New shoes.

Sunday, 8:51 am.

Z and I arrive at the pool early, as the early morning lane swimmers are doing their last laps. Her hand-me-down suit is gaping at the legs and I'm tugging at my own suit, hoping last night's hot date with my Mach-3 Turbo did its job.

We spend 20 minutes in the pool by ourselves, kicking and noodling and motorboat-motorboat-step-on-the-gas-ing. Finally, some older kids and parents arrive but with Z not able to swim on her own, she's reduced to watching the other kids from afar.

As the classes start, the ones that Z doesn't want to take because she doesn't like to get her hair, face, eyes or ears wet (OMG ARMAGEDDON IF THE EARS GET WET), we pack up our things. We towel off in the locker room, both of us eyeing the other moms and kids as they get into their suits for class.

"I want to make a friend," Z announces loudly.

I blush self-consciously but force myself to smile, to support her. "Okay. Do you want to introduce yourself to someone?"

She nods and turns to a little girl close by, "Hi. I'm Z."

The other girl is not yet two, a little young for full conversation. Her mother answers Z's questions and Z seems satisfied as she grabs my hand for the freezing walk to the car.

On the way home, I am mentally checking off items in my head (Alone time with Z. CHECK. Preschooler energy release. CHECK.) when I hear her voice, soft but triumphant from the back seat. "I made a friend."

(Oh, right. Friends.)

Monday, 9:30 am.

After Z goes to school, I sit motionless at the computer, facing yet another cold week ensconced in the house. I think about the playgroups we've gone to that haven't worked out for one reason or another, the ones for Z that meet at E's naptime, the ones for E that meet at Z's preschool pick-up time, the ones where the moms all cluck about how expensive it is to dress their girls in frilly dresses and their husbands get mad at them and they just yell WELL HOW ABOUT YOU TAKE SOME MONEY OUT OF YOUR PRECIOUS FOOTBALL BEER BUDGET, HUH? and everyone laughs and clucks except me.

I begin searching the web for classes for Z, anything that will get her moving and get us out of the house, meeting new people.

Music and movement? Full. Preschool gymnastics? Meets at E's naptime. Splash and play? Meets during Z's preschool and may include, one can only guess, SPLASHING.

Pre-ballet? Good time. One space left. Let's not think too much about ballet, baaLLLLLEEETTTTT with all its baggage. It's just a way to meet other moms and girls and get Z moving in these cold months without a playground.

Let's just try it.

Tuesday, 4:12 pm.

"Can I try on my new shoes now, Mommy? Can I? Can I? Will you teach me to dance, Mommy? Will you teach me ballet?"


Sarah said...

Honey, I am hugging you from afar. Much as I hate this dull Midwestern town that I swore I would escape as soon as possible, I now am so grateful for the closeness of family, old friends, connections. And much as I envy you the fun aspects of moving and seeing different parts of the country, I am sorry about the distance from loved ones and the daunting task of building new social networks for yourself and your kids. It will happen, of course, but these couple of years of groundwork will just be hard.
I hope ballet class is pure loveliness and doesn't include any fishwife-type carping about beer money and frilly dresses! :)

Hillary said...

Hugs from me, too. We live 1,000 miles from our families and our oldest friends, and five years in, that's still rough. But, we've been lucky to find good friends down here and luckier still that they started having babies when we did. It's a built-in network that I can't imagine being without.

I hope you and Z both make some friends at the ballet class.

Eleanor Q. said...

I hope you both make friends at ballet class. Perhaps there will be another monther waiting for her daughter to finish class that seems nice, normal and is looking for a playdate as well.

Katie said...

Hugs all the way from California, too, from a stranger no less. I just adore your blog and know you'll all make some great friends soon.

Fran said...

She look adorable in her little slippers! I will add my wishes for you to find a niche in your new reality...I think as the weather warms it will get easier too ((hugs)) from another stranger who, like Katie up there, adores your blog.

Kader said...

Thanks for sharing these stories. Who knew so many things would be so difficult in raising kids? I was so oblivious when I, myself, was a kid.

Just the idea of her little voice from the backseat saying, "I made a friend." My eyes well up as I imagine it.

Grateful Twin Mom said...

Beautiful pictures. Dancing, twirling, spinning--she's been having dance parties with you all her life. It's an extension of you. The baggage and the freaking out about balllllleeettttt may never come. I hope she has a great time and that the moms are cool..XOXO

Marie Green said...

Beautiful photos. I'm so glad that you found SOMETHING to keep her energy in check this winter! We've signed our three up for gymnastics, b/c at least it's SOMETHING.

Also, you WILL find a group of like-minded moms. Just keep looking, keep being open to opportunities. But you really really will. And they won't have football/beer drinking husbands, either.

Michelle said...

What wonderful photos. Good luck with the friends. It is so hard. Everyone is busy. Everyone is different. It's so hard to find a group that lets you be you. I hope both you and Z will find friends.

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