About a year after I got married I saw an interview with Julia Roberts during which she remarked her first kiss with her husband made her stop and think, "That will be the last first kiss I ever have." So sweet. Very romantic. Until I realized that my last first kiss happened in 2004 and I never acknowledged it and then I started getting very anxious why didn't I realize I'll never have another last first kiss again oh my God I'm going to be 30.
Romance is different after being with someone for 7 years. It's not that get-your-heart-racing-every-time-the-phone-rings. And after you have a kid, it's even MORE different. And for a minute I considered I might miss it forever; that is, until, I discovered Mom Romance.
When Abe was 6 months old we started going to Baby Gym. Thinking it was a gym, I wore a sports bra and running shorts to my first class. (I have since adjusted my wardrobe.) I entered the room to a bunch of moms who knew each other and knew each other's children.
"Oh he's crawling!"
"Hi Sydney, you are getting so big!"
"I don't know, he's still not napping."
I introduced Abraham and myself to a number of the moms who looked to be on my wavelength. Most were very nice, but their kids were five and six months older than Abe. Not a big deal when you're 30. A VERY big deal when you're 6 months old. We had nothing in common. But I stuck it out and attended week after week until Abraham became a Baby Gym favorite. And I got to know a lot of the moms. There are a few stereotypes that I have found in every baby-centered activity:
- There's always that mom who needs to interject something amazing about her child and does so at a time that makes no sense. Like when we're standing in line to hang from the trapeze and she turns around and says, "When I put him down last night he waved at me and said, 'Buh buh!'" You want to care, but you don't. So you smile and say, "Wooow." This only encourages her to expound and then you're stuck listening to story after story about "amazing" things her child does.
- There's the mom who brought her friend and only hangs out with her friend and even when you try and relate or make a joke she looks to her friend to decide if they think it's funny. You often want to high five these women in the face with a wet sponge. These are women who were popular in high school. Mean girls still exist. They're just not as thin.
- There's the mom who knows more than you. About everything. So shut up.
- There's the mom who clearly lives on a commune and refuses to cut her child's hair or wash her jeans. She makes comments like, "His energy is off," and can be seen lying on her back in the corner watching her child climb a ladder while the rest of the class is having circle time. Don't worry. She's benign.
- There's vanilla mom. She's just sort of there. She giggles at the appropriate times and participates in conversations when it's right, but never really adds anything to the room. If you try and have a chat with her it is always awkward and forced. She also seems to be on the verge of tears for about 30% of class but no one knows why. Pretty much everyone is uncomfortable around her.
And finally, there's the awesome mom. I like to consider myself to be an awesome mom. It's something I strive for. We're a rare breed. "Normal" people who don't expect others to parent the same way we do. A "brush your shoulders off" kind of tribe who don't mind when other people scoop up our children to play in the middle of Baby Gym; in fact, we welcome the break. I met a few of these awesome moms, but their children were quickly aging out of the infant program. I soon found myself the only awesome mom left. Until I met Kick-Ass. (That's not her real name.)
Kick-Ass is just as frazzled as I was most days. She is always in jeans and t-shirts and usually cracks up when her kid falls over instead of rushing to his side. She laughs loudly and never cuts in line. I quickly realized I wanted this woman to be my friend. And the Mom Romance began.
I started engaging her in conversation. I totally love her kid and told her how great he was. A lot. I said things I figured she'd think was cool. Then I thought, "What am I doing!? Just be yourself, Erin!" When you meet a mom as kick-ass as Kick-Ass, you don't want to ruin the friendship before it even begins. You second-guess everything and wonder if she thinks you're rad like she is. It took me about 6 weeks to work up the nerve to have a personal conversation with her that didn't involve, "Where did you get that onesie?" I think I started with, "What side of town do you live on?" The conversation grew exponentially until we were revealing our hometowns and favorite foods (she loves sushi, I love everything). It was a whole new kind of romance. Mom Romance. And I was a smitted kitten.
Then, suddenly, Kick-Ass wasn't coming to class. Oh my God, did her kid age out and she never said goodbye?! Why wouldn't she at least ask me for my number?! Or meet me during Free Play?!?! Baby Gym started becoming this thing I anticipated every week. Would Kick-Ass be there? Should I ask about Kick-Ass? I didn't want to seem desperate.
Week after week, I watched the door for Kick-Ass. And finally, and with no warning, there she was in a vintage Fraggle t-shirt and a big rat's nest on her head. Man she's so kick-ass.
She immediately sat next to me in the circle and we picked up right where we left off. Where had she been? VACATION. Her family goes on a month-long vacation every summer. And by the end of class it was clear she felt the same way about me as I did about her. We were ready for the next step in our relationship.
She invited me to lunch and we planned a play date for our sons and I practically floated home. No. It's not the same as when my husband got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. But who said life as a mom would be any less romantic?!?! Now the only question is, do you think she'd prefer ants on a log or goldfish puffs?