a full menu of organic treats including a vegetarian casserole and a gluten free dessert that I didn’t even plan to taste.
Then I showered, put on a cardigan and my only pair of sensible flats and joyfully welcomed 8 moms and their various offspring into my home.
The first hour went perfectly; everyone was mingling, Dude 1 was sharing nicely, I’d gotten several compliments on my shoes, and my casserole, and my throw pillows.
It was when everyone was gathered in the living room, sitting around in a circle preparing to discuss our latest read, that I heard the distinct sound of guns cocking as my 20 month old pulled the 6-shooters his grandfather insisted he needed from the darkest corner of the toy box, pointed it at the sweet, sheltered children who never even watched television, and said, “Reach for the sky, suckas!”
And then he pulled the trigger while yelling, “BANG YOU’RE DEAD!” Over and over and over again.
Children went screaming towards their mother’s who clutched them to their chests as they glared at Baby Satan my baby in shock and horror. One child may have had a full on panic attack. I’m pretty sure I heard a few, “Why I never’s” amid the hysterics. Someone spilled strawberries all over my new throw pillow. I died a little inside.
I got up swiftly and drop kicked my kid into the toy box took the gun from my son’s tiny hand and put it immediately out of sight.
I couldn’t even speak I was so embarrassed, so I hugged my Dude to my chest and tried to disapparate, Harry Potter style, from the premises.
Eventually I found my voice and began to apologize profusely. I’m sorry my son scared everyone when he tried to fake kill your kids.
It was only as women began to hustle out of my home (some making unlikely excuses, some simply leaving in outrage) though that I realized how sorry I really was.
Sorry I was so desperate for companionship that I’d spent the last 6 months trying to be someone I wasn’t. Sorry that I tried to force my child to be anyone other than the wonderful soul that he was. Sorry that for about 38 seconds I actually felt ashamed of my little boy because of the foolish judgments of others.
Twelve years later, here are some things I’m not sorry about: My Dude has grown into a pretty spectacular human despite his joy of using pretend pistols to pull off fake assassinations. I have a bunch of great friends who know the real me and like me anyway. Facebook was invented and I can hang out with people without actually having to clean my house. And, I’ve never even spoken to most of the women at that meeting since that day.
“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” – Elbert Hubbard