Thursday, August 16, 2007

pinwheels

I went to a bar last night after work with some friends to celebrate a co-workers new job. As I looked around the table it struck me that I was one of the oldest people there and the only one with a kid. Their lives revolve around work, friends, travel, freedom. No one but me was watching the clock anticipating missed bedtimes and an overloaded partner, the hours between now and sleep and waking up to a toddler whacking you in the face. They talked about sports, dogs, beer, music. It felt foreign and comfortable all at the same time, like songs from the old eight track I keep under my bed. I looked around the bar and noticed all the other hipsters, drinking and carefree. And I thought for a minute about my old freedoms and my newer restrictions, my messy kitchen and toddler dervish.

Singlehood has left the building. The invisible velvet cord tightened around my waist and as I watched the pitchers empty I realized that I wouldn't want to go back if I could. That doesn't mean I don't miss the fast lane, the dates and spontaneity, the bars and the heat. But I also don't miss the obsession I had with myself. I used to think I was so important, that my incidentals were the crux of it all. But when a child is in your balance it's no longer about you. It's about bedtimes and special blankets. Milk in the fridge and sandy shoes.

And I am more and more okay with that. As my friends spoke in lilting and foreign tongues I turned my ear to catch it, to smell the Saturdays I can't quite recall. And then I realized the truth: I have a secret and I can't share it with them until they know it for themselves. For better and better it changes you. My expansiveness startles and settles all at once.

And there is no pub crawl that can satisfy me now that I know what I know. I was the first to leave amidst muffled ribbing for leaving so soon, for being so practical. For not having one more. And as I walked the city streets back to my car I noticed the others in fancy restaurants and outside patios enjoying a warm summer night carefree and alive. And I smiled to myself as I went because I finally understand where my place is in this world.

47 comments:

thordora said...

It's funny. There are days when I miss the carefree afternoons with 10 thick magazines and coffee, beers til dawn. Other days, I don't miss them at all.

It is a secret. It's like explaining color to a blind man, or a fugue to the deaf. Until you reach it, you cannot know it.

Being a mom rocks sometimes doesn't it.

meno said...

There was a time when i was younger than everyone else. Then, for a long time, i was the same age as everyone else. Now i am older than everyone else.

It's okay. It's good. You have important things to do, at home.

Gwen said...

Nicely done, Jen. Loved the velvet rope imagery and the knowledge that it can be better when it's not just all about you.

I'm with T, though. I don't miss the nights in bars, but I do miss long coffee afternoons. And sleeping in. Still, in balance, those losses are tiny blips.

Orangeblossoms said...

I am starting to understand that, too. Becoming insta mommy is kinda weird. Suddenly, I'm a family of four. In eight weeks, it will be official.

Thanks, Jen, for this post....

Aliki2006 said...

You are so right--the times I miss singlehood, or being childless, are so fleeting in the scope of things. It's so peaceful to understand one's place and to enjoy it.

mitzh said...

Sometimes I find myself missing being single.

Then when I look at my hubby and daughter, I know that I'm actually not missing anything, that I am in fact complete and fulfilled.

liv said...

I love being out with my diverse group of friends... And sometimes the differences are there even when you feel so comfortable. Nice to know that things are right for you.

crazymumma said...

Its nice isn't it. To finally come on home to what was meant for you.

And you are right, there IS no explaining it to those who are not there yet.

This song by the Talking Heads sorta sums it up for me:

"Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb - born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's ok I know nothing's wrong . . nothing

Hi yo I got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight . . . say goodnight

Home - is where I want to be
But I guess I'm already there
I come home - she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time Before we were born
If someone asks, this is where I'll be . . . where I'll be

Hi yo We drift in and out
Hi yo sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head Ah ooh"
***********
Funny how when my life is falling to shit in every other regard, I look at the gift the universe has given me in my two children. And I feel a kind of peace.

Amy York said...

I work with a single 38 yr old and love to live vicariously through her drama & drunken debauchery. But I wouldn't trade my life for hers in a minute. Well maybe for 15 mintues, but then I'd miss my family and want them back. :) When I really think about it... I'm living the proverbial "American Dream" - house in the suburbs, two running vehicles, two cats, and most importantly - a hubby & two lovely little boys. What more could a girl want?

Cecilieaux said...

Children give us the ability to willingly put someone else ahead of ourselves for the first time in our lives.

mamatulip said...

This is one of the most beautiful posts I think I have ever read, Jen. I have tears in my eyes. You've just struck me with this one.

Thank you for sharing this moment in your life with us.

QT said...

I am glad your night out resulted in warm & fuzzies for you, sister. Every night you go out doesn't have to end up as a three ring circus to be pronounced "fun". It is actually nicer to come away from a night with friends refreshed by good conversation & company, parents or non-parents.

For a split second, I thought you were going to tell me that I couldn't know real happiness or fulfillment unless I have a child, and I was gonna get my guns out!

slouching mom said...

I remember having a similar epiphany when Ben was three.

Shortly thereafter, I conceived Jack.

Just sayin'.

Tabba said...

Oh, I can so relate to this.

And you're exactly right. The secret is yours to hold.....for they won't know - won't *get it* until it is their time.

Momish said...

I am all teary! Wonderful post, friend. And a wonderful realization, thanks for reminding me again.

Z said...

Give it until you're fifty, darling, and you can be irresponsible and carefree again, and appreciate it all the more.

Every stage in life can be good, can't it?

Blog Antagonist said...

I feel very much the same way. You said that beautifully. Although unlike you, I don't think I've found my place irrespective of my motherhood status. I envy you. In a good way, of course. :?)

Lawyer Mama said...

Beautiful post, Jen.

"I have a secret and I can't share it with them until they know it for themselves."

Exactly.

