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odd man out, originally uploaded by Terwilliger911, Creative Commons, Flickr.

Today, before Bear’s music class, I sat between two friends (one closer than the other) as they discussed a new place that one of them had “private messaged” the other about on Facebook, and I listened as they discussed taking their two little ones there together sometime. I felt that I was in the middle of a conversation that they should be having elsewhere, particularly if they were not going to include me in it. Uncomfortable, I physically shifted backward to give them a clear line of vision. Still, they did not include me, and then the class began.

After the class, another woman who has been in previous classes with me, my two friends, and our babies took one of my friends aside to discuss something that they were going to do together. Earlier in the summer, my other friend mentioned taking her son to a play date with this other woman’s daughter.

I know that I shouldn’t be offended. Obviously, we are all adults, and we are all free to choose who we want to spend time with. Particularly, in the past, this other woman has made numerous passive-aggressive comments about her daughter’s lack of hair and walking. Since my daughter has quite a bit of hair and walks very well, I felt like she was comparing our daughters, and it made me uncomfortable and a little sad for the other little girl whose mommy didn’t seem to be content with what she had. I shouldn’t be surprised that this woman has not sought me out as a companion. Frankly, I shouldn’t even care.

But, I do. I feel a little like the kid who wasn’t invited to the birthday party with all of her friends, and I hate that feeling.

When I was ten, I remember being acutely aware that most of the girls in my class had been invited to one of our classmate’s birthday parties. I was not close friends with the birthday girl, but being from a small, rural community, most everyone was invited to every birthday party, and she had been invited to mine. My mother concluded that it was not possible that I had not been invited and that the invitation must have been sent to our old farmhouse rather than the one where we currently lived. So, despite the cold, wet day, she strapped my younger brother into our 1984 Blazer, and we began battling the snowy, muddy road for the two-mile journey to the farmhouse. Once there, I sadly discovered that my wonderful and couragous mother was wrong. No invitation waited for me in the mailbox. Unhappily, we began the trip back only to become hopelessly stuck in a ditch before we could reach home. I remember walking through the cold, wet mud and crying less about the slight of the birthday party and more about the feeling that I had somehow failed my mother.

Despite this experience, I always had close friends throughout my childhood. I have no actual memories of “making” these friends, however. For whatever reason, we were always friends. I made a few close friends in college, and with many nearby acquaintances, I was not lonely. That was the nature of college.

After law school and marriage and the start of work, my husband and I wondered if there weren’t multitudes of other couples “out there” who already knew each other and spent a lot of time together socially. If there were, they weren’t doing it with us. We finally decided that social relationships outside of the school environment, particularly after marriage, were meant to be different. I assumed though that once we had kids, we’d begin forming friendships with other couples who fell into the same phase of life as we did. Now, I’m wondering if maybe I just don’t know how to make friends. Maybe I’ve forgotten, or maybe I never knew.

At ten years-old, I realized that the sting that I felt at not having been invited to a birthday party had very little to do with my desire for a friendship with the birthday girl. I did not want to be left out. Being overlooked seems to say something about one’s self, and one’s importance to others. Perhaps now, I’m looking to the wrong people for friendships. I just wish that I was grown up enough to remember the difference between the two.

On my own

On my own

My one year-old may have toddled into toddlerhood today.  It happened overnight.  This weekend, she was a happy-go-lucky baby, playing and wanting to be held and read to.  Today, she just wasn’t.

The morning started off well-enough.  Bear was happy to see me when I pulled her out of her crib.  She grabbed her “babies” – a stuffed giraffe affectionately named Jo Jo and a little bunny – and happily accepted a bottle from Daddy.  The trouble began when I took her to her room to get her ready for daycare.  I stretched her out on her changing pad, which I’ll admit, is not her favorite activity.   Lately, I’ve pacified her by pulling a book off of her book shelf and letting her browse it while I change her diapers or pants.  Today, however, I made the tactical error of handing her a box of cards that she enjoys, which I found underfoot on the floor.  Unfortunately, as soon as I handed the box to her, she dumped its contents out on top of her.  Approximately 20 cards spread across the changing pad and into the dirty diaper zone.  I quickly pushed the cards away and handed her two to play with.  This action infuriated her.  She flung the two remaining cards at me and flipped over onto her stomach (all while I was attempting to maneuver a dirty diaper out of the way and hold her dirty bum off of the changing pad).  She then became rigid, by arching her back and pushing her feet out (which were still in my hands).  I felt like we were practicing pro-wrestling moves.  I’d like to say in that situation that size matters, but honestly, the little bugger was making the most of it.  Although Bear was the one being pinned to the changing pad, she was clearly in control of the situation.

I managed to clean her and wrangle her into clothes for the day, but she continued to wail and fight me through the rest of our morning routine.  Once dressed, I took her to our kitchen for breakfast.  Once I plopped her down in her high chair and poured cereal and cut blueberries onto her tray, she quieted down a bit.  After Bear chucked her sippy cup at me, which is clearly toddler-speak for “stop trying to pacify me with this blasted sippy cup,” I turned on “Sid the Science Kid”, her favorite t.v. show (even though it is the only t.v. show she watches, and I like it too).   A faint smile appeared on her lips.  I thought that maybe I was making progress, so I began dancing about with the music on “Sid.”  Nothing.  Well, nothing pleasant anyway.  She made it clear that she was not happy with me and would not indulge in any silliness.  In fact, she turned away when I got too close.

When her daddy was ready to leave, I told him that Bear was not in a good mood and that I was pretty sure that she was mad at me.  He laughed as though he didn’t believe that she could be mad at me and picked her up from her chair to take her to the car.  Wait, I told him.  I didn’t want Bear to leave on a bad note, so I gave her a hug and as I leaned in to give her a kiss, she turned her head and pushed me away.  Her daddy laughed again, but not in disbelief this time.  Bear then began chattering happily to him as he carried her out to the car, leaving a dejected mommy in the kitchen.

I felt little pangs of sadness at work today thinking about how my little girl was already asserting her independence from me and how she had apparently grown-up enough to feel wronged by the actions of others, namely me.  Despite her unhappiness with me this morning, thouh, she squealed with delight when I walked into her room this evening to pick her up.  Whatever I did this morning was forgiven by this evening, and I was her much-loved momma once again, or for a hour or so at least until our next clashing of wills.

What will tomorrow bring?