Today I call a girlfriend and ask how her day is going. To her credit, she tells me the truth. We end up in a twenty-minute phone call touching on the subjects of mild depression, financial hardship, and impossible housekeeping standards. She is feeling overwhelmed, and – more notably – guilty at her “lack of competence” for feeling overwhelmed. Her self-depreciation is the hardest thing for me to hear, but also the thing I know I can’t talk her out of.
When my girlfriends offer up their reality to me I feel very honored. I don’t know if they all know this. Oftentimes there is simply not enough time – or rather, not enough space from our leg-clinging screeching brood – to fully acknowledge the bonds of friendship formed as we knit our lives together. It is still precious to me even as it flows in the daily current of my life.
Over the last year my sense of community has become fierce. I have support. I have friendship again, after many years of considerably less intimacy. I have women in my life – women stronger, funnier, and more interesting than I ever have before. At one playdate alone this morning we exchange Thank You cards and invitations to get-togethers; stories of the tense “discussions” had with husbands over unequal contribution. A friend tells me there may be reconcilliation in their recently-split partnership. Our due-any-minute-now friend (Baby #3!) shows up with her two girls in tow and a shorter haircut that sets off her glow. Another friend asks to borrow my knitting book and takes it a block away to the print shop to copy a pattern. Still another Mama is hosting a Christmas event in a downstairs room and has provided snacks, a craft, wrapped presents for boys and girls, and a table full of hand-me-down good-as-new toys, shoes, clothes. I score coordinating Christmas sweaters and, back upstairs, pass one to my girlfriend who has a son the same age as Nels. We agree on matching outfits for the boys for a date later this week. Yes! Go ahead and laugh. You know, that’s exactly the kind of thing I would have made fun of only a few years ago and exactly the kind of thing that gives me a kick now.
I enjoy walking the streets of my little town and passing women whose children I have knit or sewed for. I can say, “Hello! How are you?” with real warmth because I enjoy these women. At home now, tidying up the living room, two moms stop by simultaneously – one to give me a shirt to mend, the other to pick up her recipe book I borrowed to copy the lovely chocolate ganache recipe she brought to last week’s baby shower.
I have made fun of the domestic life in the past with scorn for the type of lame-ass who finds this sort of shit interesting. Now that I’m here it’s very sweet indeed. And by the way? All our handcrafted, hand-scrubbed, hand-me-down or baked items go over very well with the husbands, children, neighbors, and bachelor coworkers who are on the receiving end.