08/24/2012 19:08

Friends before raising my granddaughter

Although changes from the entrance of S (my granddaughter) have been many and like moving targets, none has been more radical than my friendships.  As a military wife for twenty-three years, friends came and went from location to location.  Some became friends for life and others became a paragraph within a holiday card once a year. Making the decision to retire in one location was the first time since childhood that my friendships would be sustained through visits, phone calls and outings.  However, these friends were all my "after children"comrades.  When we moved to this area, my children were living outside the area independently.  My acquaintances were part of my work network, neighborhood community or church affiliation.  The relationships were not  born from the introduction of a child at school or the soccer mom whose child was on the same team.  So they were different from the onset.  The bonding occurred through similar interests, common threads and far more intellectual conversations.  These were the women who spoke about politics, sex, religion, art, writers, places to travel, and the details of our jobs.  Our children were a sidebar in the conversation because we  identified ourselves in a completely alternative context than the one of being at home raising a family.  It tends to make perfect sense to speak about what you "do" and we were all about work, play and travel.  We had raised our families, or were childless and other issues took precedent.  Since my husband traveled, I was available at the drop of a phone call to go out for dinner, attend a concert, go for a walk or just visit and drink coffee.  However everyone knew I worried about S from the day she was born.  I knew the kind of environment that encased her little life and visited her twice across the miles before she moved here.  Each time I wept when I left her because I had a strong inkling that she would most likely become one more dysfunctional child raised in a dysfunctional family.  She was loved I knew, but poorly cared for.  It did not surprise anyone when I exclaimed through my tears, that I was going to raise her along with my son for as long as she wanted me to.  What did surprise me is that the relationships diminished with each passing month.  I place no blame or negative feelings for any of my friends.  I know they think of me, pray for me and try to see me when there is an opportunity, but the visits are few and far between.  Of course this is entirely a result of the change in my lifestyle.  I am most likely at a park, swimming pool or other toddler activity.  Long lunches and strolls through historic sites are the thing of the past or dreams of my future.  I travel to locations that are family friendly.  My friends just returned from the Caribbean, Alaska and Vermont.  Their itineraries consisted of places that I would most likely be struggling to entertain S rather than be entertained.  My "Before S" or "BS" friends are polite when listening to my way-too-long description of S learning to walk, but her care is now what I "do", thus this is what I now say.  I thank them for their patience and hope that they will still be there for me when S and I grow up....





Garden Ridge, Texas