So here’s a confession that I’m not very proud of…Before I became a parent, I was NOT looking forward to hanging out with the parents of other kids. According to Meyers Briggs, I’m a ENFJ personality, which basically means that I’m as extrovert, friendly, chatty and not afraid of social situations or even speaking in front of large groups. So what gives? Honestly, while all of that Meyers Briggs stuff is true, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy for me to really, truly connect and establish friendships. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I only have a few very close friends, and to them, I’m loyal to a fault.
The reason I dreaded play dates involving other parents was that I didn’t think I would actually make friends with any of the other parents. Also, because I’m industrious by nature, there are always a million things I would rather do than have superficial social interactions. Yep, I’m a terrible, terrible person. But here’s the deal.
I was dead wrong about those other parents. And dead wrong about myself. Since having children, I’ve made more friends than I have in decades. Real friends! And while none of us have the time to talk endlessly about every detail of our lives like we did in our early twenties, we understand each other in ways that go beyond words. We share the struggles and joys of raising families, making tough career choices, taking care of aging parents and so much more. We remind each other that these are the best times even as they feel like the hardest. We help each other. We commiserate, and inspire one another. We see each other. We also drink lots of wine, eat lots of pizza and referee thousands of kid-sized conflicts.
Five years into parenting, I am looking forward to many, many more years of sharing the joy and the struggle with my parent-friends. I’m relieved that when the little kid problems are replaced by more daunting young-adult problems, I won’t have to figure it all out by myself. And when it’s all too much, I know I’ll have a shoulder, or ten, to cry on.