Kindergarten for the Generations

About eight years ago, when I had just recently turned thirty, I joined a gym. There are lots of reasons that women join gyms (weight loss, exercise accountability, fun classes), but I had one goal in mind: child care. I would check nine-month-old Catie into the child care and go plod away on a treadmill. I didn’t care if I burned a calorie, I needed an hour to feel like an adult again.
Oh, and I was also there for some social interaction. Even though I’m an introvert, hours and hours of Tummy Time primed me for a little mommy conversation.  There were two other women (Jill and Terri, I think) there at the same time I was everyday. They also had babies in the child care and were also there for social interaction. They would climb on the treadmills next to mine, smile at me, and spend the next hour jogging and chatting as fast as they ran. Both has three kids and the babies they had in child care were the oops, afterthought babies.
Besides the gym, I began to see Jill and Terri everywhere: their older kids came to VBS at our church,  at a huge sale at Gymboree, in the park by our house. Everywhere.
So, I decided that we should all be friends. Mostly because I found their treadmill conversation fascinating. They talked about diets, and home decorators, and PTL meetings, and TV shows, and Kindergarten teachers, and book clubs. What amazed me is what they didn’t talk about: separation anxiety or diaper rash or baby food brands. These women (MOTHERS WITH BABIES!) were having real conversations about adult things.
I fantasized about us all being in a play group together. We would meet at my house and they would tutor me in how to effortlessly care for a nine-month-old so that I, too, could have a life. I made some awkward attempts at friendship, which they didn’t really reciprocate.
Soon Catie was in school and I found my group of mommy friends. They were in the same stage I was and nothing about parenting was effortless for us. Except, of course, there were those older mommies with older kids, who had been through potty-training and toddler bed decisions before. For them, parenting a Pre-K kid was kind of effortless.
All this to introduce Sam and Elisabeth’s Kindergarten class (pictured above) to you. Filled with lots of second and third children, us mommies are a bit older. Most of us have been through Kindergarten already. Doing it this time around is a little bit more effortless.
I noticed that this weekend at a class birthday party. These moms are in a different stage of life. With Catie’s group of friends, the moms would gather and obsess about fertility and fret that our children had too much homework. This group of older mommies talked about gluten-free recipes, books we had read, PTL meetings, and good decorators. For a second, I realized that I was now a Jill or a Terri. With child-rearing experience had come confidence, and with that confidence came the ability to focus a bit more on who I am.
I can’t even imagine Nate’s Kindergarten class. If there’s a lost new mom in that group, one who wants to tell someone her reasons for wanting another baby, Lord, help me to happily listen.

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