I don't miss it either, although sometimes I'm nostalgic for those carefree days.

I had friends with children who tried to explain that expansiveness to me, but I didn't get it. Not really. It's something you have to experience.

And what an experience it is!

Mrs. Chicken said...

*sigh*

Perfectly said. Are you sure you don't live in my head?

Thank you for expressing so beautifully what is in my very own heart.

flutter said...

What a lucky little girl...oh and M, too :)

ms chica said...

I think the thing I miss most about being single is the absence of responsibilities, both implicit and explicit. But if everything changed tomorrow I could never return to being a carefree single, I've changed too much, and for the better. Shifting priorities. Who knew shifts could bring such relief.

thailandchani said...

Passages, eh? Oh, yes. :)


Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

kristen said...

you're so right sister, so right. and all that navel gazing that i used to do? gawh, i'm just grateful that i've still got friends. (=

Oh, The Joys said...

We are no longer the sun in our own universe -- and how great it is...

carrie said...

I wouldn't trade that other me for the world. And you are right, there is no way to explain this to them. They just have to find out for themselves.

Carrie

Jennifer said...

You went OUT?! During the WEEK?! To a BAR, like, with FRIENDS?! Dude, you are one of the hipsters. And a very lucky one, to have an even better life to go home to. :)

This was such a lovely post. And it rings so true, for me as well.

KC said...

I so know what you mean friend. lovely post. And i dig what slouching said.

Beck said...

I'm sorry, I'm still jealous over the Having Friends TO Go To The BAr With Mid-WEek Thing.
I'll go watch my tv now...

Kyla said...

Beautiful.

Janet said...

For better and better it changes you.

It's true!

When I couldn't go out, when I was tethered to my two under two at home, I felt desperate to get back to the carefree me. When they grew older and I started going out with friends again, I figured out something: I never much cared for bars in the first place. I know, I know: shocking revelation from the introvert.

bgirl said...

ah mama-hipster, great post.
i am somewhere in-between. this is of course related to the fact that for the most part as a single (hipster) mama, i can't go out. therefore the sounds of laughter from the gorgeous glossed up girls i have walked by, pulls my envy string. yet when i get that final kiss goodnight from the little dude i think there is nowhere else i'd rather be.

home, the new hip.

painted maypole said...

"I finally understand where my place is in this world."

Welcome home, sister

Bon said...

dude, this rings such a bell for me. because i still speak that language, of bars and smoke and travel, and think of it almost as my adult native tongue...yet i am not sorry to see it go rusty awhile, while i learn this new one - faintly remembered - of blankies and bedtimes that has so much more importance, not requiring me to invest it or inflate it with incidentals.

i'd still like to be able to go back every month or so, just for a weekend of sleeping in. but no, i wouldn't trade.

beautiful post.

phenom said...

Preach it, sista! And yes, I did just say that, cuz that's how I roll. hehe

blooming desertpea said...

That's so beautifully said ...

I'd say we all miss the things we don't have, moms miss the freedom and the peace (I know I do - there have been times where I could go to the bathroom without have one or even two kids joining me!) and there are women who would love to have a family.

But we can say one thing about the two different life styles - single life with bars and all that stuff is fleeting and instable but a family is a constant and secure environment - a sanctuary. I'm glad you found your place ...

Kevin said...

Beautiful Jen. Absolutely beautiful.

And, it is something that I am just starting to realize with a new little one.

As I go to work exhausted from multiple late night diaper changes and crying bouts, I realize that I wouldn't trade any of it.

NotSoSage said...

Love this.

Most of my friends are single and few have children, so I often feel this way. They joke with me about being tied down and I joke too, but in the long run, I wouldn't trade anything for the smile I got this morning when I woke her up.

It's complicated, and there are moments of "what ifs" - not around the hipster stuff, but around work and life opportunities - but it's still right. I can't wait to share it with those of them who decide to be parents.

Gill said...

You have an amazing knack for putting the things I often think and feel into words! So often I read a post that you've written and find myself nodding in agreement, or smiling knowingly.

Julie Pippert said...

Sigh. Beautiful. Touching. I can relate.

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

Binky said...

I still LOVE a good pub crawl, but I enjoy coming home, too. The best of both worlds, when they align like that.

Rhea said...

That was a wonderful piece. It's true. Your life can change in the most unexpected ways.

Cathy said...

I love this. So perfectly said.

Redneck Mommy said...

Home really is the best place in the world.

No pub crawl will ever match it.

Unless of course, I am there.

alejna said...

You really have a way with words, jen. This was beautiful.

It's nice to be back and reading your words again.

Susanne said...

How beautiful. And what a timely reminder. The past two days I have had a tiny longing for being unencumbered and free again. But every time I find myself thinking like that I remember when I was single and lived alone and had the whole weekend all to myself. And how lonely I felt and how much I longed to have someone to share my life with.

And yes, it's a secret you can't really share.

Cagey said...

Just discovered your blog via comments on Anjali's blog (sidenote: a total case for leaving one's URL when making comments, otherwise, I wouldn't have found you - who care's about Google Page Rank?)

After reading several of your posts, this is the one that compels me to add you to my bloglines - you described so eloquently that crossing over from the Childfree to Child Full.

Often, I see my neighbors across the street sitting peacefully on their front porch.
Their children are in college now and they have that freedom to just sit and not worry about a toddler eating grass or running into the street. I see them with a detached interest - it's a life I once knew, that sitting peacefully. I don't necessarily miss it desperately. After all, I know that someday, I will sit and not have a grabby toddler by my side. And I will miss him.

Desitin's Child said...

I'm late to the party, but had to comment because this is a particularly good post. It's not easy to put this feeling into words - I've been trying, in my head - but here it is, as you wrote it, exactly.
Thanks.