I’m at home this week with both kids — it’s spring break, and M’s preschool asked if we wanted to take her home for the week, free of charge. We normally pay present or not, but they had an influx of kindergarten kids who needed childcare, and they knew I’d be home with A because we’re just keeping M in for routine and stability at this point.
Because M is used to doing things during the day, I’ve made a point of getting out and about every day, so far. I figured it would be good practice for when she’s at home during the summer! And, I’ve realized that we’ve actually cultivated a bit of the village I always yearned for when M was teeny.
We started our week off with a visit to the local drop-in kids’ centre, and though we were the only ones there (early in the morning!), M had a blast, and we all felt right at home. The director of the centre has been a great help to us through raising both kids — she’s full of resources, advice and experience. We’ve dropped by Mac Daddy’s work for lunches, where we’ve been warmly welcomed by everyone, and every morning we’ve headed to the library for story time, where we inevitably see friends — grown up friends and kid friends alike.
For the longest time Mac Daddy and I felt like we didn’t really have friends who were at the same stage as us. Most of our peer group was made of the younger crowd we inherited from my brothers-in-law, Mac Daddy’s brothers. I love all of those people still, very much, but once we had M and we couldn’t party hard on weekends and evenings we kind of faded out of everyday companionship with them. And most the friends I made when M was a baby, I didn’t do a good job of keeping up with when I went back to work and she went into daycare. It was way easier to keep up with everyone when I was on leave.
I view it as the ’emergency contact problem’ — without family in town, who will be your emergency contact on the daycare form? There is a fairly big corner of the population, locally, without that built-in family structure, just like us, but so many of them rotate on to new adventures while we’re still here.
But this week, and the last few months of playdates and friendly waves has shown me that things are on the upswing for us. How did it all come together, in the past three years? I think it’s a combination of things. M is old enough to engage in some activities like skating, baseball, the kids’ entertainment series in town, story time — and because I have A, he comes along. So we see the same people, the same parents and kids, regularly. In the meantime she’s made kid friends at school, so we have things in common with their parents. And, in some cases, those initial friendships from when she was a baby have deepened over time and now the baby playdate buddies are actually very dear to us.
So now on weekends we can sit back with a fellow parent couple, have a few drinks, and let the older girls run amok in the house. When one of those friends needs a pinch hitter babysitter I’m almost always game to volunteer, and I know that when we need a favour we have people to call on.
If you’re despairing at a lack of your own village — in my experience, it’s gotten easier as my child gets older. Hang in there!